Durable Powers of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a grant of authority from one person (the PRINCIPAL) to another (the AGENT).  It can be for a specific purpose, such as closing a real estate transaction, or a more general purpose, such as managing financial affairs or making health care decisions.  Unless the power is specifically denominated as DURABLE, the power will terminate upon the mental incapacity or death of the Principal. In Estate Planning we typically draft two kinds of DURABLE POWERS OF ATTORNEY for our clients.  Depending on the specific circumstances of our client’s life the Power may take effect immediately or “spring” into effect at the occurrence of some triggering event, such as a certification of mental incapacity. First is the GENERAL DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY.  In this document the client names two or three people, who, in succession, are authorized to manage the Principal’s financial affairs.  In some plans this is a crucial piece of the Estate Plan, as it is the only document governing periods of incapacity.  In other plans it serves as back up protection and works in conjunction with a Revocable Trust created by the client. The second power is a DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY for HEALTH CARE and ADVANCED DIRECTIVE.  This two-part document preserves the voice of the client when it comes to health care decisions.  The client nominates two or three people to act as Agent and make health care decisions on behalf of the client during the client’s mental incapacity.  In the Advanced Directive section, the client outlines care options the client does not want at the end of life or if the client is in a persistent vegetative state.  Preserving the client’s choices in this regarding is crucial both to obtain the client’s preferred care when the client cannot speak for himself and to assist and assure the Agent that the choices and decisions being made are acceptable.

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