5 Things to Consider When Appointing a Power of Attorney
One of the most important aspects of your end of life plan is appointing your power of attorney. An individual appointed power of attorney has the ability to make medical, real estate, and other important decisions that can affect your health, your finances, and the rest of your estate. That’s why it’s important to be succinct when choosing a power of attorney.
Appointing a power of attorney before the need for one arises can provide an added assurance and ease any worries over “what-if” scenarios. A pre-appointed power of attorney can also help make quick decisions, taking the pressure off of family members to make important medical or legal decisions that otherwise would take much longer.
The Role of Power of Attorney
Powers of attorney allow an individual, known as an agent, to make important decisions on behalf of another person (known as the principle). There are various spheres of influence a power of attorney had decision-making power in, including:
- Medical decisions such as surgery, medication, care facility, etc.
- Real estate transactions
- Trust management
- Financial decisions
Related Reading: What is Power of Attorney?
Agents given powers of attorney wield an incredible amount of power in their granted spheres. When choosing someone to be your power of attorney in any capacity, it’s important to decide based on that person’s trustworthiness and ability to accurately represent your wishes in a given circumstance, even if those wishes do not align with their own convictions.
Characteristics of an Effective Power of Attorney
Someone Who Can Hold Their Ground
One of the first things you want to look for in a power of attorney is someone who is assertive and can hold their ground when it comes to decisions. Acting as an agent can be taxing, especially with so many opinions being thrown out on how a medical decision, real estate, transaction, etc. should be handled. While individuals who are passive are able to appease the masses, they often aren’t effective in making a decision and sticking to it, despite push back from others. Choosing a power of attorney who can stand by their decision will do well in ensuring that your wishes are honored.
Being a power of attorney means that that person is acting in your best interest according to what you would want, putting their own opinions aside to honor yours. Choosing someone dependable and trustworthy is important to make sure that this happens. As you go through your list of individuals – spouses, children, family, friends – ask yourself: are they dependable? Are they trustworthy? Can they be trusted to do what they say and honor what you want?
Being a power of attorney is often a thankless job. It isn’t glamorous. More often than not, agents are seen as the bad guy by friends and family when they choose to act according to what you would want instead of what family members think they should do. It entails a lot of extra responsibility without anything in return. As you contemplate who to appoint as power of attorney, take time to seriously consider whether or not this person is truly capable of handling that level of responsibility and stress.