VA Estate Planning Attorney Explains Power of Attorney

Having someone who can act on your behalf in business, personal, or healthcare matters can be beneficial. There's a relatively simple way to authorize someone to serve as an agent who can act or make decisions for you. An estate planning attorney can help you draft a power of attorney (POA) and other legal documents necessary to do this.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

Generally speaking, a POA is a legal document that gives you the ability to choose someone to act on your behalf. However, there are several different types of powers of attorney, and each type has its own benefits and limitations:

  • General power of attorney. After signing, a general power of attorney gives your agent broad power to act on your behalf. This person can handle financial issues, make business decisions, and even buy life insurance. A general POA can be especially helpful if you’re traveling and will be out of the country for extended periods of time. Additionally, a general POA allows this agent to handle your affairs should you become ill or incapacitated.
  • Springing power of attorney. Also known as a conditional power of attorney, a springing power of attorney only goes into effect when you become incapacitated or in other situations where you may be unavailable to make decisions such as a military deployment.
  • Durable power of attorney. This type of agent works for you when you’re both of sound mind or incapacitated. For example, you might give your daughter power to handle all of your financial matters because you’re too busy to deal with them or because she’s especially skilled at handling money.  
  • Healthcare power of attorney. Also known as an advance medical directive, a healthcare power of attorney allows you to specify what kind of care you want in the event of an emergency and appoints an agent to make healthcare-related decisions for you.

A Designated Agent's Duties

An agent's duties are many and, because there is no formal oversight of agents acting under powers of attorney, it's important to choose someone you can trust. For example, agents are required to act in your best interest, act in good faith, and act only within the authority granted in the power of attorney document.

Additionally, if the person named as your agent accepts his appointment, he must:

  • Act for your benefit
  • Avoid conflicts of interest that would impair his ability to act impartially and in your best interest
  • Act with the same care and diligence that other agents exercise
  • Maintain detailed records of receipts, disbursements, and transactions made on your behalf
  • Work closely with your healthcare power of attorney
  • Preserve your estate plan
  • Provide detailed financial accounting upon request

How to Execute a Power of Attorney

For a POA to be legally binding, it must first be executed. In Virginia, the process for executing a POA is fairly simple and straightforward. Requirements include signing the original POA document in front of a notary and two witnesses.

If you have second thoughts about your power of attorney, you can change it or even terminate it, if necessary. A skilled estate planning attorney can help you draft new POA agreements or modify existing ones.

Get Help With Your Power of Attorney Agreement Today

Drafting a POA agreement can be confusing, especially if you have no previous legal experience. At Quest Law, our seasoned estate planning team knows Virginia law, and we're ready to put our skills to work for you. If you have questions about creating or signing a POA, we have the answers and legal advice you need. Contact Quest Law today to request an appointment for a private initial consultation with one of our legal professionals.