AARP reported that only around half of adults have a power of attorney and those over the age of 72 are more likely to have one at about 83%. When creating a POA, you will have to designate an agent who will hold the power of the appointment.
This is an important decision that involves entrusting someone with legal authority over your financial, medical or legal matters. You must choose an individual you can rely on to act in your best interests and make decisions that align with your wishes.
Understand the role
Before selecting a POA agent, you should understand the role and types of POAs. There are various forms of POA, including general, limited, financial and medical. Determine which type of POA you need and clarify the scope of authority you want to grant to your agent.
Consider the characteristics
Choose someone you trust implicitly and who has demonstrated reliability in their personal and professional life. This person should act in your best interests and uphold the highest ethical standards.
Depending on the type of POA, your agent may need specific knowledge and expertise. For financial matters, financial acumen is essential, while a medical POA agent should have a solid understanding of healthcare decisions.
Ensure your chosen agent is willing to accept the responsibility and has the availability to fulfill this role. It is important to have someone who can act promptly when needed.
Consider the geographical proximity of your agent. If they need to make in-person decisions or manage physical assets, having them close by can be advantageous.
Your agent should be empathetic and compassionate, especially if they are responsible for making medical decisions. They should be sensitive to your values and preferences.
Discuss with family
If you have a close-knit family, discuss your choice of agent with your loved ones. Family dynamics can influence your decision, and itis important to have everyone on the same page.
Maintain clear communication
Effective communication is paramount. Select an agent who can clearly convey your wishes to healthcare providers, financial institutions and legal professionals. They should also be capable of explaining complex matters to you.
It is wise to designate a backup or successor agent in case your primary choice becomes unavailable or unable to carry out their duties. This ensures a smooth transition if the need arises.
Periodically review your choice of agent to ensure it remains suitable. People’s circumstances and relationships can change over time, and your choice should reflect your current needs and preferences.
Choosing a power of attorney agent is a significant decision that requires careful thought and consideration. You must take time to decide so that you are comfortable with the final choice.