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What Makes a Durable Power of Attorney Different Than a Power of Attorney?

I had a client ask me the other day what makes a durable power of attorney different than a power of attorney.

A power of attorney is used when one person (the principal) wants to give authority to another person (the agent) to act on behalf of the principal. Traditionally, a power of attorney is no longer valid once the principal becomes incapacitated. The durable power of attorney was created to address this problem. With a durable power of attorney, the agent can still act on behalf of the principal even if the principal losses legal capacity.

A regular power of attorney is often used for a specific transaction in which an agent needs to do a specific act for a principal. For example, if two people are selling jointly owned real estate, but only one of them can attend the closing, the seller who cannot attend the closing may give a power of attorney to authorize the other seller to sign the closing documents on his behalf. Once the documents are signed, the specific act is completed and then the power of attorney is no longer valid.

A durable power of attorney is used most often as a way to proactively plan ahead for possible incapacity. Under the durable power of attorney, the agent is given authority to perform a wide variety of actions on behalf of the principal. The durable power of attorney allows the principal to say in advance who will act for him and how.

If you become incapacitated and don’t have a durable power of attorney, usually your state has a law that will describe how an agent is chosen for you (the “default option”). In Florida, the default option is guardianship. In a guardianship, the court chooses who will act for you and what they are authorized to do on your behalf.

In helping people decide if they want to put a durable power of attorney in place I urge them to imagine themselves in a room full of people with only one TV and one remote control. I have them honestly consider if it would drive them crazy to have someone else decide which channel on the television they have to watch.

If you put a durable power of attorney in place, then you are in charge of your own remote control. If you don’t put a durable power of attorney in place, then you have handed the remote control over to the state of Florida and will be stuck watching whichever channel the state, through the default plan, chooses for you.

  • Why Choose
    Our Firm?

    We limit the number of clients that we have at one time, allowing us to focus on your case.

    Personalized Representation
  • Know the
    Benefits

    Find out if you and your family can benefit from our elder law planning services!

    More Information
  • Dedicated & Experienced

    Our firm exclusively handles elder law concerns so your family can obtain peace of mind.

    Meet Your Attorney
  • Complimentary Consultation

    Let us help. Request your consultation today and we will be in touch.

    Contact Us Now

Contact Us

Edwards Elder Law, P.A.
St. Petersburg Elder Law Attorney
Located at: 2510 1st Ave. N.,
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.