Much of what your estate plan focuses on is what happens to your estate after you pass away. This can be beneficial for your family and loved ones who may otherwise fight over your estate. Yet, your estate plan also has one crucial aspect that decides what happens to you and your estate while you’re still alive.
If you suddenly fall ill, suffer from a debilitating accident or develop a mental condition all of which could inhibit your ability to make decisions, then you may need a power of attorney. A power of attorney is an agent declared in your estate plan who makes decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. A power of attorney can be designated to manage your financial and health decisions – that means paying rent, utility bills and taxes and overseeing your medical treatment, medication and surgery.
You can have just about anyone as your power of attorney, however, does that mean anyone is fit to be your agent? Certain characteristics make some people better powers of attorney than others. Here’s what you should consider:
Do you trust them?
The most important thing about a power of attorney may be their trustworthiness. You won’t be in the right state of mind to ensure they’re making the right decisions for you. However, you may be able to talk to your power of attorney about what would happen under certain circumstances.
For instance, if you were given the choice to undergo a life-saving surgery, but the survival chances are low, you may want your power of attorney to let you undergo surgery.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean your power of attorney will agree to your wishes. Yet, despite their opposing beliefs, a trustworthy power of attorney will make a decision in your best interest.
Are they responsible?
Trustworthiness is perhaps only half the battle, however. You may trust them to do the right thing, but your power of attorney also has to be present in an emergency. That means, if you’re incapacitated, your power of attorney should be ready to spring into action.
If you’re making an estate plan, you should be sure you’ve chosen the right power of attorney who has your best interests in mind.