A power of attorney is a document that you sign while you are competent that gives a person that you trust the authority to make your financial and legal decisions for you if you become incapacitated at a later time. This person, called your “attorney-in-fact,” is able to act in your place for your financial and legal decisions. With very few exceptions, he or she can buy and sell property, open and close accounts, pay and incur debts and otherwise take any actions that you could take yourself.
Most durable powers of attorney take effect upon signing, even though the idea is that they will not be used unless you become incapacitated. Because of this, it is important that you name a trustworthy person for this important duty. Attorney Harvey considers a durable power of attorney an integral part of a proper estate plan.