A durable power of attorney allows an attorney-in-fact or an agent to make specific financial decisions on the principal’s behalf. A power of attorney document must be in writing and must comply with specific statutory formalities. Additionally, some banks may require parties to use their specific forms before they honor their power of attorney instruments. In most cases, you will have to sign your power of attorney document in the presence of a notary public and obtain the notary’s signature or seal. You may also need to sign your document in front of witnesses. You can limit your agent’s financial decision-making powers by specifying the types of actions your agent can take on your behalf. You can also further specify what types of financial decisions your agent cannot make.
Every power of attorney ends at the principal’s death. This means that if you die, your power of attorney is no longer effective, regardless of whether or not you revoked it or validly destroyed it. The termination is automatic. However, your power of attorney may also become automatically invalid if you become mentally incompetent. Unless you created a “durable” power of attorney, your power of attorney most likely ends at your mental incapacity. Although state laws may differ, most states require you to include certain words to express your intent in creating a durable power of attorney. You may need to include specific words, such as “to remain effective upon my mental incapacity” or “a durable power of attorney.”