Agent’s duties under a Power of Attorney
As the agent appointed through a power of attorney, you are given an enormous amount of trust and responsibility. Most power of attorney documents have special provisions about the scope of representation required of an agent which may be specific to your situation. The following information provides basic requirements of the agent according to Virginia Code § 64.2-1612. As an agent, you owe a fiduciary duty to the principal under the power of attorney. This means that you must act in the best interests of the principal.
Responsibilities under a Power of Attorney in Virginia
When you accept the title of agent for a friend or family member, the principal, you are making a commitment to act in good faith using the principal’s best interests to guide your decisions. Within the parameters of the authority granted, an agent is expected to act with care, competence and diligence at all times maintaining detailed records of receipts, disbursements and transactions made on behalf of the principal. In most cases, the agent is given the authority to delegate some tasks to another more qualified person if special expertise is required for a task. For example, when taxes are due, if the agent is not familiar with current tax laws, retaining the services of a capable accountant is a reasonable delegation of fiduciary responsibility. In this case, the accountant would become a fiduciary to the principal as well.
In addition to working with other competent fiduciaries for the principal’s benefit, the agent cooperates with the person who has authority to make health-care decisions. Coordinating the principal’s care and other obligations can take an inordinate amount of time, especially when keeping detailed records of each decision made on behalf of the principal. If you need help, please contact a professional who can assist you with the more intricate details of maintaining an estate.
Agent’s Documentation of Actions under Power of Attorney
Comprehensive notes and records are required. In the event that the agent’s decisions are questioned, this documentation is crucial to avoid or defend litigation. If a family member or friend suspects malfeasance, all receipts, disbursements and transactions must be transparent because the agent is bound, as a fiduciary, to avoid conflict of interest in all interactions performed on behalf of the principal. This can get muddled in a case where the fiduciary has mutual assets and/or enterprises. Take the time to consider every avenue of interpretation when making pertinent decisions that affect both the agent and the principal. The opinion of a third party may be in the agent’s best interest in these instances. The services of an experienced attorney may prevent any accusations of negligence.
Liability of the Agent under a Power of Attorney
Is the agent under a power of attorney personally liable for the depreciation of the principal’s estate value? An agent who has acted with care, competence and diligence in good faith is not liable for the value of the principal’s property and/or estate plan. However, if the agent has breached the expectations of duty, the agent is responsible for losses. Furthermore, if the agent was chosen by the principal for a specific skill set or expertise, the agent’s specialized knowledge will be considered in determining if actions were careful, competent and diligent.
Are you concerned about actions taken under a Power of Attorney?
If you are a family member or friend of a principal who is being exploited by an agent, you should most certainly take the time to consult an experienced attorney. Anyone who has the principal’s best interests at heart, has the right question an agent’s actions. The law is designed to protect the principal’s interests. If an agent is acting negligently or, worse, fraudulently, please contact our office.
Fiduciary and Estate Litigation | Power of Attorney | Richmond, Virginia Estate Attorney