Durable Power of Attorney (DPA)

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A durable power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes another person to manage your financial, legal, and healthcare matters on your behalf. Typically, a DPA is established when an individual is preparing for future possibilities of incapacity or when facing a progressive illness. Clearly outline crucial powers and decisions to be made on your behalf in this durable power of attorney template with peace of mind.
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Paper titled "Durable Power of Attorney"; woman and man shaking hands near the desk

Planning effectively safeguards our future and provides a buffer against unexpected events leading to unnecessary turmoil. An integral part of this planning process is the implementation of a simple durable power of attorney (DPA). 

A durable power of attorney is a legal document, often available in a durable power of attorney form PDF format for easy access and convenience. This document authorizes another person to manage your financial, legal, and healthcare matters on your behalf. Its defining characteristic, its durability, implies that it remains effective even if the principal confronts physical or mental incapacitation.

A standard durable power of attorney form is designed to seamlessly transfer decision-making rights from one person, the principal, to another trusted individual, referred to as the agent or attorney-in-fact.

When to Use a Durable Power of Attorney

Typically, a durable power of attorney is established when an individual is preparing for future possibilities of incapacity or when facing a progressive illness. Anticipating the potential need for decision-making representation, they may consider using a printable durable power of attorney. This version provides a convenient and tangible document that can be readily presented.

Durable powers of attorney are commonly employed in various scenarios, such as:

  • By older adults: They often use durable powers of attorney to ensure their affairs continue if they cannot make competent decisions.

  • People with degenerative or severe illnesses: These individuals might utilize this document in anticipation of future decision-making difficulties.

Parties of the Durable Power of Attorney

  • Principal: This individual or entity assigns authority to another person by employing a durable power of attorney form. The principal primarily seeks to ensure the sound management of personal matters, affairs, or assets should they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions personally. Using a durable power of attorney form, they establish a legally recognized conduit for their wishes. The principal has the right to expect that the affairs assigned will be handled diligently, honestly, and in their best interest.

  • The agent (also known as attorney-in-fact): This individual is granted the authority to act on behalf of the principal, as specified by the durable power of attorney template. As the agent, they must honor the responsibilities and limitations outlined in the DPA. This includes acting in good faith, respecting the principal's instructions, and acting within the scope of powers granted by the DPA. They should also prioritize the principal's best interest above any of their interests and must secure the principal's affairs from unauthorized access or misuse.

Key Terms

  1. Principal: The person who initiates the power of attorney and appoints an agent to make decisions on their behalf.
  2. Agent/Attorney-In-Fact: The individual designated by the principal to manage their affairs.
  3. Durability: A feature of the power of attorney that ensures its effectiveness even if the principal becomes mentally incapacitated.
  4. Capacity: The principal's mental ability to understand the implications of their actions.
  5. Guardianship: A court-appointed responsibility for an incapacitated adult's personal and property affairs, which can often be avoided with a durable power of attorney.

What Is Included in the Durable Power of Attorney?

The general durable power of attorney form delineates the areas where the agent is granted permission to act on behalf of the principal.

Powers Granted

Powers granted through a durable POA form might cover various financial matters. These can encompass buying or selling real estate, conducting bank transactions, investing on behalf of the principal, and managing other assets. The extent of the power conferred to the agent through the durable POA form is entirely within the principal's discretion.

Healthcare Decisions

In certain circumstances, a durable power of attorney can extend to healthcare decisions, serving as a noteworthy example of its broad applicability. Under such arrangements, the appointed agent holds the legal authority to make medical-related decisions should the principal become incapacitated. This durable power of attorney example illustrates its potential scope and the substantial responsibility that an agent may bear.

Limits and Restrictions

While the agent, identified in the durable power of attorney forms, has the right to act on behalf of the principal, there can be specific limitations set by the principal within these forms. Furthermore, the agent cannot make decisions after the principal's death unless they are specifically designated as an executor in the last will.

How to Write a Durable Power of Attorney

Composing a legally valid document, mainly when using a durable power of attorney sample, involves delineating the parties involved, specifying the powers assigned, and establishing any constraints on these powers.

  1. Select your agent:
    Carefully select your agent, ensuring they are trustworthy and capable of handling the responsibilities.

  2. Define the scope of authority:
    Clearly define what the agent can and cannot do. Do they have authority in financial decisions, healthcare, or both?

  3. Legalize the document:
    Finally, have the durable power of attorney document notarized or witnessed as required by your state law to legalize it.

Individuals should assess the particulars of their circumstances and consult with legal professionals to determine whether utilizing a durable power of attorney document is suitable in each case.

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