Something that’s durable is built to last. Strong. Resistant to pressure. Those are some of the qualities you might expect in an important document like a durable general power of attorney.
Power on Paper and in Practice.
A power of attorney is a legal document where one person (the principal) authorizes another person (the agent) to act on their behalf. The powers granted to the agent can be very broad, covering many decisions. Some powers of attorney are limited, applying only to a specific occasion or a specific time period. And a health care power of attorney is signed for the specific purpose of authorizing an agent to make medical decisions for you. A power of attorney may be general or durable, which can be an extremely important distinction.
Durable or Not?
With a general power of attorney, the agent’s authority to act ends if the principal becomes incapacitated, disabled, or unable to communicate.
However, a durable power of attorney remains in effect even if the principal becomes unable to make his or her own decisions.
When It’s Only General.
Here’s an example of what can happen when a power of attorney is not durable. Frank, a 40-year old man, signed a general power of attorney as part of his estate plan. He authorized his spouse, Monica, to act on his behalf. The powers given to Monica take effect immediately and cover pretty much every financial decision Frank might have to make.
Unfortunately, Frank suffered serious brain injuries in a car accident. He can no longer communicate or make decisions for himself. Fortunately, his health care power of attorney authorized Monica to make medical decisions for Frank. But as she begins working on their finances, she learned that the power of attorney Frank signed has terminated. It was a general power of attorney, not a durable one. Monica had to hire an attorney and start a conservatorship proceeding to handle Frank’s affairs.
Have You Signed a Power of Attorney?
If you’ve never prepared any estate planning documents, or you’re not sure you have the right ones, it’s time to talk to a qualified Virginia estate planning attorney.
At the Dillon Law Group, PLC, the attorneys work with you to evaluate your needs and develop a comprehensive estate plan. Please contact us at 757-962-4796 to set up an appointment or use the Contact Form on our website, https://www.dillonlawgrp.com/. Our offices are located in Virginia Beach and Newport News.