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How To Make a Power of Attorney in Vermont FAQ

Written by: Catherine Hodder, Esq. , Senior Legal Writer
Reviewed by: Jordan Walker, J.D. , Legal Writer
Last updated May 20, 2024

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A power of attorney is a helpful document to have if you need help with your legal or financial affairs, whether for convenience or due to an illness or incapacity. Learn the benefits of power of attorney documents and how to make a valid power of attorney in Vermont.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that you, as the “principal,” authorize someone you trust as your “agent” or “attorney in fact” to make decisions on your behalf. The Vermont Uniform Power of Attorney Act V.S.A. §4001 through §4063 covers the rules regarding powers of attorney.

There are different types of powers of attorney used for different purposes. A financial power of attorney gives your agent the authority to handle legal and financial matters. A medical power of attorney gives your agent authority to manage your healthcare and make medical decisions on your behalf when you cannot make them yourself.

If you suddenly can’t manage your affairs and don’t have an agent to act in your place, your family members may have to petition a court for a conservatorship. The court then appoints a conservator who has the legal authority to handle your legal and financial decisions. But if you have already named an agent in a power of attorney document, your loved ones won’t need to spend time and money in court.

Who Can Be My Agent?

Any competent adult (meaning having a sound mind) can serve as an agent in Vermont. You can choose a family member, friend, or professional adviser. When choosing your agent, you want someone you trust, but they should also be responsible and organized. An agent has broad power over your money and assets, but they have a fiduciary duty to avoid conflicts and act in your best interest.

Avoid naming more than one agent or co-agents in a power of attorney. If you want your agents to work together, nothing will get done if they disagree. If you let them act independently, they may reverse each other’s actions. Instead, name one person as your primary agent and another agent as your backup or successor agent if the primary agent is unavailable.

What Can My Agent Do in Vermont?

Your agent can handle a wide range of activities that you authorize, such as paying bills, accessing bank accounts, and managing your real estate. Under Vermont §4034 through §4047, you give your agent the power to handle transactions involving the following:

  • Real property (real estate)
  • Tangible personal property (personal possessions)
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Commodities and options
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Operation of entity or business
  • Insurance and annuities
  • Estates, trusts, and other beneficial interests
  • Claims and litigation
  • Personal and family maintenance
  • Benefits from governmental programs or civil or military service
  • Retirement plans
  • Taxes
  • Gifts

However, there are other specific powers that you may or may not want to authorize. These powers allow your agent to give away your property and reduce your estate. This may be something you want your agent to be able to do if, for example, you want them to minimize your estate taxes or qualify you for government benefits like Medicaid. In Vermont, under §4031, you must expressly grant that your agent has the power to:

  • Create, amend, revoke, or terminate a living trust
  • Make a gift
  • Create or change rights of survivorship
  • Create or change a beneficiary designation
  • Delegate authority granted under the power of attorney
  • Waive the principal’s right to be a beneficiary of a joint and survivor annuity, including a survivor benefit under a retirement plan
  • Authorize another person to exercise the authority granted under the power of attorney
  • Exercise authority over the content of electronic communications
  • Disclaim property, including a power of appointment
  • Exercise a written waiver of spousal rights
  • Exercise authority with respect to intellectual property
  • Convey or revoke or revise a grantee designation, by life estate deed

When granting powers, consider what powers your agent needs to handle things the way you want. Talk with your agent about their responsibilities and your expectations in managing your money and property.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney in Vermont?

durable power of attorney remains effective even if you become incapacitated, allowing your agent to continue making decisions for you. Under §4004, the power of attorney is durable unless the principal expressly provides that it terminates by the incapacity or unavailability of the principal.

When Is the Power of Attorney Effective?

Under §4009, a power of attorney is effective when signed unless the principal provides that it becomes effective at a future date or upon the occurrence of a future event or contingency. For example, you can make your POA effective upon your incapacity, which is called a “springing” power of attorney.

When Does the Power of Attorney End?

Your power of attorney ends when you die. There are other events when your power of attorney terminates, such as:

  • You become incapacitated or unavailable (if the power of attorney is non-durable).
  • The power of attorney provides a termination date or event.
  • The purpose of the power of attorney is accomplished.
  • The agent dies, becomes incapacitated or unavailable, or resigns, and the power of attorney does not provide for another agent to act under the power of attorney.

Your agent’s authority terminates when:

  • You revoke their authority
  • The agent dies, becomes incapacitated or unavailable, or resigns.
  • Your agent is your spouse, and you file a petition for divorce or annulment unless you provide otherwise in your power of attorney.
  • The power of attorney terminates.

By naming a backup agent to your power of attorney, you ensure that the power of attorney won’t lapse due to the lack of an agent.

Does Vermont Have a Statutory Power of Attorney?

Yes, under §4051, there is a Vermont statutory power of attorney form. However, Vermont does not require you to use this template. You can either create a power of attorney by doing it yourself or hiring an estate planning attorney.

Can I Make My Power of Attorney in Vermont?

Yes. As long as you are an adult and mentally competent, you may make a power of attorney in Vermont. When creating a power of attorney, you should know who you will name as your agent and what authority to give them. Many people looking for self-help options use online power of attorney forms. If you have questions about making a power of attorney, you may want to talk with an attorney for legal advice.

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How Do I Make My Power of Attorney Valid in Vermont?

Under Vermont §4005, you must sign your power of attorney document or direct someone to sign it for you in your conscious presence. A notary public must also attest to your signature to make your power of attorney valid.

Do I Have to Notarize My Power of Attorney in Vermont?

Yes. For a power of attorney to be valid in Vermont, a notary public must acknowledge it.

What Should I Do After Signing My Power of Attorney?

After signing your power of attorney, you should provide a copy to your agent and any institutions or individuals that may rely on it. It’s also wise to discuss your wishes and instructions with your agent to ensure they understand their responsibilities.

A third party, such as a bank or financial institution, may ask your agent to complete an agent certification form in which your agent attests that your power of attorney is effective, and that they have the authority to act as your agent.

Does a Power of Attorney Agent Get Paid in Vermont?

In Vermont, your agent may receive reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred while serving under your power of attorney. Your agent may also receive reasonable compensation for their time unless you state otherwise in the document.

Is My Vermont Power of Attorney Valid in Another State?

Yes. Generally, a power of attorney created and executed according to Vermont laws will be recognized in another state.

Can I Revoke My Vermont Power of Attorney?

Yes. As long as you are mentally competent, you can revoke your power of attorney at any time. Give your written revocation to your agent and all third parties who relied on your original POA. You should also destroy the original power of attorney.

What Estate Planning Documents Should I Have in Vermont?

In addition to your financial power of attorney, a health care directive and last will and testament make a complete estate plan.

A healthcare directive called an advance directive in Vermont combines a power of attorney for healthcare and a living will. In your directive, you name a healthcare agent to access your medical records, speak with providers, and make healthcare decisions for you when you can’t make them yourself. You can also include your wishes for your end-of-life care, such as what life-prolonging measures you want to be given or withheld if you have an end-stage or terminal illness.

last will and testament lets you control who handles your estate, inherits your property, and cares for your minor children. Without a will, you die “intestate,” and a probate court follows intestacy laws for property distribution and decides who manages your estate and cares for your children. With a will, you are in charge of your family and your property, giving you peace of mind.

Fortunately, by using online estate planning templates, it is easy to create a valid power of attorney and other Vermont estate planning documents.

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