What is a Durable Power of Attorney? Do I Need One?

A Durable Power of Attorney is a written instrument which allows you to appoint another person to be your agent, giving that person the authority to perform certain specified acts on your behalf. It is possible to make the Durable Power of Attorney effective only in the event you should later become disabled or incapacitated. Without a Durable Power of Attorney, it may become necessary for the court to appoint a conservator to manage your affairs.

In general, a conservator is an individual appointed by the court to make decisions (either financial, personal, or both) on your behalf when you become disabled, incompetent or incapacitated. If you already have an agent in place to handle these affairs, a court-appointed conservator shouldn’t be necessary.

The process of having a conservator appointed by the court can be very costly, time consuming, and burdensome on the family member or friend that undertakes this obligation. It should also be noted that the person appointed by the court may not be the person you would have desired. Having a Durable Power of Attorney will let your family avoid these problems.