It can be stressful to think about all of the financial and medical issues that you will face throughout your lifetime. There is no way to predict the future, but you can plan for it. That includes recognizing that there may be a time in your life when you are unable to make medical and financial decisions for yourself. You can take action now by appointing a power of attorney who will be able to make decisions for you in the event that you become physically or mentally incapacitated.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person, known as your agent, the authority to act for you in case you are unable to do so. You can grant the agent full power of attorney, or you can limit the power of attorney to allow your agent to act only in certain areas, such as buying or selling property. In order to create a power of attorney, you must be mentally competent. You cannot wait until you are incapacitated to sign the document.
Who can be a Power of Attorney?
The first step in protecting your future is to find the right person to act as your agent. There are only two legal requirements for a power of attorney:
- The person must be 18 years of age or older.
- The person must be medically competent.
Your agent can be a friend, family member, or attorney. You can also choose an organization to serve as your agent. The number one goal is to make sure that your agent will always make choices that will be in your best interests.
Who should I choose to be my Power of Attorney?
Choosing the person who will act as your power of attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make for your future. Most people will select someone they have a close relationship with, and someone who is likely to be in their life for a long time, such as a spouse, significant other, or family member. Here are a few personal qualities that may indicate a good choice for your agent:
- Someone who you can trust to make responsible choices as it relates to your financial welfare.
- Someone who will not attempt to take advantage of their role as power of attorney.
- Someone who will be able to respect your wishes even if they personally disagree. This is especially important for decisions related to medical care.
- Someone who can remain calm under pressure.
- Someone who can manage conflicts that may arise among other family members related to your finances or medical care.
Choosing the person who will serve as your agent can feel like a stressful decision. Your goal is to find the person that is best-suited to handle the duties and responsibilities. Ultimately, you will have to follow your instincts and trust that you will make the right choice.
How can an attorney help with this process?
Many people go to the internet for legal advice. In the case of a power of attorney document, it is best to work with an expert probate attorney. Sample documents from the internet may not reflect current laws and they may not be valid in your state. By hiring a probate attorney, you can ensure that your document is valid and that your agent will be empowered to act in the event that you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.