By Jedidiah McKeehan

A power of attorney is a document executed by someone who desires to have individuals have the power to complete tasks for them while they are still alive. Someone who has a power of attorney for you, can access bank accounts, file tax returns, participate in lawsuits, among other things on your behalf, while you are still alive.

You often hear the word “durable,” placed in front of power of attorney though. Why include that word? What does it mean? Does it change the definition? Tennessee Code Annotated section 34-6-102 defines this and states why the term “durable” is so often included.

The statute states, “A durable power of attorney is a power of attorney by which a principal designates another as the principal’s attorney in fact in writing and the writing contains the words, ‘This power of attorney shall not be affected by subsequent disability or incapacity of the principal,’ or ‘This power of attorney shall become effective upon the disability or incapacity of the principal,’ or similar words showing the intent of the principal that the authority conferred shall be exercisable, notwithstanding the principal’s subsequent disability or incapacity.”

So there you have it. The power of attorney is “durable,” in that its execution will survive any future disability or incapacity (but not death) of the person executing it.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.