When it comes to using a power of attorney, there are a lot of terms that you may come across. Many of these terms have very specific meanings, each of which is important to understand fully before you decide to let anyone else have power of attorney over your affairs. Your estate planning lawyer can explain what these terms mean in more detail, as well as provide you with advice about what kind of power of attorney is best suited to your needs.
Springing Powers: When a power of attorney is described as “springing,” this simply means that it only takes effect once a certain event takes place. Let’s say that you want to grant your wife power of attorney to make health care decisions for you if you get sick, but only if you are so sick that you have lost your ability to think clearly or can’t talk or can’t otherwise communicate. In this case, you grant your wife a springing power of attorney because it only sprigs into effect if the specified conditions are met.
Durable Powers: Durable powers of attorney are those which continue in effect after you lose your ability to make decisions, known as losing capacity. If your power of attorney is not durable, it automatically loses effectiveness as soon as you lose capacity. For example, you can grant your accountant financial power of attorney to file your tax returns now, but if you are injured in an accident and lose capacity these powers will cease unless you made them durable.
Springing Durable Powers: A springing durable power, therefore, is one that only takes effect when the power’s conditions are met and which lasts even after you lose capacity. A medical power of attorney that you intend to apply only after you lose capacity, for example, must be both durable and must spring into effect after you create it or it will not be valid.