Imagine this scenario: You’re away on an extended business trip, and an urgent matter requires your immediate attention back home. Or perhaps you’re envisioning a future where you might not be able to handle your affairs personally due to health reasons.
In such situations, wouldn’t it be comforting to know that a trusted person can legally act on your behalf? This is where power of attorney comes into play.
In Virginia, you can choose from several types of powers of attorney, each with its own set of rules and requirements. In this blog post, we’ll share how to get power of attorney in VA and what else you need to know about the process.
If you have questions about including a power of attorney in your estate plan, contact a PJI Law, PLC team member at (703) 865-6100 for personalized service and attention.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that provides an individual, referred to as the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” the authority to act on behalf of another person, known as the “principal.” The authority granted can be broad or specific, depending on the type of power of attorney established.
This legal mechanism is typically used when the principal is unable or unavailable to make decisions or manage their affairs, such as financial transactions, real estate dealings, or healthcare decisions.
It’s a crucial tool in estate planning, ensuring that the principal’s affairs are handled according to their preferences and best interests. Now let’s talk about the different types of powers of attorney.
Durable Power of Attorney
In Virginia, a durable power of attorney offers peace of mind knowing that even in case of an unfortunate event such as sudden mental incapacitation or permanent disability, your affairs will be taken care of.
Consider a situation where you manage personal finances, properties, or even business matters. A durable power of attorney will allow the person you trust, your agent, to handle these affairs, ensuring that decisions made are aligned with your desires and best interests.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing power of attorney becomes effective under predefined conditions such as mental incapacitation or permanent disability.
For instance, if you have a known health condition, you might set up a springing power of attorney that activates when your condition reaches a certain level, as documented by a healthcare professional.
This measure ensures that your personal and financial matters will be handled promptly and effectively, even during health adversities.
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney allows your appointed agent to oversee various tasks, from personal financial matters to more complex decisions, ensuring that your affairs run smoothly in your absence.
This could span from managing everyday banking transactions to endorsing significant contracts on your behalf.
Limited Power of Attorney
In contrast, a limited power of attorney gives your agent specific powers for a defined purpose or period. For example, a limited power of attorney would empower your agent to complete the transaction on your behalf if you cannot be physically present for a property transaction.
Using a limited power of attorney is a secure way to ensure specific tasks are accomplished in line with your instructions, regardless of your availability.
While powers of attorney we’ve discussed so far primarily pertain to financial and specific transactions, it’s worth considering another crucial aspect – your healthcare decisions. For this, Virginia law provides the option of an Advance Medical Directive.
Advance Medical Directive
As you plan for your future, preparing for potential health concerns is equally important as part of your advance care planning. A Healthcare Power of Attorney, better known in Virginia as an Advance Medical Directive, allows you to nominate a trusted person to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to communicate your preferences.
This individual, often referred to as your healthcare agent or proxy, could be entrusted with decisions ranging from minor medical procedures to life-saving measures, depending on the permissions you stipulate.
They would collaborate with your healthcare team to ensure your treatment preferences are respected and implemented. A skilled attorney can guide you through this process, ensuring your document meets legal standards and reflects your desires accurately.
For more information about Advance Medical Directives, we invite you to read our blog, “The Importance of Having a Virginia Advance Medical Directive in Place.”
The Process of Getting Power of Attorney
The first step in acquiring power of attorney in Virginia is identifying the individual you want to serve as your agent. This person should be a competent adult you trust, as they will have the authority to make decisions on your behalf.
Next, you must decide on the type and extent of authority you wish to grant your agent. As mentioned, this can range from limited authority, such as handling a real estate transaction, to broad authority over your financial affairs or healthcare decisions.
Consult an experienced power of attorney lawyer to create a custom document that meets your needs. Your attorney will ensure the document details the authority granted to the agent, as financial institutions and other organizations will need to review the document.
After the power of attorney document is completed, Virginia law calls for the principal’s signature to be notarized for the signature to be presumed genuine. A notary public will verify your identity to ensure you are signing willingly and under no duress.
If the power of attorney is durable and might be used to handle real estate transactions, it should also be recorded with the circuit court in the county where the property is located.
When Power of Attorney Terminates
It’s important to understand when and how a power of attorney terminates. In Virginia, a power of attorney terminates when you revoke it, when you die, when the specified purpose is accomplished (in case of a limited power of attorney), or when your agent resigns without a named successor.
Also, if a court appoints a guardian or conservator for you, that could also lead to termination of the power of attorney unless the court order specifies otherwise.
Successor Agents and Their Role
You may also name a successor agent in your power of attorney document. This person steps in when the original agent cannot carry out their duties due to illness, incapacity, or other reasons.
This ensures that even if your initially appointed agent can’t act, there is still someone you trust to take care of your affairs.
The successor agent has the same authority as the original agent, but their power kicks in only after the original agent can no longer act. It’s essential that the successor agent is aware of their role and is willing to take up the responsibility if required.
Remember, making informed decisions is crucial when granting power of attorney. Whether you’re granting broad authority over your financial affairs or limited authority over a single transaction, the agent you select should always have your best interests in mind and act in accordance with your wishes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What happens if I don’t have a power of attorney and I become incapacitated?
A: If you become mentally incompetent or permanently incapacitated without a power of attorney, a court may appoint a guardian or conservator to manage your affairs.
Q: Can I revoke a power of attorney?
A: Yes, as long as you’re mentally competent, you can revoke a power of attorney at any time by notifying your agent in writing.
Q: Can the agent use my assets for their own benefit?
A: No, the agent is legally obligated to act in your best interests and manage your assets for your benefit. Any misuse can be legally prosecuted.
Q: Does a power of attorney allow the agent to make decisions after my death?
A: No, a power of attorney terminates upon the death of the principal. After your death, the executor of your will or a court-appointed administrator would manage your estate.
PJI Law: Your Local Lawyers for Power of Attorney
With the right power of attorney, you can rest assured that your affairs are in capable hands. Whether you’re preparing for a future need or dealing with an urgent situation, the team of power of attorney lawyers at PJI Law can help you decide on which type of power of attorney is best suited for you and your individual situation.
At PJI Law, each client receives our complete dedication, personal attention, and courteous, white-glove service, ensuring that your VA power of attorney aligns with your personal goals and family’s needs.
End your search for “local lawyers for power of attorney” and place your trust in PJI Law. We invite you to contact us at (703) 865-6100 or complete our online form to schedule your consultation with our power of attorney legal team in Fairfax, Virginia.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.