If I already have a living trust, why do I need a durable power of attorney?

A living trust covers only items in the trust. A power of attorney can protect all of your property not held in trust by authorizing someone to manage your property if you are unable to for any reason. Without a power of attorney, a court may have to appoint someone for that purpose, causing delays and additional expenses.

If I complete a durable power of attorney, do I still need a will?

Yes. A durable power of attorney is valid only while you are alive. You still need a last will to explain how you want your estate to be managed and distributed after you die.

When will my durable power of attorney take effect?

Your durable power of attorney can be effective as soon as you sign it in the presence of a notary public. Some states require that you sign the document in front of additional witnesses. You can also choose to sign a durable springing power of attorney, under which you appoint someone to act on your behalf only if you become incapacitated.

When does my durable power of attorney end?

Your durable power of attorney ends automatically when you die. In some states, your durable power of attorney will end automatically if you get a divorce and your ex-spouse was your agent and no alternate agent is named.

Is a durable power of attorney revocable?

Yes. You can revoke your durable power of attorney at almost any time.

To whom can I grant the power of attorney?

You can grant the power of attorney to any competent adult. However, you should be careful to select only someone you trust completely. You will be bound by the decisions he or she makes, and you should choose a person who can handle this responsibility.

What is the difference between an agent and an executor?

An agent can make decisions for you only while you are alive. An executor can make decisions on behalf of your estate only after your death.

How much decision-making authority can I grant through a power of attorney?

Generally, you can grant authority to make any or all of your financial decisions (e.g., those related to banking, accounts, insurance, taxes, real estate, etc.). You can choose which powers you want to grant, with one significant exception. You cannot authorize your attorney-in-fact to make changes to your last will.

Can the person to whom I grant the power of attorney change my will?

No. Even if you try to give your attorney-in-fact this power, he or she can’t change your will.

Is this a legal and valid document?

Yes. A LegalZoom Power of Attorney is legal and valid in your state after you have completed a few simple final steps. LegalZoom provides you with instructions to help you in this process. For example, you must sign the document and have it witnessed and/or have your signature notarized, depending on your state’s requirements.