5 Tips for Choosing Your Power of Attorney
On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in Estate Planning on Thursday, February 16, 2023
Choosing a power of attorney is a significant aspect of creating a comprehensive estate plan. However, there are multiple types of powers of attorney in North Carolina, including healthcare power of attorney and durable power of attorney. This makes your decision regarding who performs this role very important.
The power of attorney you select will be granted the legal ability to handle everything you would otherwise be responsible for when you cannot make decisions on your own. This may involve registering your car, making healthcare decisions, and purchasing or selling your home.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the right power of attorney.
First, Choose Your Agent Wisely
When you give someone power of attorney, they are authorized to act within limits outlined in the document. But choosing your power of attorney agent wisely is critical. Your “attorney in fact” will be able to make all legal decisions you would make should you become unable to do so.
Your agent can sell or buy property, create legal documents, take out loans in your name, and authorize payment of debts. Before you choose someone to act as power of attorney:
1. Make Sure You Trust Them
First and foremost, you must ensure your power of attorney is someone you trust. Your power of attorney attorney-in-fact will be responsible for making major decisions regarding your financial and/or physical well-being.
If you do not trust your power of attorney agent to make the same decisions you will make, you could be at risk of your power of attorney abusing privileges. For example, if you named your adult child power of attorney and got into an argument, you could be at risk of your power of attorney draining your bank account, as they have the authority to do so.
2. Ensure They’ll Act in Your Best Interest
Although there are many benefits to having a power of attorney, you’ll want to choose a power of attorney agent who will always act in your best interests.
It is crucial to review your decisions with your attorney-in-fact, so they understand what you believe your best interests are. This can include specific medical decisions and interventions, financial matters, investment opportunities, real estate, and the distribution of your assets.
3. Choose a Successor Agent (Just in Case)
It is vital to have a successor agent or co-agent of your power of attorney just in case your primary agent cannot make the decisions you were relying on them to make.
However, having a successor agent can make things a little bit more challenging. Financial institutions will often require proof that the initial power of attorney is unable to act or unavailable. Conversely, this could help protect you from being taken advantage of by your power of attorney or successor agent.
4. Ensure Your Agent Meets the Requirements
The person you select must meet various legal requirements to become a power of attorney agent. For instance, you cannot choose a minor to act as your power of attorney because your power of attorney must be at least 18 years old.
Your power of attorney documents must also be signed before a notary before the agreement becomes legally binding.
5. Choose Someone Fit for the Role
Your power of attorney agent will make all major decisions regarding the type of affairs assigned within your POA.
A durable power of attorney will be responsible for handling all financial matters. For this reason, it may be wise to choose an agent who will handle all your personal or business transactions and financial matters. You would not want to select someone with no experience handling business affairs or making major financial decisions, for example.
Alternatively, if you are selecting someone to act as your healthcare agent, having a power of attorney who understands how the medical system works, what your medical decisions would be, and can make informed decisions will be in your best interests.
You can also take the time to select a power of attorney who is willing to work with your estate planning attorney to understand the entirety of their role, so they are as equipped as possible to handle your affairs should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so.
Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney
Your power of attorney must be authorized to make necessary decisions and trusted to follow your wishes. When you need guidance in choosing the right power of attorney for you but do not know where to start, contact an experienced estate planning lawyer at Randall & Stump, PLLC.
You can schedule your confidential case evaluation as soon as today when you complete our secured contact form or call our office at 980-237-4579.