Center for a Secure Retirement
When to Consider a Nondurable Power of Attorney

When to Consider a Nondurable Power of Attorney

Life is full of situations that involve reviewing agreements, signing documents and completing financial tasks. You might be moving across the country, caring for family members, or simply transferring funds from one place to another.

A nondurable power of attorney (POA) is a document that enables an individual of your choosing to review and approve arrangements for you, which can be useful if you are unable to perform these tasks yourself — for example, as you age in retirement. Here is some information on how a nondurable POA can work, the legal protections it can afford and when it might make sense to use such an arrangement.

What Is a Nondurable Power of Attorney?

A nondurable power of attorney is a legal authorization that is limited in scope. The person you specify can act on your behalf in legal and financial matters, which may include signing agreements, approving payments and more. The privileges afforded to that person depend on the specific powers you authorize in the power of attorney document.

A nondurable POA has more limitations than a durable power of attorney. For example, with any power of attorney, you can revoke or change the powers granted at any time using specific legal procedures, but with a nondurable POA, there are additional triggers that can bring the arrangement to an end. For example, a nondurable POA may be invalidated if the grantor of power dies or becomes incapacitated, or if a set expiration date arrives. You can also name the specific transactions to which a nondurable POA will apply.

By contrast, a durable power of attorney can continue after you're incapacitated, as long as you're still alive. If you're just trying to rent property in another city in the next month, a durable power of attorney might not be ideal. Why take the risk of granting somebody lifelong authority over your affairs?

When to Consider a Nondurable Power of Attorney

A nondurable POA can be helpful in numerous situations. Broadly speaking, it can make sense to use one if you are unable or unwilling to be physically present for legal and financial tasks. Electronic signatures are becoming more available, and they can allow you to conduct business from anywhere, but there are many situations that still require physical, or "wet," signatures. Employing a nondurable POA can be a convenient solution in such cases.

For example, you might be planning to move, which may require you to sign a rental agreement in the area where you would be living. Until you're there, you can't physically sign, and mailing documents might not be feasible. A nondurable POA granted to an individual in your future hometown could help you complete the agreement.

Likewise, you might be out of the country when somebody within the U.S. needs to sign a document or complete a financial transaction on your behalf. You could authorize a nondurable POA during your time abroad and set the authorization to end automatically on the date of your return.

How to Create a Power of Attorney Document

To establish a power of attorney document, start by meeting with an attorney who specializes in elder law. They can help you figure out the various details you'll need to include and make sure everything is written down in the correct language. Once all terms are agreed upon, you and any individuals mentioned in the document will need to sign the form. Make multiple copies of the final, signed document and keep them in a safe place.

A nondurable power of attorney can help you complete tasks without having to be physically present or do everything yourself. Compared to a durable power of attorney, a nondurable POA generally involves less risk and more legal protections because you can set explicit limits on what is allowed and for how long. However, assigning any power of attorney comes with some risk because you would be allowing someone to act on your behalf, so choose someone you trust and consider monitoring any arrangements they make for you.

Note that state laws vary, so it's important to discuss all features of a nondurable power of attorney with a lawyer licensed in your state before making any big decisions.

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