A power of attorney is a document that you can use to plan for your future. Understandably, you can’t predict exactly how your future will unfold or what needs you’re going to have at every stage of life. Therefore, a power of attorney allows you to select an agent who can make these decisions if you are no longer in a position to advocate on behalf of your own interests.
For example, you may use a medical power of attorney so that this person can talk to your doctors and decide what type of treatment is appropriate if you’re incapacitated. You may use a legal power of attorney if you want someone to have access to bank accounts or to be able to take other important steps on your behalf. Here are some characteristics you should look for in this potential agent.
To begin with, the person needs to be willing to take on the job. It can be complicated and confusing. It can be emotionally difficult. You’ll certainly want to talk to them in advance to find out if they are willing to be named in your power of attorney.
Clearly, you also want someone you can trust. Many people choose family members for this reason. You need to know that the other individual is going to have your best interests at heart when making any decisions on your behalf.
Additionally, consider where the person lives and how quickly they could respond if needed. How fast could they get to the hospital? Will they actually be around and have the time to make these decisions, talk to medical professionals and things of this nature?
Finally, you’ll want to talk to this person about your medical wishes so that they understand them. On top of that, you’ll want to make sure that they have a general understanding of the types of things you’re asking them to do. If you’re executing a power of attorney for healthcare purposes, for example, this individual should be able to intellectually grasp complicated medical procedures to make these decisions. Someone who would be lost or overwhelmed may not be a good choice.
Creating your plan
Deciding who you’re going to choose in your power of attorney is the first step. After you do that, you’ll need to know what additional steps to take to create this documentation as part of your estate plan. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.