A Durable Power of Attorney for the State of Virginia

By Brette Sember, J.D.

A Durable Power of Attorney for the State of Virginia

By Brette Sember, J.D.

A durable power of attorney (POA) is an important financial and planning tool that ensures your affairs can be managed if you are ever unable to do so yourself. Virginia has specific legal requirements to ensure it is valid.

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A POA is a legal document in which the principal—the person executing it—authorizes an agent to handle financial and business transactions on his behalf. (Note that it does not include health care decisions.) However, giving someone else the power to manage your affairs does not take away your own right to do so if you are of sound mind. The document authorizes someone in addition to you to do so.

Types of Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney can be durable or nondurable. Durable power is effective immediately and ends only if it is revoked. Nondurable authority becomes effective immediately but is no longer valid once the principal cannot make decisions for himself, such as in cases due to medical incapacitation.

A springing POA is one that does not become effective until the occurrence of a specific event, such as the principal becoming incapacitated, and remains in effect until revoked. When you create one in Virginia under the Uniform Power of Attorneys Act, it is automatically durable unless specified otherwise.

Choosing an Agent

The agent you name in your POA has wide-ranging authority to manage your affairs on your behalf, so it's important to choose someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend. The agent must act in your best interest. It's a good idea to first talk with the person you want to choose, to make sure they are comfortable taking on the role. They are not obligated to assume the role, so you want to make sure you don't go through the process of creating it only to have the agent turn down the responsibility.

Requirements in Virginia

To create a POA in Virginia, you must be at least 18 years of age and have the capacity to make decisions and understand what you are doing. You complete the form, naming your agent and choosing the powers you want to give them. You must choose the powers you are specifically granting to your agent. If you do not specifically indicate the following powers, they are not available to your agent:

  • Ability to change beneficiary designations
  • Ability to create or change rights of survivorship
  • Authority to create, amend, revoke, or terminate a living trust
  • Delegation of power
  • Right to waive beneficiary rights in a joint or survivor annuity or retirement plan
  • Exercise of fiduciary duties the principal has authority to delegate

You must sign the document before a notary for it to be legally valid. You can choose to have it witnessed by two individuals. Although this is not required under Virginia law, it is in other states, which means doing so provides added protection should the form need to be presented in another state.

Revocation of Authority

You can revoke it at any time so long as you are mentally competent. To do so, you can either destroy it or state in writing that you wish to revoke the POA, providing copies of the revocation to the agent and any business or organization that might have received a copy. If you are not mentally competent, a court can appoint a guardian or conservator on your behalf who can then revoke the authority previously given.

A durable POA is a useful tool that provides the convenience of allowing someone else to conduct transactions for you and the protection of knowing your financial life will be managed should you be unable to do so.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.