Estate Planning

Durable Powers of Attorney

 

What is a durable power of attorney?

A durable power of attorney is a document that allows an agent to manage assets and make financial decisions on behalf of the principal, even after the principal is incapacitated.

Will a durable power of attorney allow my agent to give away my property?

A durable power of attorney may be broad, granting extensive powers to the agent, or it may be limited to a single act. Under California law, an agent under a durable power of attorney does not have the authority to give away the principal’s assets or property unless the document creating the power of attorney expressly states that the agent has power to make gifts. Extreme caution should be exercised in choosing an agent for a durable power of attorney because, even though the agent lacks authority to give away your property, an unscrupulous agent could exceed his or her authority and take or dispose of your property.

How do I revoke a durable power of attorney?

A durable power of attorney should be revoked in writing. The revocation should be delivered to the agent and any third parties (banks, financial institutions, or others) who may rely on the power of attorney. If the durable power of attorney was notarized and/or recorded, the revocation should be notarized and/or recorded.

If I have a revocable trust, do I still need a durable power of attorney?

The trustee of your revocable trust handles property or assets that are held in the name of the trust. A durable power of attorney may allow the agent to manage assets that are not held in the trust, including retirement benefits, annuities, life insurance, or accounts that are held outside your trust, and to sign tax returns.