Durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney is a legal instrument under which a person (the "principal") may designate another person (the "agent") to be legally empowered to act on behalf of the donor to the extent set forth in the durable power of attorney instrument. The durable power of attorney is "durable" because the powers granted under it remain in effect if the donor becomes physically or mentally disabled.
A durable power of attorney can be granted to any individual, (not just family members). Furthermore, an individual can delegate the power to make medical decisions on his or her behalf in the durable power of attorney document.
The durable power of attorney can be a useful estate planning tool to allow the grantee of the power to manage the affairs of a grantor who subsequently becomes incapacitated. Unfortunately, however, many financial institutions and title insurance companies will not accept them. If the power of attorney is highly specific and if properly notarized, it is much more likely to be honored as valid.