Power of Attorney in Virginia: Guide and Requirements

Virginia allows medical and financial powers of attorney, plus power of attorney for minors.
Roberta Pescow
By Roberta Pescow 
Edited by Dalia Ramirez

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A power of attorney in Virginia is a legal document that gives another person authority to act on your behalf. Powers of attorney can be granted for medical decisions, financial matters or education decisions for minors

Virginia Legal Aid. Power of Attorney. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.

The person granting the authority is called theprincipal,” and the person allowed to act on behalf of the principal is known as the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.”

Power of attorney requirements vary from state to state. Here’s what to know about a power of attorney designation in Virginia and how to get one.

What are the requirements to get a POA in Virginia?

In order for a power of attorney to be valid in Virginia, the following requirements must be met:

  • The principal must have mental capacity. This means they are able to understand the agreement being made and willingly agree to it without being coerced. According to Virginia law, all adults are assumed to have mental capacity unless determined otherwise

    Virginia's Legislative Information System. Capacity; required determinations. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.

  • Proper signatures and notarization are required. The principal must sign the POA document or be present if someone signs for them. Virginia also requires that a notary public or someone authorized to “take acknowledgments” be present

    Virginia's Legislative Information System. Execution of power of attorney. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.

  • Your agent must be a mentally competent adult. This should also be someone you trust completely and who is willing and able to make difficult medical or financial decisions if needed.

What are the different types of POA in Virginia?

In Virginia, there are three basic POA types:

  • Financial power of attorney. This document allows someone else to handle financial matters for you, such as paying bills or purchasing stocks.

  • Medical power of attorney. Known in Virginia as an advance medical directive, this POA allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, including treatments, choosing health care facilities and surgery.

  • Minor power of attorney. This document allows parents to select another trusted individual to care for their child and make decisions regarding the child’s education, health care and well-being.

A medical or financial power of attorney can also be one or more of the following:

  • Durable power of attorney. A durable POA remains valid if you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. In Virginia, all powers of attorney are durable unless they clearly state otherwise

    Virginia's Legislative Information System. Validity of power of attorney. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.

  • General power of attorney. This document gives the agent all the rights and powers of the principal and allows the agent to perform a broad range of duties on the principal’s behalf. It is durable by default but can be nondurable if specifically stated to be so.

  • Limited power of attorney. This document allows the agent to perform specific functions for the principal, often for a limited time period. For example, a limited power of attorney might allow someone to pay your bills or care for your minor child while you’re hospitalized or traveling on business. In Virginia, you can have a limited POA for real estate, taxes or even for your vehicle to represent you at the DMV

    dmv.virginia.gov. Party of attorney to sign for owner. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.

  • Springing power of attorney. This POA doesn’t take effect until a specified time or circumstance (such as the principal becoming incapacitated) takes place.

» Estate planning? Here’s a 7-step guide

What are the steps for getting a POA in Virginia?

Follow these simple steps to create a power of attorney in Virginia:

  1. Decide what type of power of attorney best suits your situation, including what general or specific powers you want to grant to your agent.

  2. Select a person you trust to be your agent and name a co-agent or successor agent if desired.

  3. Draft a power of attorney document with an attorney, through an online legal service or by downloading your state’s form online. Because all powers of attorney are durable by default in Virginia, you’ll need to specify if you want your POA to be nondurable.

  4. Sign your document with a notary public present.

  5. Provide your agent with a copy of your POA and store the original in a safe place that your loved ones can access. You may also want to provide your financial or medical institutions with a copy. In Virginia, an electronically transmitted copy, such as an email or a photocopy of your document, carries the same authority as the original POA.

  6. File a copy of your POA with your local land records office if it involves real estate. In Virginia, this is a division of the circuit court clerk’s office. 

How much does it cost to get a power of attorney in Virginia?

How much a POA document costs depends on the method you choose. Here are some options:

  • Download POA forms for free online and only pay a notary fee, which is sometimes free and can cost up to $5 in Virginia. 

  • Hire an estate planning attorney to guide you through the process, which will likely cost at least $200 to $500. If you wish to hire a lawyer but can’t afford one, you can call the Legal Service Corporation of Virginia at 804-782-9438 or visit valegalaid.org to help you locate your local legal aid office.

  • Use an online legal service, which could cost less than $40 for a basic POA document. 

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Frequently asked questions

To give someone the power to file your taxes in Virginia, you’ll need a Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative (Form PAR 101). You’ll also fill out Form R-7 (Application for Enrollment as a Virginia Authorized Agent) if you want your agent to automatically receive copies of all your tax correspondence. You can find more detailed instructions for these forms with the Virginia Department of Taxation.

In Virginia, all powers of attorney are durable, meaning they last until you die. Your durable power of attorney will end if:

  • You revoke it. You can do this at any time as long as you’re mentally competent.

  • You have no available agent. To avoid this happening, consider appointing a successor agent in case your agent dies, resigns or becomes incapacitated.

  • Your POA is invalidated by a court. This rarely happens but could occur if a court finds you were forced to sign your POA or weren’t mentally competent at the time you created it.

  • You or your agent take legal action against one another for divorce, alimony, child custody or child visitation (unless your POA states otherwise).

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