Springing vs. Immediate Durable Powers of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney is an estate planning document that allows an individual (the “principal”) to appoint another individual (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to make financial decisions or otherwise act financially for the principal.  A “durable” power of attorney means that the agent’s authority to act is not affected by incapacity.  The goals that you are trying to accomplish and type of planning you are doing will dictate what type of durable power of attorney will be appropriate for your situation.

Two types of powers of attorney that must be considered during planning include “immediate” and “springing”.  An immediate power of attorney is effective upon signing, while a springing power of attorney would only be effective upon incapacity.  While a springing power of attorney prevents an agent from acting until there is a need, there will be a delay in their ability to act until incapacity can be confirmed by a medical doctor or doctors.  An immediate power of attorney avoids the need for a medical assessment to determine if the agent may act, but gives the agent great power the moment the document is signed.  Your estate plan and financial situation should be reviewed before determining what type of power of attorney is appropriate in your situation.