Who Should I Choose to Be My Power of Attorney?

power of attorney, Wheaton estate planning lawyerHave you ever thought about who should handle your affairs if you became physically or mentally capacitated? Sadly, unexpected accidents and illnesses can affect even individuals who are otherwise young and healthy. A power of attorney is a type of advance directive that allows a person to designate a representative or “agent” to speak on his or her behalf in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury. The term “power of attorney” is used to refer to the estate planning tool as well as the individual who is chosen to act as the agent. This is a heavy responsibility, so it is important to choose someone who is capable of handling the role.

Financial Power of Attorney and Power of Attorney for Healthcare

A power of attorney for healthcare, also called a medical power of attorney, allows you to choose a representative to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to express your own medical wishes. For example, if complications arise during surgery and you are under anesthesia, your power of attorney for healthcare may need to make decisions on your behalf about how to proceed.

A financial power of attorney allows you to choose a representative to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Your agent will be responsible for paying your bills and handling other monetary or real estate matters.  Some individuals choose to assign both medical and financial responsibilities to the same person, while others choose to assign these roles to two different people.

Considerations When Assigning Powers of Attorney

Choosing the person who will take on the huge responsibility of being your agent is often a difficult task. You may be conflicted about who you should assign as your financial or medical power or attorney. When choosing an agent, it is essential to choose someone who you can trust. You must also ask yourself whether or not this person can handle the duties for which he or she will be responsible.

For example, you may be extremely close with your adult son, but he might struggle to pay his bills or file his taxes on time. Although you may love him dearly, he may not be the best choice for managing your financial affairs. You should also consider how a potential agent would handle a decision that other family members or friends may disagree with. For example, perhaps you explain in advance to your medical power of attorney that you do not want to be kept alive via artificial ventilation if you are close to death. If you later become fatally sick or injured and the question of artificial ventilation arises, will he or she be strong enough to follow your wishes even if other loved ones disagree?

Contact a Wheaton, Illinois Estate Planning Lawyer

For estate planning guidance from a seasoned DuPage County estate planning attorney, contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call our office today at 630-665-2500 and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs.

Sources:

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/managing-wealth/042216/medical-vs-financial-power-attorney-reasons-separate-them.asp

https://www.verywellhealth.com/characteristics-for-choosing-power-of-attorney-4134991