Can I establish a power of attorney to take effect on a future date?

As we age, we begin to consider needs that we did not before. One of the more important decisions we will need to make is who will be responsible for us when we are no longer able to adequately care for ourselves. 

Waiting to make this decision until after our health declines can place our well-being into the hands of a court. Thankfully, Delaware law offers the opportunity to establish a power of attorney that will take effect only after the principal becomes incapacitated. 

Types of power of attorney 

There are two types of power of attorney you may want to set up in advance: Advance Health Care Directive, or Durable Personal Power of Attorney. Advance Health Care Directive allows you to make decisions about your medical treatment before an incident occurs. It also allows you to designate a primary and secondary agent to have control over your treatment. 

Durable Personal Power of Attorney refers to your ability to select someone you trust to act on your behalf. It is a lasting arrangement that goes beyond health care. This agent can also make decisions about your finances, possessions and other matters. 

You can select just one individual to take these responsibilities, or you can select several; you can even require all agents to agree before taking action, but keep in mind that this may create complications down the road. 

Reclaiming authority 

While there is no handler directly monitoring your agent, he or she does have the legal obligation to act in good faith and with “care, competence, and diligence” when it comes to your well-being. Even if you have no qualms about your agent’s activity, Delaware law almost always allows a principle to revoke power of attorney at any time. 



FindLaw Network