In certain circumstances, it might seem obvious to you who you would want to make decisions on your behalf or sign legal documents as your agent if you are absent, such as serving active military duty overseas. For instance, if you are married, you would probably choose your spouse. If you are single, you might choose one of your parents or a sibling. In non-military situations, however, there might be several more factors to consider before granting someone a power of attorney.
As part of the estate planning process, many people choose to sign a power of attorney, sometimes more than one. There are several types, such as authority to make health care decisions or financial decisions. Granting someone authority to be an acting agent on your behalf is a serious matter, which requires careful consideration of all relevant issues.
Always choose someone you trust to have power of attorney
Trustworthiness and integrity are two of the primary characteristics you may want a person to have, if he or she is going to act in your absence or on your behalf, if you are incapacitated. Who do you know that you can trust with your money or trust to carry out your wishes as you have instructed?
Give power of attorney to someone with basic medical or finance knowledge
If you are going to entrust your end-of-life care decisions or decisions about finances to another person, you will want the person to have at least a basic understanding of issues that may arise. For instance, a person should know about life support, feeding tubes and other extraneous devices used to prolong life.
Someone handling your finances should be familiar with your accounts and have a clear understanding of the issues, such as Medicare issues, hospital billing, insurance matters and more. The person does not have to be an expert but should understand basic terminology and be familiar with the topics.
It often requires assertiveness to fulfill the role
If you are considering granting power of attorney to someone who is shy and does not like to be involved in debate or conflict or, even, serious discussions, this might not be the best choice available. A person acting as an agent with power of attorney often has to be proactive and assertive to make sure that events unfold as the principal (person who signed the power of attorney) would want.
It is best to choose someone who is confident, articulate and willing to stand alone in a crowd, if the need arises, in order to meet your wishes. Finally, always make sure that the person you have chosen is willing to fulfill the role.