A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document authorizing another to act as one’s agent. It is the most useful document when planning for adult incapacity. If you are confined to a hospital or your home, your agent can make bank deposits or withdrawals, sign over title to property and handle your other business affairs.
What does Durable Mean?
For a Power of Attorney to be effective in the event of your disability or incapacity it must be durable. Under Virginia law a power of attorney is automatically durable unless the document says otherwise.
What Happens if You Don’t Have A Power of Attorney
Without a power of attorney, no one can represent you unless a court appoints a guardian or conservator. The guardian and conservatorship process is costly, time consuming and the court may not choose the person you want to manage your affairs.
What are the Powers of My Agent?
A power of attorney can be limited or general. A limited power of attorney gives someone authority for a specific purpose like signing checks. A general power is comprehensive and can give your agent all the powers and rights that you have yourself. Some matters such as the power to make gifts require special consideration because of tax implications.
When does the Power of Attorney take Effect?
A power of attorney may be effective immediately or it may take effect at a future date. Most powers of attorney take effect immediately upon their execution. However, the document can also be written so that it does not become effective until such incapacity occurs. Often the document is written so that incapacity is determined by a physician. There are risks to either approach and you should discuss them with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Am I Giving Up Control By Executing a Power of Attorney
Not Necessarily. When you give an agent a power of attorney you are not giving up the right to take action or make personal decisions yourself. You are just adding another person who can act for you. However, you will be legally bound by their authorized acts. A power of attorney is a very powerful document. You should be sure you completely trust the person you choose to be your power of attorney.
When Does the Power of Attorney End?
A power of attorney ends at your death or when it is revoked or terminated by you.
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