Photo by Alan Cleaver A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint another person to make financial and other non-medical decisions for you if you become incapable of making those decisions for yourself.  It is called “durable” because it does not terminate if you become incapacitated or disabled like a “regular” Power of Attorney does. A Durable Power of Attorney can take effect at the time you sign it, or it can “spring” into effect when you become disabled or incapacitated.

Authority You Can Give with a Durable Power of Attorney

The person you appoint to act for you is called your agent or “attorney-in-fact.” You choose exactly how much authority to give your agent. It can be a lot of authority or only a little authority, depending on your needs and desires.  For example, you can give your agent the authority to act for you in any or all of the following ways:

  • Pay for your support and care
  • Borrow money in your name
  • Conduct bank transactions on your behalf Handle your real property
  • Handle legal claims on your behalf
  • Access your safety deposit box
  • Deal with your insurance and retirement benefits Prepare and file your tax returns
  • Exercise your stockholder rights
  • Contract for services
  • Make gifts to others
  • Collect your Social Security benefits
  • Perform unspecified, non-medical tasks

Legal Requirements for a Durable Power of Attorney

To be effective in Texas, the Durable Power of Attorney must:

  • Be in writing
  • Be signed by an adult
  • Name an agent or attorney-in-fact
  • Must specifically state that the agent’s authority either continues after you become disabled, or that it begins when you become disabled
  • Be acknowledged by a Notary Public

Your agent has broad authority to act for you. It is, therefore, important that you select someone you completely trust to act in your best interest when you execute a Durable Power of Attorney.