Choosing your power of attorney is an important part of your estate plan. While it may not feel as prominent as your will or trust, it can have a huge impact.
Understand what a power of attorney is
Power of attorney is someone that you appoint to have authority over certain decisions in your life if you become incapacitated. You can assign them to deal with financial matters or healthcare decisions, either according to their own discretion or according to decisions you have written down in documents like a healthcare directive.
What to look for in your power of attorney
You will be giving your power of attorney a significant amount of power over your wellbeing and finances, so be careful about who you choose. Only select someone that you trust.
You also need to choose someone who will make decisions according to your wishes, rather than what they want. Your power of attorney must understand their responsibilities and take them seriously, as well as understand the financial, business or healthcare implications of their role.
Combat potential abuse
Financial power of attorney abuse is unfortunately common. With so much power, it’s easy for a power of attorney to take hold of your finances for themselves. Additionally, if your power of attorney has a personal interest in your estate, like a child, it can create issues and mistrust amongst the family.
To help combat potential abuse, you can decide to name two power of attorneys. They will be required to work together and are more likely to keep one another in check than when there is a sole power of attorney acting on their own.
Knowing that you chose the right power of attorney for your healthcare and financial life can be a huge burden lifted during the estate planning process. It can be helpful to have an open dialogue with those you are considering and ask for the input of people you trust, including your attorney