February 26th, 2014 by Jenna N. Schmidt, Esq.
The Importance of Having a Durable Power of Attorney
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney is a simple instrument which allows a person you appoint to handle your financial affairs when you are unable to. If you become incompetent, this person can use this legal document to access your bank accounts and pay your bills.
Why is it Important?
A Durable Power of Attorney is important because without one, no one will be able to handle your financial affairs unless they are appointed by a court as conservator. Petitioning for conservatorship is a costly and time-consuming process. A Durable Power of Attorney, on the other hand, is an inexpensive document.
What is the difference between a “Durable” Power of Attorney and a Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney means that it remains effective after you become incapacitated. A Power of Attorney is only effective until incapacity. Therefore, it is important to have a Durable Power of Attorney in order to make sure someone will be able to handle your finances when you are incapacitated and cannot handle them yourself.
Who Should I Choose to Serve as my ‘Attorney’?
The person you appoint as your Attorney can be anyone of your choosing who is over 18 years old. Despite the name, your Attorney does not have be a lawyer or a professional. However, it should be someone you can completely trust with your finances. The Durable Power of Attorney is effective upon execution of the document, which means that person can immediately take the document to your bank and withdraw your money at any time, even if you have not yet been deemed incapacitated. The advantage of this, however, is that if you do become incapacitated, there are no other hoops to jump through in order for your Attorney to handle your finances. Most people choose their spouse as their primary Attorney, and their child as an alternate Attorney should the spouse become unable or unwilling to serve.