Designating Authority– Choosing a Power of Attorney
Understanding what a Durable Power of Attorney is, why it’s important, and what makes a good choice.
Designated legal authority
A Durable Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that designates an Agent to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. These decisions often include financial and medical decisions. It is valid until you die…or change it.
Most people think of this document in terms of end-of-life medical decisions, but it has a much broader influence. A Power of Attorney is granting legal authority to another individual to make decisions on your behalf. These decisions range from financial decisions (setting up banking accounts, safe deposit box, trusts, etc. with access to each), to real estate decisions (buy/sell property), to medical decisions (accessing your medical records, authorizing treatment, including the authority to admit you to various medical facilities, and/or donate anatomical gifts when you pass). All aspects of your life and estate are under the authority of your designated agent.
Making a wise choice
The Agent you choose is responsible to uphold your best interests in the decisions (s)he make on your behalf, but it is your responsibility to make a wise choice. Here are some questions to consider when choosing a power of attorney.
• Do you trust them?
• Do they know you well enough to make decisions on your behalf?
• Do they have the integrity to follow your wishes?
• Do you currently have a healthy relationship?
• Are they able to make independent decisions?
• Would they seek counsel if they needed help?
• Are they close by to manage all the decisions that need to made?
• Are they organized and financially capable of protecting and managing your assets?
Honest answers to these questions will help you decide if an individual would be a good agent.
Revising your decision
Sometimes life changes your circumstances. A Power of Attorney is valid until you die, but there may be times when revisions are necessary. Revisions are easy to make and can quickly outline your wishes and/or designate a new Agent. The new POA document will replace the older version.
Regardless of whether you need a Power of Attorney or need to revise one, the attorneys at Ament Law Group, P.C. can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.