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What Is A Durable Power Of Attorney?

Many people are unaware that an ordinary power of attorney is revoked, and the agent`s power to act for the principal automatically stops, if the principal becomes incapacitated.

Under Missouri law, and the law of many other states, a power of attorney with proper wording may be made durable. This means that the power of the agent to act on the principal`s behalf continues despite the principal`s incapacity, whether or not a court decrees the principal to be incapacitated.

Through a durable power of attorney, an agent may continue to act on your behalf even after you have had a stroke or other incapacitating illness or accident. If the power of attorney so provides, the agent can use your funds to pay your bills, can contract for nursing home services for your benefit and can make basic health care decisions for you.

An aging parent may wish to give a durable power of attorney to a responsible adult child so that the child can act on the parent`s behalf and carry on routine matters in the event the parent is disabled or incapacitated. In many instances, this arrangement is far better than making the child the joint owner of the parent`s bank accounts and other property and assets.

To create a durable power of attorney in Missouri, the title to the document must include the word durable and the document must state: This is a durable power of attorney and the authority of my attorney­in­fact shall not terminate if I become disabled or incapacitated. In many other states, the document must state in substance that this power of attorney shall not be affected by subsequent disability or incapacity.

It is possible to create a durable power of attorney so that it will only go into effect when the principal is incapacitated or when some other stipulated event or condition occurs. This is ordinarily called a springing durable power of attorney.