Tips for Selecting and Appointing a Power of Attorney
“Children may have moved away or lost touch. Old contacts may have died or become disabled. You cannot trust everyone and criminal cases based on misuse of a power of attorney do exist.”
Deciding who to name as your power of attorney, or “agent” is not an easy decision. However, it is a necessary appointment, says the article “Ways to protect yourself when appointing a power of attorney” from The Mercury. Disaster and disability strike without advance notice, so it’s important to make this decision while you are well and can think it through.
If you don’t have a power of attorney in place and the unexpected occurs, the only way for your family to obtain legal authority to act on your behalf is through a guardianship procedure. Even when not contested, guardianship is expensive, time-consuming, and can limit personal freedom. Not every court will award guardianship to a family member, so the end result could be a stranger taking control of your decisions and property.
Having a power of attorney is a far better alternative, but there are seniors who are concerned about the power of a POA and how it might be abused.
Here are some tips to keep you in control of your life even with a POA:
Choose Your Agent Wisely
Choose wisely when you are well. Choose your agent when you are of sound mind and body. A common “test” is the checkbook test: could you, right now, hand this person your checkbook without a second thought? Do you believe this person would act responsibly, in your own best interest, follow through in paying bills, ask for help in areas they may not understand, record transactions, and be scrupulously honest? If you hesitate to give them your checkbook today, you aren’t likely to trust them to run your life in the future.
Many people choose an agent based on whether the person is the oldest child or if there would be hurt feelings if the person was named. These are not good reasons. A person who has problems managing money, for whatever reason, is not a good candidate. Their own stress might make access to your funds too great to resist.
Name a Secondary Power Of Attorney
Customize Your Power of Attorney to Your Personal Needs
Consider Whether to Name One or Two Agents
Two agents or one agent? Not all banks or investment companies will accept two agents. If they do, will the two people you select be able to work together? If not, naming two could create a financial and legal firestorm.
Consider Separating Financial and Healthcare Powers Of Attorney
Know That You Can Remove Your Agent at Any Time
Fire when necessary. You always have the right to remove someone from their role as your agent. Your attorney will know how to do this properly to protect you and other agents.
Choose Wisely and Protect Yourself When Naming a Power of Attorney
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