Some durable powers of attorney take effect immediately after they are signed and notarized (or witnessed), others take effect only after the person making the power of attorney becomes incapacitated.
Your durable power of attorney for finances is effective as soon as you sign it. This means that your attorney-in-fact can start acting on your behalf whenever you choose. If you need someone to help you keep an eye on your finances, you may want your attorney-in-fact to start acting for you right away. On the other hand, you may prefer that your attorney-in-fact use the document only if you are unable to handle matters yourself, either because you are temporarily ill or injured or because of long-term incapacity.
If you want your attorney-in-fact to use the document only if you become incapacitated and unable to take care of your finances, be sure to clearly convey those wishes to the person you name. If you don't trust that your attorney-in-fact will refrain from using the document unless and until you are incapacitated, consider naming someone else to do the job.
You may have heard of "springing" powers of attorney—that is, powers of attorney that "spring" into effect when you become incapacitated. Many people like the idea of these documents, because they prefer not to make their power of attorney effective while they can still manage their own affairs. However, in practice, using a springing power of attorney often causes more problems than it solves. For example:
Making a durable power of attorney that takes effect as soon as you sign it avoids these problems. Just make sure your agent understands exactly when and how you want the document to be used. This degree of trust is a basic requirement for naming an agent. If you don't trust your agent to handle the power of attorney exactly as you intend, you should choose someone else to handle your finances.
If you still feel that you want a springing power, see a lawyer for help. An experienced lawyer can draft a power of attorney that is more closely tailored to your specific situation and concerns.