When does a durable power of attorney become effective under California law?

An effective durable power of attorney is a valuable piece of the estate-planning puzzle. This document allows you to appoint someone who can manage your financial affairs on your behalf. Since this authority granted under a power of attorney gives someone access to your finances, the date of effectiveness should be carefully considered.

 Generally, a durable power of attorney in California becomes effective in one of two ways. Some durable powers of attorney are effective immediately. Under these instruments, the effectiveness is not dependent on any other factors, such as the principal losing his or her mental capacity. An advantage of an immediately effective power of attorney is that nothing needs to be done when there is a need to use it.

Other durable powers of attorney are effective when the principal becomes incapacitated. The following is an overview of a “springing” durable power of attorney in California:

  • The instrument may require that a physician establish the status of incapacitation.
  • Some instruments may require the opinion of not one, but two doctors as to your mental capacity.
  • The power granted under a springing instrument may come with less risk since it cannot be used while you are of sound mind.
  • Unfortunately, it can create a significant delay in the ability to use the power when it is needed since you must first obtain the opinion of a physician before it becomes effective.

When creating your durable power of attorney, a knowledgeable Orange County estate planning lawyer can help you decide which type of document is right for you. To learn more, contact the experienced Orange County estate planning attorneys at the Law Office of James F. Roberts & Associates, APC. Call our office today at (714) 459-5481 for a consultation.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm