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Durable Power of Attorney

The legal instrument used to designate a person as your agent or attorney-in-fact to perform certain acts and make certain decisions on your behalf is known as a power of attorney. If the document states that the instrument is to remain in force if you become incapacitated, incompetent, or otherwise unable to act on your own behalf, it is called a durable power of attorney.

A durable power of attorney generally means there is no need for a court to appoint a conservator or guardian to manage assets. Spouses may act as attorneys-in-fact for each other, which empowers the spouse holding the durable power of attorney to receive certain benefits, such as Social Security payments, and to sign income tax returns for the incapacitated spouse.