Helping Your Family Move Forward

Choose your financial power of attorney agent with care

A power of attorney is a document that allows you to choose someone to represent you. This person, called your agent or your attorney-in-fact, can take over many tasks for you including banking transactions, paying bills, buying or selling property, filing your tax returns, signing contracts, applying for benefits and hiring people to care for you.

Because your agent can manage such important financial matters, it is important to choose your agent carefully. Many people choose adult family members, but close friends or even professionals can also be chosen. Several considerations when choosing an agent include your trust in this person, this person’s ability to manage the tasks and this person’s willingness to take on the duties.

Trust

Trust is the most important factor when considering who to appoint as your agent. You should not choose someone solely because he or she is the eldest child or because you do not want someone to feel bad. You need to choose someone who you trust will manage your affairs the way you would like them managed.

Ability

You should also consider the person’s ability to manage the required tasks. Someone’s ability may be based partially on his or her expertise. Perhaps you have a daughter who is an accountant. However, it should also be based on the location and schedule of this person. Maybe your daughter lives far away, which would make it difficult for her to perform her duties as your agent. Alternatively, she could be especially busy with her own life and may simply not have the time to take on additional responsibilities. Whoever you choose should be able to manage your financial affairs with as few barriers as possible.

Willingness

Once you have determined who you would like to serve as your agent, you should talk with this candidate and make sure he or she is willing to take on the duties. If you never ask permission, you risk the person declining the position later, which may leave you in a lurch. By asking permission before appointing your agent, you will also be able to explain what you want help with and how you like tasks completed. This can help your agent get a better idea of what he or she is committing to, and it may give you peace of mind that your finances will be managed in the way you would like.

There are several factors to consider when choosing an agent for a financial power of attorney. However, it is important to choose your agent carefully to make sure your finances will be managed honestly and effectively.