While each estate plan is unique, it will typically include specific documents. When coupled with a trust-based estate plan, a durable power of attorney is used to allow your fiduciary to manage your non-trust finances and responsibilities in the event that you become incapacitated. These usually include retirement assets, insurance policies, interacting with government agencies and creditors.

At Blacksburg Law, we firmly believe that an estate plan should not just be a checklist of documents; it should be about your goals and the legacy that you want to leave. These documents are still important, however – and are vital to the ultimate success of your plan. A durable power of attorney for finances is just one of several tools that can be used to ensure that almost any situation that arises can be handled properly by a trusted agent.

Our law firm offers a different approach to estate planning. We don’t just fill in the blanks on standardized legal documents; we have multiple in-depth conversations with our clients so that we can truly understand what they hope to accomplish. From there, we develop a customized estate plan that goes beyond the documents. If you’d like to learn more about our process, give us a call or send us an email to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances?

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives one or more people the authority to act on your behalf. This power of attorney can be general, or limited to a particular activity, such as purchasing a house. Powers of attorney are often used for convenience or to ensure that someone can handle financial or related matters in the event that you become incapacitated. They can be used for almost any lawful purpose.

For estate planning purposes, a durable springing power of attorney is used for finances, non-trust responsibilities, and cleaning up legal messes or updating a plan. Because the power of attorney is durable, it is effective even when the principal (person who signed the document) is incapacitated. A springing power of attorney means that the document does not go into effect immediately, and instead is triggered by a certain event (such as incapacity).

A durable power of attorney for finances is a critical part of any trust-based estate plan. Along with a pour-over last will and testament, it is an ancillary document that empowers the agent (person with the authority) to take care of certain financial matters. We consider these two documents to act like a multi-tool to deal with almost any situation that may arise.

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    For example, if you are seriously injured in a car accident, your agent can handle your finances while you are unable to do so. This may include anything from paying your credit card bill to updating/approving portfolio allocations, accepting long term disability distributions or interacting with your employer.

    In most situations, the same person is nominated to be your agent, successor trustee, and executor of your estate. That’s because these documents (and the titles) are tools for your fiduciary to use to handle any situation. This should be a person who you can trust to make important decisions on your behalf, particularly as it relates to your finances.
    Importantly, a durable power of attorney for finances ends once the principal dies. At this point, your executor named in your last will and testament will be responsible for handling those non-trust financial matters related to your estate.

    How Is a Power of Attorney Used as Part of a Trust-Based Estate Plan?

    We know that most people aren’t interested in the minute details of their estate plan and don’t want to read legalese. That is why we are big on metaphors. Whenever possible, we try to explain our estate plans in a way that is easy to understand and makes practical sense.

    We typically describe estate planning as being like a road trip. In this metaphor, the living trust is the vehicle and the ancillary documents are parts of the vehicle. The vehicle and its various components are necessary to get you where you need to go – but they should never be mistaken for the trip itself.

    Instead, we ask you to focus on where you want to go. Put another way, we want to know what success looks like for you when contemplating the management of your assets, the caring of your responsibilities and the distribution of your assets when you die. If your estate plan is done correctly, what goals will you have accomplished in these areas?

    A durable power of attorney for finances is a part of the vehicle. It is a necessary part of your road trip, but it isn’t the main thing. Its purpose is to allow your non-trust finances and other responsibilities to be managed when you are unable to do so yourself.

    When you view your living trust together with your last will and testament and power of attorney, you will see that they cover any situation that arises within the sphere of assets management, interactions with third parties such as the government, your employer, your business partner, or creditors, and even updating your plan documents to account for unaccounted-for scenarios such as special needs beneficiaries, assets left out of trust or lost documents.

    Just like a car wouldn’t necessarily work without all of its parts, a trust-based estate plan isn’t effective without all of these components. While we firmly believe that an estate plan should be about more than the documents, it is important to remember that these ancillary documents are necessary to get you where you want to go.

    Ready to Plan for Your Future? We’re Here to Help.

    A durable power of attorney for finances is one component of a comprehensive trust-based estate plan. With this document, you can be assured that even if something happens to you, your finances and other responsibilities will be handled. Because your designated agent is often your successor trustee and executor as well, they will be aware of your wishes and can maintain continuity during your incapacity and beyond.

    Based in San Francisco, Blacksburg Law works with individuals and families throughout the Bay Area and California. We offer estate planning services on a flat fee basis so that our clients can take full advantage of our process without worrying about running up a massive bill. Founder Michael Blacksburg is well-known for his innovative approach to estate planning that helps clients truly think about and work through what a successful estate plan means to them. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, give us a call at 415-508-5600 or fill out our online contact form.

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    Estate Planning Basics


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    Emma K.

    We communicated by email, phone and Skype – without one single f2f meeting! Michael’s associate Louis was at the same professional level, and the signing of the final documents was as easy as was the whole process.

    David G.

    Blacksburg was a Boy Scout. Why is that relevant to an estate planning attorney? Because, he got his Eagle badge, he’s still trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, and kind. It’s these personal qualities that separate him from other lawyers just as knowledgeable or technically adept.

    Aman D.

    Michael was a knowledgeable, professional and extremely patient attorney. He explained things in common English, so the process made sense, and got very specific when necessary. In all, he took a painful process and made it as pain-free as possible.

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