What is a “Durable” Power of Attorney for Finances?

Many people are unaware that an ordinary power of attorney is revoked, and the agent’s power to act for the principal automatically stops if the principal becomes incapacitated.

Under Virginia law, a power of attorney with proper wording may be made “durable.” This means that the power of the agent to act on the principal’s behalf continues despite the principal’s incapacity, whether or not a court decrees the principal to be incapacitated.

Through a Durable Power for Finances, an agent may continue to act on your behalf even after you have had a stroke of other incapacitating illness or accident. If the power of attorney so provides, the agent can use your funds to pay your bills.

An aging parent may wish to give a Durable Power for Finances to a responsible adult child so that the child can act on the parent’s behalf and can carry on routine matters in the event the parent is disabled or incapacitated. In many instances, this arrangement is far better than making the child the joint owner of the parent’s ban accounts and other property and assets (and especially the joint owner of your home).

It is possible to create a Durable power for Finances so that it will only go into effect when the principal is incapacitated or when some other stipulated event or condition occurs. This is ordinarily called a springing durable power of attorney.

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