When you appoint someone else to make decisions for you under a power of attorney, this other person may be referred to as an attorney in fact. Virginia follows the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. A basic power of attorney is durable in nature unless the document specifically states that it’s terminated by the principal’s incapacity.
The specific tasks to be handled by the power of attorney agent will vary based on what’s in the document itself. An agent might be appointed for one task, like allowing someone else to sign on your behalf at a real estate closing. If you’re undergoing surgery or will be unable to handle your own affairs for a short period, you can appoint someone for a certain period. An agent might be appointed to handle numerous tasks for an ongoing period, such as if someone is incapacitated for a long period of time and needs assistance with handling all their finances.
The legal duties of this agent, however, are covered under the law. They include things like the agent’s responsibility to:
- Act for the benefit of the principal (the person who created the POA)
- Act in a way that does not create a conflict of interest
- Act with competence and diligence that would be followed by other agents in similar circumstances
- Keep a record of all transactions made in the name of the principal
- Attempt to preserve the documented wishes or known estate plan of the principal
An agent has what is known as fiduciary duty. This means they must act with care and could be found legally liable for violations of this duty. When you appoint someone in this role, you should feel confident about their ability to take on this level of responsibility.
Talk to a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer to get more information about your next