What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

The Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that names a person, also known as an agent, to handle financial matters for you. Some states allow you to have a "springing durable power of attorney," which springs into effect only in the event that a physician signs off on your incapacity; however, Florida recently changed its law and does not allow springing powers for powers of attorney.

The net effect of a durable power of attorney is that you have to be very careful whom you choose as your agent because that person's power is effective immediately upon your signing the document. With that in mind, a good Florida attorney will show you how to avoid the potential for abuse. It is important to have this document in effect as it may assist you to avoid the need for a guardianship in the event of your incapacity because the durable nature of the power of attorney allows the document to survive your incapacity.

Further, the durable power of attorney is used for both your financial and business matters. For instance, an agent would have the power to open and close bank accounts for you as well as buy stock. The agent acts in the capacity of a fiduciary, which means he is in a trusted position and must act prudently on your behalf. This power of attorney can also be used to sign business papers and enter into contracts in the name of the principal, or the person creating the durable power of attorney.

It is important to note that this power cannot be delegated. For example, if you delegate the power to your father and he re-marries, your father cannot "delegate" this power to his new wife or anyone else. In other words, an agent can't give someone else the power to be another person's agent, only you can.