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Choosing the right agent for powers of attorney

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Power of attorney documents are among the most valuable inclusions in modern estate plans. Someone’s power of attorney paperwork can protect them from receiving inappropriate medical care given their personal wishes. Their documents can also protect them against financial hardship, especially if they do not have a spouse who can maintain their resources during a medical issue that causes incapacitation.

Powers of attorney can help protect older adults from the possibility of guardianship. If they draft durable documents that retain their authority even in the event of permanent incapacitation, older adults can effectively choose who manages their affairs on their behalf when they can no longer do so. The agent or attorney-in-fact designated in someone’s power of attorney paperwork has direct control over their financial resources or medical care in an emergency.

How can people choose the right parties to grant authority in their power of attorney paperwork?

Look at someone’s overall conduct

Whether someone could properly serve as an individual’s agent depends on their overall conduct and competence. Choosing someone with a deep sense of personal ethics and responsibility is often important. People may misuse their authority for personal gain.

Additionally, looking at whether someone readily accepts responsibility or tries to avoid difficult situations can help. Someone needs to know whether they can handle conflict. They may need to stand up to medical professionals or to family members who may have an inappropriate sense of entitlement.

Also, the health and age of the potential agent is an important consideration. Ideally, the person selected should be young enough to continue serving in that role for the duration of someone’s golden years if they require long-term care and experience permanent incapacitation.  In some cases, empowering more than one person can be a viable solution.

The process of selecting the right agent or attorney-in-fact can be a difficult one that may require lengthy consideration. Even then, testators may eventually need to revise their prior choices. People may eventually need to update their documents to name someone else to that important role when their circumstances or relationships change.

Choosing the right person to act on one’s behalf can be as important as the decision to draft powers of attorney in the first place.