It is important to remember that even though mom named you, her child, as her agent under a financial power of attorney, mom is still able to act for herself. The power of attorney does not take away mom’s ability to take care of her own financial matters. Mom can choose the powers that her agent will have under the document. When you act as agent under a financial power of attorney in Virginia, the agent has four basic responsibilities. The basic responsibilities include the following:
1. You must act in mom’s best interest
2. You must manage mom’s money and property with care
3. You must keep mom’s money and property completely separate from your own
4. You must keep good records of all transactions
The agent is managing money or property for mom and you’re supposed to enter into all transactions for mom’s benefit, not for your own benefit. You must also be honest and act in good faith. You should carefully read the power of attorney and only do what the document allows you to do. You are under a duty to follow mom’s instructions and wishes.
Further, it is important that you keep mom’s assets separate from your own. This means that all of mom’s expenses should be paid from her own funds, and not from your own checking account to be reimbursed by mom later. You should keep a detailed list of everything that you receive or spend as agent and additionally keep all receipts and a copy of all financial statements. If mom requests one, you must give mom an accounting of all of the actions you have taken as agent. Acting as agent under a financial power of attorney comes with a lot of responsibility and the agent should know their obligations to avoid any legal problems.
Written by Heather W. Winter, Esquire