No one likes to think about what may happen if they become ill or incapacitated. However, it is critical to have powers of attorney in place before such an event occurs to ensure your finances and health care decisions are handled according to your wishes. Wills and trusts attorneys advise clients on what to look for in an agent for financial power of attorney – these tips can help you make informed decisions and give you peace of mind.
What is a Financial Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney for finances is a legal document that allows you to name an agent to handle your financial affairs in the event of your incapacitation. In your power of attorney, you may be as general or specific as you wish about how much authority your agent has over your financial affairs. Some common tasks of an agent include paying bills, making deposits, managing assets, selling and buying property, filing taxes on your behalf, running your business, and more. If you fail to create POAs for finances and health care, these decisions could be left up to someone who is appointed by the court.
Selecting an Agent for Financial Power of Attorney
Of course, your agent should be someone you trust to manage your finances honestly and responsibly. Most married couples name their spouse as an agent, but you can choose anyone who is a competent adult. It is also important to choose someone who understands the duties that may be required and is willing to carry them out. Your agent should know your values and be committed to taking their role seriously.
Questions to Consider
Whether you are considering an adult child, close friend, family member, or another person as an agent, asking yourself these questions can be a helpful way to narrow down potential candidates.
- What is your relationship with the person? If it’s a family member, are you confident that they will stand firm when carrying out your wishes, despite what others may want them to do?
- Do they have the ability and skills to handle a range of financial tasks?
- Are they responsible with their own finances?
- Do they have good problem-solving skills?
- How old are they? It is usually a good idea to name someone who will outlive you.
- Do they live nearby? Although it is not required, in most cases it is a good idea to have someone local as your agent for financial POA.
In addition to choosing someone who is trustworthy, if you are aware that naming a certain person could cause serious conflict in the family, you may want to consider choosing someone else. If you are having a hard time deciding, lawyers for wills can provide an objective perspective and help you make practical decisions that protect your interests. .