A Power of Attorney establishes the legal relationship between the principal and his POA representative, legally referred to as an agent. POA agent has the power to make crucial decisions on behalf of the Principal.
The Principal chooses to make a Power of Attorney (POA) as part of his/her long-term planning. He makes POA for future assurance for handling his financial and medical decisions. Even if the principal becomes incapable, this step is crucial to ensure that his wishes and decisions are performed and implemented with help of POA. However, it’s also crucial that the principal should choose the appropriate person to serve as his agent.
Regardless of the type of power of attorney considered by the principal, selecting a reputable and appropriate representative is of foremost/prime importance. The following highlights your agent’s credentials and provides suggestions on what to consider when appointing an agent for your power of attorney.
Who is an agent?
In a power of attorney, you authorise a specific person (or people) to make decisions for you. This person is called an agent. And in the context of estate planning, this agent often makes these decisions when you are unable to do so, e.g., if you are unable to work or in a coma.
In a Power of Attorney (PoA), the principal gives permission to a person to act on his behalf; that person is legally known as an agent. And when it comes to making decisions about matters related to finance and medicine, this agent frequently decides for his principal when he is unable to do so, such as when the principal is not capable, not in the state (country), or in a coma. The POA agent has the authority to decide on matters both personally and professionally.
What can an agent do?
It wholly depends on the principal and to what extent he can delegate responsibilities to the agent. The principal can grant broad responsibilities with a conventional power of attorney or, especially for specific occasions, with a springing power of attorney.
For example, the principal may want his Power of Attorney (PoA) agent to make only medical decisions, or he may want another POA agent to take care of his finances.
What to look for when choosing the right agent for your power of attorney
POA gives very crucial powers to an agent, so it’s very important for the principal to choose his agent carefully and wisely.
The five factors listed below should be taken into account by the principal when choosing an agent for his power of attorney.
A Reliable or Trustworthy individual
POA agent is in the power of handling the principal’s most crucial and delicate decisions relating to property, health, or finance, so his agent must be someone whom he can trust completely.
An individual who is located/living nearby the Principals house
It can be crucial to choose a representative that is positioned/located quite close to the principal’s location. An agent who is able to get up and running quickly to help the principal is helpful. This is important if the principal wants his agent to manage day-to-day operations or responsibilities.
An individual who is well-organized and logical
POA agents will likely to add his duties to established work and family-related responsibilities. He have to organize himself so as not to be overwhelmed. Precisely because of the emotions associated with the principal’s disability, POA agents need to be reasonable/logical. Many of decisions made by POA agents will be challenging and will affect the people you love. POA agents must possess the ability to remain rational and logical under pressure or stressful circumstances.
An Individual who shares the Principal desires and values.
Although the principal has explained his general desires in the power of attorney, the Power of Attorney (PoA) agent should be someone who knows the principal’s desires and values in detail. If the principal wants to avoid the risk of investment or finance-related matters, then he should avoid an agent who can gamble away his money. The principal should have a detailed conversation with the potential agent about the exact plans and the extent of the powers and responsibilities given to the POA agent.
An individual who wants to be a POA agent by will
The principal should never choose someone to represent him as his POA agent against his will or wish because the Power of Attorney (PoA) agent will need to make crucial decisions and handle responsibilities related to finance, property, and/or health-related matters, which can be overwhelming for some people or for those who may not be well equipped or have sufficient time to fulfil their desires.
What questions should be considered/asked by the principal when choosing a POA agent?
It is very crucial to choose the right POA agent as they have the legal authority to act on behalf of the Principal. Following questions can be asked while considering a potential POA agent:
- Can you trust this person with handling crucial matters related to finance and legal?
- Is this person financially responsible? How he manages his own legal and finance-related matters?
- Family members typically offer this service without charging, but in case of appointing agent, he will charge fee; How much fee he will charge?
- Will this person agree to act as a POA agent? A principal should discuss with them in detail about his decisions before formally appointing them.
In case the principal is in doubt ever as to agent’s trustworthiness or conflict of interest arises, Principal should use Revocation of power of attorney to withdraw agent’s power to act on behalf of him.
By appointing a power of attorney Principal ensures that he has an individual legally known as a POA agent for managing his long-term planning relating to property, finances, and health. Appointing a POA agent is his future assurance for decisions relating to personal as well as finance-related affairs. Taking decisions related to finance, health, and property is very delicate and crucial, so while appointing an agent for POA, the principal should make sure that the agent is trustworthy, well-organised, logical and that he wants to be a POA agent by his own will, as being a POA agent requires handling various responsibilities that can be overwhelming for some people.
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