In Virginia, on July 1, 2010, the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA) went into effect. The UPOAA changes and codifies the rules and requirements governing powers of attorney in Virginia and is intended to be uniform among the states. Approximately eight states have passed the UPOAA thus far.
The UPOAA contains a host of provisions governing the drafting and interpretation of powers of attorney. For example, unless otherwise stated, a power of attorney is presumed to be durable (meaning that it remains in effect even if the person granting the power becomes incapacitated) and non-springing (meaning that it goes into effect immediately, rather than upon some later occurrence). While most powers of attorney executed before the adoption of the UPOAA will likely continue to operate as intended, the Act does apply to powers of attorney executed before its enactment. If you have any concern about a power of attorney, please contact an estate planning attorney for guidance.
Perhaps the most important part of the UPOAA is a set of new rules governing the acceptance of powers of attorney by third-parties, such as financial institutions. In a nutshell, the Act seeks to promote the acceptance of powers of attorney by protecting those who rely in good faith on an acknowledged power of attorney (meaning one that purports to have been verified before a notary public or similar officer), while making one who improperly refuses to accept a valid power of attorney liable for attorney fees and costs of obtaining a court order. Certain procedures govern the acceptance of powers of attorney. For instance, the third-party must either accept a power of attorney or request certain additional documentation within seven (7) business days; and, thereafter, the third-party must accept the power of attorney within five (5) business days after receipt of the requested document. These provisions should make the acceptance of powers of attorney by third-parties more consistent – a welcome change.