Why You Might Need A Springing Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is someone you appoint to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf should you no longer be able to do so. A springing power of attorney becomes effective upon a specific date, event, or condition. Usually, this “condition” is a declaration of mental incompetence by a doctor.

Reasons for choosing a springing power of attorney

Because a springing power of attorney does not go into effect immediately, it can limit the agent's access to your finances. This can create less of a chance that the person you name as your power of attorney will commit fraud against you or steal from you.

Defining the terms of a springing power of attorney

If the power of attorney is to “spring” into effect upon a declaration of incompetence, it is best to clearly state in the POA paperwork what the terms of that incompetence are or who must make the declaration (usually your doctor). By defining the terms of when the POA goes into effect, you can help avoid confusion, stress, and family conflict later on.

Reasons to establish a durable power of attorney rather than a springing power of attorney

If the terms of incompetence are not specified, a formal proceeding to determine incompetence must be held, and the person you named as your power of attorney may not be able to act until this process is complete. For this reason, many legal professionals encourage naming a durable power of attorney rather than a springing power of attorney.

For advice on how to choose someone to serve as your power of attorney, see our article How to Choose a Power of Attorney.

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