A power of attorney is a legal document that performs a vital role in an estate plan. It nominates an individual or individuals to handle your affairs when you cannot, whether that be when you are in the hospital, you become mentally infirm or you are deemed to be incapacitated. Your power of attorney has access to your financial and health information and has as much power as you let them have, including the power to contract and have access to all of your assets. It does this to avoid the costly and time-consuming process of guardianship, wherein a court has to intervene and appoint a guardian over your assets and affairs. But when considering creating a power of attorney, who should you choose for such an important designation and how do you judge those individuals you consider?
The good news about choosing who you want to serve as your power of attorney is that it is a not a one time decision. You are free to appoint a new power of attorney, replace an existing power of attorney or revoke a power of attorney at any time while you have capacity. This can be done by altering the existing power of attorney document, creating a new one or notifying your current power of attorney that you no longer wish for them to serve.
However, just because a power of attorney can be freely changed does not mean that it is not important to choose the correct power of attorney right off the bat. After all, once you become incapacitated, your power of attorney becomes much more difficult to change, and since a power of attorney acting on your behalf is essentially in charge of managing all of your affairs and assets, it is vitally important that you make the right choice the first time.
But how do you choose? There are a number of practical considerations you should make when choosing your power of attorney but above all else, you should trust your power of attorney with your life, because that is exactly what they will be doing. If you do not trust the person to handle your affairs now, you should not choose them to have access to all your money and property and make vitally important decisions in your life.
From a more practical standpoint, the person you choose should be willing to serve as your power of attorney. It may seem silly to think of people nominating people to serve as their power of attorney when that person does not want to but unfortunately it happens all the time. A power of attorney is a voluntary position and the person you name can decline to serve. If that happens, your power of attorney will be ineffective.
Other practical considerations include choosing someone who is in a position to actually help you or take care of you when you are incapacitated. Choosing a power of attorney who lives halfway across the country may not be very helpful if you need someone who can help take care of you day to day. Choosing an individual who may not have the wherewithal to help you, who may not be emotionally able to cope with making vitally important decisions, or even choosing someone who is older than your or may become incapacitated or pass away before you is also something to consider.
When making these decisions, you should contact Steciuch Law before putting together a power of attorney. We can help guide you through choosing a power of attorney who will work best for you. Contact Steciuch Law at 219-476-3870 or email at email@example.com to set up a free estate planning consultation.