What should I know about powers of attorney? A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows you to name an agent to make financial decisions in the event of an unfortunate event. Beck and Lenox Estate Planning and Elder Law has always maintained that all independent adults over the age of 18 should have power of attorney documents created for themselves. That includes college students!
Having a POA in place will help you to avoid conservatorship, guardianship and other related court proceedings. Bay Citizen’s recent article, “5 Tips for Creating an Efficient Power of Attorney,” provides some tips to help you through the process.
- Know the Different Types. There is a durable POA that will handle your financial affairs and remains effective even after you’re incapacitated. There is also a Healthcare POA. For this article, when a durable POA is mentioned, we are referring to the financial POA.
- Designate a Trustworthy Agent. This agent will make major financial decisions on your behalf, so consider the agent’s character. Your agent should be someone you trust, so be sure of their honesty. They should also be competent and familiar with financial matters and related topics. Please note: You do not have to automatically give this responsibility to your oldest child. Pick the best person for the job.
A suitable agent should also be available, meaning you should choose someone who lives nearby. This will make them efficient when the time to decide on your behalf comes.
- Be Sure to Provide Relevant Information to Your Agent. Disclose financial information, like bank accounts, investments and debts owed. You should also share your medical information and history, along with your care wishes and what should happen upon your death.
This should include the date you created and signed the document, contact information and the effective date. Doing this will help ensure that the agent makes an informed decision when the time comes.
- Consider a Successor Agent. People can relocate, making it difficult to make decisions from afar. For this reason, you should name a successor agent who will step in if the primary agent cannot do so. Consider the factors you did when selecting the first-choice agent when choosing one.
If you don’t have a successor agent, you should specify in the POA how your successor agent will be chosen when you are disabled or incapacitated. Failure to do so can invalidate the POA if your agent is unable or unwilling to serve.
- Consult an Experienced Elder Law Attorney. An experienced elder law attorney will guide you and ensure that the document is clear and legally binding. They’ll customize and update your POA when necessary.
Being disabled or incapacitated can create a challenge when making an important decision. This is worse if you don’t have a POA. Ask an experienced elder law attorney like the ones at Beck, Lenox & Stolzer to set this up for you and your loved ones. Call the office or go online to schedule a free consultation by phone.
Reference: Bay Citizen (July 20, 2023) “5 Tips for Creating an Efficient Power of Attorney”