Life happens, and we can hardly control both the good and bad events. Sickness, old age, and other unforeseen circumstances make it imperative to create plans related to health, finances, and even properties.
Though these conversations are usually tough, it’s always best to have the plans in place for someone else to make big decisions on your behalf when you are unavailable or incapacitated.
A Power of Attorney (also known as POA) is a legal agreement that grants someone the authority to make crucial decisions for the other person with their consent.
You (the principal) can hire a person or an organization (an agent or attorney-in-fact) to act on your behalf and make decisions related to your property, health, finance, and other assets.
There are different power of attorney forms. And it contains all the necessary information required for a power of attorney to be effective. However, the regulations and scope of POA vary by location. In this article, we’ll be talking about the West Virginia durable power of attorney.
A West Virginia durable statutory power of attorney form, just like every other POA, is used to choose a representative to whom a principal in West Virginia will delegate authority.
However, unlike the non-durable power of attorney (POA), the West Virginia durable power of attorney (DPAO) is termed “durable” because the agreement can last for as long as the principal is still alive unless otherwise stated or revoked.
In other words, even if the principal is incapacitated or unable to take any legal actions, the term of a durable POA will remain valid. Therefore, before you confer this power on someone, you must be sure your chosen representative is someone you can trust with your finances, life, and assets.
In some cases, the durable POA is also referred to as a general durable power of attorney. And in other cases, it can be called a durable power of attorney for finances – since it is used for business and financial matters. Therefore, if you need a durable POA for medical reasons, you need to get a medical power of attorney.
As per these requirements, the principal’s signature must be accepted before a notary public, and the law does not mandate witnesses. Similarly, suppose the principal decides to use the Agent Certification form instead. In that case, they are expected to sign the document in the notary public’s presence and then attach the form to the POA.
West Virginia DPOA Laws and Requirements
Every state in the United States has its statutory laws and requirements for POA. For POA in West Virginia, your form must meet the state’s signing requirements to be valid.
In West Virginia, POA forms are durable by default. And according to the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, there are specific laws and definitions for each POA term.
(1) Agent is a person who a principal has granted the authority under a power of attorney. This person is usually described as an agent, attorney-in-fact, or otherwise. The agent can also be described as an original agent, successor agent, co-agent, and a person to whom the principal has dedicated their authority.
(2) Durable in POA means the agreement cannot be terminated by the incapacitation of the principal.
(3) Electronic relates to technology. Such as having electrical, digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, and other related attributes.
(4) Good faith means truthfulness.
(5) Incapacity is the inability of a person to make decisions related to property or business affairs.
(6) Person is an individual, corporation, estate, partnership, Limited Liability Company, joint venture, government agency, or any other commercial entity.
(7) Power of attorney is writing or form that gives an agent the authority to act in the stead of a principal. Whether the term power of attorney is used or not.
(8) Principal is the person who transfers authority to an agent in a POA.
(9) “Property” refers to anything that is owned by the principal. It can be natural, personal or legal.
(10) “Sign” means, to assent and authenticate the agreement.
Filling a DPOA Form in West Virginia
Before you fill out a durable POA form, there are certain details you want to ensure are intact and you also want to avoid any kind of error.
Ready to fill a blank durable POA form? Follow these easy steps:
Designate an agent
A POA in its entirety thrives on a principal designating power to their agent. So, before entering into this agreement, the principal must first find someone they trust enough to be their agent.
As the principal, you must have a thorough understanding of what the POA contract entails, and the potential risks involved in giving someone else that much power over your finances or properties.
Subsequently, both the principal and agent are expected to write their names and contacts at the top of the West Virginia DPAO form.
Once the principal has found a representative they trust, they need to highlight which area(s) of their life they want the agent to have legal power over in the West Virginia durable power of attorney form. The authority can be unlimited or general. On the other hand, it can be a limited or specific authority.
The general authority can include business operation whereas limited areas include real estate, stocks, bonds, claims and litigation, retirement plans, banks, finances, etc. For example, a client can be said to have given limited authority to a representative if the agent can sell or lease only a certain property.
The principal can also specifically detail all the actions the agent can perform for them, using the Inter Vivo Trust or a living trust.
Ensure form durability
If you want the terms of a POA to continue to be effective even after the principal’s incapacitation in West Virginia, you must ensure the form is made durable. Interestingly, a POA form is automatically considered durable in West Virginia unless otherwise stated on the form.
Sign and date the form
For any official or legal document, signing and dating are a given. So, for a POA form to be deemed completed and valid, both stakeholders (the principal and agent) must sign and date it.
You should also ensure that you need to notarize your form after this signing and dating have been done. This is usually compulsory in West Virginia. So, the notary public overseeing signature acceptance in West Virginia will subsequently authenticate the DPOA form.
Following are a few editable forms for you:
Storage and Usage of West Virginia Durable Power of Attorney Form
Every legal document is essential, and a POA form should be treated as the same. For posterity’s sake, you should store your West Virginia durable POA form in a secure location in your home or a safe deposit box after it’s completed.
About usage, you should make copies of the DPOA form and give one to your agent. It is also advisable that you give copies to a third-party entity (like a bank or real estate agency) where the form will be used and a trusted friend or family member.
Signing on behalf of the principal
As a principal, your agent can sign on your behalf if unavailable. However, it is important to inform the third-party entity or place where the DPOA will be affected for this to happen. You’ll also need to provide them with your ID and that of your agent as part of the security process.
After these steps have been taken, your agent can sign on your behalf using the format below:
by [Agent’s Name]
Power of Attorney
Note that once the third party approves the DPOA and you have granted your agent the authority, the agent can carry out every possible legal action just like you.
Revoking a West Virginia durable POA
According to the law, a principal can revoke an active power of attorney whenever they wish and for whatever reason. But, like every other POA process, there are steps to follow when you want to revoke a DPOA in West Virginia. And it is within your right to do this as a principal.
You should fill out and file a revocation of power of attorney form. This form permits you to change your mind about who you want as your representative for personal, business, health, and legal matters.
A revocation of the POA form should specify two things:
- The identity of the agent to be revoked
- The date the POA should be effectively revoked (though this is usually immediately).
While a DPOA cannot be revoked in West Virginia if the principal is incapacitated, someone else (usually family) can override the existing POA if they believe there is abuse, fraud, negligence, or a case of the agent not acting in the principal’s best interests.
There have been times when agents were found guilty of such terrible acts towards their clients, you should have an agent you can completely vouch for.
A durable power of attorney in West Virginia assigns power to someone who ultimately makes salient decisions related to your health, finances, and assets on your behalf. But there are also state laws and processes that must be strictly adhered to for your DPOA to be binding. So, you need to understand the details and extent of this sort of agreement.
It is advisable that for this kind of legal action, you have an experienced legal practitioner on your side to advise you and take a lot of stress off you by handling all of the significant processes. This way, you’ll make informed decisions and avoid costly errors on the way.