A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that varies from place to place, from author to author. The POA allows one person to appoint another person or organization to handle legal matters when you are unavailable or unable to do so.
Durable Power of Attorney
A "Durable" Power of Attorney is actually a general, special or health care POA that contains special durability provisions. If you become mentally incompetent while you have a POA document in effect, a durability provision will allow the document to stay in effect. You can also sign a durable power of attorney document to prepare for the possibility that you may become mentally incompetent due to illness or an accident. In this situation, you specify that the power of attorney would not go into effect unless a doctor certifies that you are mentally incapacitated.
You can specify the name of the doctor and also require that a second doctor opinion and the two must agree on your mental capacity. You do not have to choose a lawyer to be your agent, but it is important to select someone you trust. The relative, friend or business associate you choose to be your agent will be acting on your behalf regarding financial or health care issues. You need to choose someone who won't abuse the power you are granting them, someone who will act in your best interests. Your attorney can discuss this and other important topics such as Successor Agent, Mental Capacity at the time of signing and the legal requirements regarding the notarization of your signature.
The authority of a Durable Power of Attorney ends at the time of death. It is not meant to provide a legal means for planning funeral or cremation arrangements or distribution of assets after death occurs.