Pick a power of attorney carefully

When an employer hires someone, efforts are made to pick the right person for the job. A power of attorney selection process can be similar. An individual will want to make sure that the chosen person has the skills and emotional maturity to handle important decisions for the person granting the power should the maker become incapacitated. In California, there are two types of power of attorney, medical and durable, and each has a specific duty.

Some experts believe that a good basic guideline for determining whether a person is appropriate to be given POA is the “checkbook across the table” test. Would the person being selected be a trusted individual with the checkbook? Could that person be counted on to responsibly pay bills and handle the financial affairs? If the person can pass the checkbook test, then the role may be an appropriate one for that person.

Experts also caution against choosing someone simply because the individual is the oldest child, or picking someone to avoid conflict. Since the duties associated with the job are quite serious, the decision about whom to appoint is equally serious. Some recommend sitting down and discussing the selection as a family. Some people are better suited for medical decision making, and others may be better suited to handle money matters. Another thing one may wish to consider is choosing a backup.

The power of attorney will be handling sensitive and important decisions. Choosing the right POA may take some extra consideration, but in the event of a sudden illness, that person will be ready to step in and help right away instead of having to apply for guardianship. In California, many people choose to work with their attorney to draft power of attorney documents as part of a comprehensive estate plan.

Source: dailylocal.com, “Colliton: 6 tips to avoid Power of Attorney abuse”, Janet M. Colliton, Oct. 2, 2017

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