Giving someone the Power of Attorney (POA) is an important step in estate planning. To ensure that your wishes are carried out should you become unable to voice them, make sure you choose someone you trust and who understands your wishes.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a written legal document that grants another individual the authority to act on your behalf concerning legal and financial affairs. Typically, granting someone this authority indicates that you trust them to be your voice if your health prevents you from making your own decisions.
Many people see the word “attorney” and think that this authority must be granted to a lawyer. In fact, anyone you trust enough to handle your affairs may become your power of attorney. Many married couples designate their spouse, while some individuals may choose to delegate that responsibility to a parent.
Legally, almost anyone qualifies to act on your behalf. However, you should still take care to choose someone who will do a good job.
7 Qualities to Look for in a POA
So, what characteristics are important in a power of attorney? Here are 7 qualities that we believe should be present in the person you choose.
1. Attention to Detail
Grant power of attorney to an individual who notices the small things. Handling legal matters is best suited to those who are more likely to notice small errors, stipulations, or loopholes in documents or systems.
2. Honesty and Reliability
Naturally, if you choose to grant someone else authority over your money and property, that person should be trustworthy. Grant power of attorney to someone who has proven themself honest.
Depending on the situation, your POA may need to show up to a law firm or hospital quickly. Try to pick someone who lives relatively near you. This won’t always be possible but should be considered.
4. Articulate and Assertive
Your POA must be able to act in your interest clearly and with authority. Good speaking skills, as well as confidence, are both excellent qualities of a power of attorney.
5. Legal Knowledge
Since your power of attorney will be dealing with legal matters, it might be helpful if they possess a little bit of legal knowledge.
6. Financial Knowledge
Likewise, granting someone power of attorney means granting them power over your finances. Make sure they handle money well.
Choose someone whose loyalty and commitment to your affairs can be entirely trusted. Your POA acts like you, so they should possess a good understanding of your wishes and desires.
Other Tips for Choosing Your POA
In addition to looking for the right characteristics, you should also apply these 3 tips when choosing a power of attorney.
1. Talk to the individual about it.
Of course, the individual has to be willing before you can grant them power of attorney. Discuss the list of responsibilities and make sure your choice is completely on board.
2. Seek advice from a lawyer.
Your lawyer can probably offer you some good insight on who should act as your POA. Don’t be afraid to seek counsel.
3. Don’t choose the person closest to you, but the person who will do the best job.
Just because you’ve been best friends with someone for the last 20 years doesn’t mean they’re right for the job. Remember to evaluate the person’s qualifications as a whole, not just their relationship with you.
How Can the U.S. Will Registry Help?
The U.S. Will Registry was founded in 1997 to fill an important gap. Too often people think loved ones will remember who you told them your attorney is, or where you stored your will in your home. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Studies show that 67% of wills are never found when needed. Seniors often move to new facilities, re-write their will (With a new attorney), and move their paperwork. That is why it is essential to register the location of your will in an online registry.
The location of your registered will or other end-of-life documents is stored in a database for later access. The U.S. Will Registry provides families and beneficiaries with a means to find lost wills and estate planning documents of those who have passed away. You can register the location of your Will or other documents for a nominal lifetime fee, making it easier for family members to handle your affairs.