Vermont law allows an agent to do some things, if you want, and prohibits other actions even if you would want the agent to be able to take them.
You can give your agent the power to generally handle your financial affairs or you can give your agent power to only make specific decisions. Even if a Power of Attorney exists, the agent is still required to follow your directions. When an agent acts within the authority of the Power of Attorney, including acting according to your instructions, those actions are legally binding as if you took the action yourself.
If you do not want your agent to have the power to do something, put those instructions in your Power of Attorney. Even if you did not put the instruction in your Power of Attorney, you can tell your agent not to do something or to stop doing something and they have to follow your instruction. If your agent does something you told them not to do, you can sue the agent for damages. You can also ask a court to void (undo) a transaction that the agent started in your name.
You can draft your Power of Attorney to give your agent any or all of these general powers:
- pay bills like your rent or mortgage
- conduct your financial transactions
- handle your investments
- apply for public benefits on your behalf
- hire caregivers for you
- make housing decisions for you
- exercise your legal rights and conduct lawsuits
What can’t an agent do?
There are some things your agent cannot do unless you specifically say they can do them. These specific powers are:
- the power to convey (buy, sell, or give away) your real estate
- the power to pay the agent out of your money
- the power to make gifts or loans with your money to a third party
- the power to make gifts or loans with your money to the agent
- the power to appoint another person as an alternate or successor agent
There are some things your agent can never do:
- An agent cannot execute, revoke or modify a will or living will for you, even if you would like your agent to do this.
- If your agent disagrees with you about what should be done with your financial affairs, he or she cannot act against your instructions.
What about health care decisions?
You cannot give the power to make health care decisions as part of a financial Power of Attorney document. If you want to have someone make health care decisions for you, you should write an advance directive. An advance directive is sometimes called a “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.”
Your health care agent can be the same person as your financial agent, you just need two documents to do that.
You can find more information about advance directives on our Advance Directives page.