Power of attorney is helpful when everyone is on the same page. But what is durable power of attorney? It is the next step in ensuring that your interests are taken care of when you’re unable to act. When the limits of power of attorney begin to show, durable power of attorney becomes the next step forward.
What is Durable Power of Attorney?
Normal power of attorney lets someone handle your finances or health care at will. They step in to handle these matters on your behalf, and with your full backing. The limit of this agreement is that the principal who grants this power is aware and understands its limits. When someone is unable to make decisions on their own, then power of attorney becomes less effective.
This is where durable power of attorney takes its place in a contract. This type of agreement holds in situations where the principal is declining mentally, or physically unable to consent. Durable power of attorney puts your best interests in the hands of a person you trust.
How Effective Is It After Death?
Durable power of attorney gets rid of consent, but still relies on the principal being alive. The passing of the principal voids the power of attorney since there is no longer anyone to have authority over. In short, there is no such thing as power of attorney after death.
This can get complicated when the agent is not aware of the principal’s death. As long as the principal’s death is unknown to the durable power of attorney agent, then they can act with full authority. This has created interesting situations where time of death plays a major role in last minute decisions.
Even with durable power of attorney, there is no authority over life and death decisions. The role agreed upon is less restrictive than normal power of attorney, but still follows the same life and death decision rules.
When the principal is unconscious and unable to act, durable power of attorney relies on the agent making the right decisions. This falls in line with what is expected upon death, where the executor of the state takes over.
Executor of an Estate
An executor takes over when the principal passes. This of course happens after all of the paperwork has been filed. The passing of responsibility from an agent to an executor is not meant to overlap. As mentioned before, there are situations where authority type will enter a gray area for durable power of attorney.
In a situation where the principal passes, there should be a natural progression between authority types. If the agent is unaware of the principals passing, there are situations where authority can (briefly) overlap between the two roles. For the most part this is harmless, but it can create problems when the agent and executioner are the same person.
When it comes to durable power of attorney, it’s your call. Even though it lacks power after death, the contract is an important way to protect your assets. Use it in combination with other protections to ensure your financials and health are handled with a sharp mind.