What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A properly drafted and executed Durable Power of Attorney allows a person to appoint an agent to act for them and on their behalf in just about every circumstance, including legal and financial matters.
Power of Attorney vs. a Will
Powers of Attorney are different from wills in that they control what happens to people and their property while they are still alive – a Power of Attorney can be effective the moment you sign it. On the contrary, a will, or Last Will and Testament, has no legal significance until the person dies.
5 Benefits of a Durable Power of Attorney
Why is this helpful? There are many reasons:
1. Avoid expensive court proceedings.
Without a Durable Power of Attorney, if a person becomes disabled and/or mentally unable to make decisions and handle his affairs, a court proceeding known as a Guardianship will be required in order that a Guardian can be appointed. This is an expensive and sometimes painful ordeal. Having a Durable Power of Attorney in place beforehand avoids this.
2. Handle affairs for as long (or short) as needed.
Sometimes people are temporarily indisposed, traveling or undergoing medical treatment and want to have an agent available to handle their affairs if needed. A Power of Attorney can allow a trusted person to be named as this agent to handle these affairs for so long as needed.
3. Act as an “Attorney in Fact” for your spouse.
Contrary to popular belief, one spouse cannot legally sign the other spouses’ name or act on their behalf solely due to the marriage relationship. Having a Durable Power of Attorney allows one spouse to make the other their “attorney in fact” so that if the need arose, business and legal affairs can proceed.
4. Peace of mind for the future.
Durable Powers of Attorney survive and remain effective even if the principal later suffers an onset of mental incapacity. These instruments are great insurance policies against that possibility by providing peace of mind knowing that a trusted individual is legally empowered to take care of your affairs.
5. Control over when it becomes effective.
Of course, giving someone your Power of Attorney gives them tremendous power. Sometimes people wish for that power to come into effect ONLY if there is an onset of incapacity or mental incompetence. This can be done by adding a “springing” clause to your Durable Power of Attorney so that the Power of Attorney only becomes effective once the incapacity or mental incompetence presents itself.
Attorney Hank Doyle has been advising clients in Cary, Raleigh, Wake Forest, Rolesville, and across North Carolina on the considerations that go into Powers of Attorney for 20 years. The Doyle Law Offices can answer your questions and give you the guidance necessary to appropriately utilize Durable Powers of Attorney in your estate plan.