If you become severely injured or ill, who will look after your health? What about your finances? Who will be there to care for your loved ones? Though many people don’t think about the possibility of becoming incapacitated, the future—and your physical and mental health—is never guaranteed. By establishing powers of attorney, you can appoint a person or a number of people to act on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
There are several different types of powers of attorney, each with different responsibilities. Depending on your unique goals, you can establish a plan that protects every aspect of your future. At DiPietro Law Group, PLLC, our Fairfax estate planning lawyers can help you establish powers of attorney and obtain the peace of mind that comes in knowing your future is secure.
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Types of Powers of Attorney
Many people take the time to make arrangements for what will happen to their estate after they die. A will or trust can help you designate how your assets and properties will be divided after you are gone. However, most people do not make a plan for what will happen to their estate in the event that they become ill or incapacitated. Appointing powers of attorney can take care of this. In fact, a power of attorney can even be used to grant authority to someone to make decisions on your behalf even if you are not incapacitated, but are simply unable to make a particular decision for yourself.
You may wish to establish any of the following types of powers of attorney:
- General Power of Attorney: This grants an individual the authority to handle your finances on your behalf, including most financial transactions.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney: This allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. Typically, healthcare power of attorney is granted along with your health care directives.
- Special Power of Attorney: This grants someone the authority to handle a specific need or particular issue, such as a large real estate transaction or contract negotiation.
- Durable Power of Attorney: Durable power of attorney specifically grants someone the authority to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
It is important to note that, under the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, a power of attorney in Virginia is automatically considered “durable” unless it is specifically noted otherwise. Essentially, this means that a power of attorney will remain in effect if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. If you wish to establish a general or special power of attorney for only a short period of time, such as when you are traveling out of the country, you must note that the power of attorney is not durable.
How to Establish Powers of Attorney
First and foremost, when establishing powers of attorney, be sure to select someone that you trust to act in your best interests. Though they can be altered or revoked, there is no formal oversight for powers of attorney. This means you will want to choose someone that you wholly trust with your finances, health, and wellbeing—as that is exactly what you will be doing with a power of attorney. The person you choose, known as the “agent,” should have a complete understanding of what is expected of him or her and be willing to carry out the duties outlined by the power of attorney.
In order to validate the power of attorney, you will need to sign the appropriate document in front of two witnesses and a notary. This is a legally binding document, and you should have an experienced estate planning attorney assist you in drafting it to make sure it is legally sound. Any mistakes can end up jeopardizing your future security.
Reach Out to DiPietro Law Group, PLLC
If you wish to create a power of attorney, our firm can help. With more than 42 years of combined experience, our Fairfax estate planning lawyers understand the ins and outs of the laws governing powers of attorney in Virginia. We can help you understand your options and create a solid plan that is tailored to your particular situation. We understand that every situation is unique; that is why we offer personalized legal services and one-on-one attention throughout the estate planning process.
Contact us online or call our office to get started today.