Common Terms in a Virginia Power of Attorney Document | Ryan C. Young | Richmond, Virginia Estate Planning Attorney

Springing Power of Attorney

A springing power of attorney is a power of attorney that goes into effect at a future time specified in the document. For example, if the principal is determined to be incapacitated and unable to handle his/her own affairs, the Springing Power of Attorney goes into effect.  This arrangement seems like the best option for healthy adults, but the waters are muddied if the agent is required to prove that the principal is, in fact, incapacitated.  Some people choose to include language that defines incapacitation with instructions for the attorney to hold the power of attorney until a physician has acknowledged incapacitation. As a general rule, our office does not recommend this type of springing power.

Durable Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney is considered durable as long as it is not terminated by the principal’s incapacity.

General Power of Attorney

General Power of Attorney is a document that allows an “agent” or “Attorney-in-Fact” to act on behalf of the “principal” in the case that he/she is temporarily or permanently incapacitated or otherwise unavailable and unable to handle some or all affairs. The agent is responsible for acting in the best interest of the principal in good faith while recording all receipts, disbursements and transactions. Power of Attorney takes effect on the day it is signed and stays in effect for the lifetime of the principal unless it is revoked. If Power of Attorney has not been established at the time of incapacitation, then guardianship/conservatorship proceedings may be required to appoint someone. This process can be slow and expensive because a court date and fees are associated with the transaction in addition to attorney’s fees.

Limited Power of Attorney

Sometimes referred to as a “Specific Power of Attorney.”  A Limited (or specific) Power of Attorney gives authority to an agent for specific duties as defined in the document. For example, the authority to sell a specific property with no other powers granted.


Sometimes referred to as the “agent”.  The person granted authority to act on your behalf through the Power of Attorney.  This term can include the original agent, co-agent, successor agent, and a person to whom the agent’s authority has been delegated.

Ryan C. Young | Richmond, Virginia Estate Planning Attorney

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