How Do You Choose the Right Person for Your Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a document that authorizes someone to represent and act on your behalf should you not be in a position to do it. The person you name to act on your behalf is known as the “agent.”  Your agent may need to sign contracts, handle investments, sell property, write checks, and even take care of your pets. You can narrow down the specific tasks you would want the agent to handle, but it is more common to give the agent very broad authority to act on your behalf so they can do anything that may be necessary.

According to Elder Law Attorney, Karen Jo Bennett of Wenzel Bennett & Harris, P.C. in Alpena, Michigan one of the most important legal documents you need is a Power of Attorney. It may avoid the need for a guardian or conservator if you become incapacitated. It is also a vital tool to protect your assets, especially if you should need long-term health care.

The specific authority you give your agent is entirely dependent on the content of the document. You generally want to give your agent a great deal of discretion to take many actions, which may include the power to make gifts, create trusts, transfer real estate and apply for government benefits, such as Medicaid. The document should be prepared by an attorney who is knowledgeable about estate planning and planning for long-term health care needs. The law firm of Wenzel Bennett & Harris is highly experienced in estate planning, asset protection and Medicaid planning. They will work with you to prepare a Power of Attorney that will best meet your specific needs.


Selection of Your Agent

Because the Power of Attorney is such a powerful document, the selection of the agent to act on your behalf is very important. The agent you select might be a family member, friend or professional advisor.  Your primary concern will be choosing an agent whom you trust to honor your wishes and act in your best interest. Your agent should also be able to understand your affairs and make good decisions regarding your property and finances. You want someone who is willing to seek professional guidance in areas that may affect your taxes, estate planning or long-term health care planning.

It is also helpful to select a person who is trusted by other family members, to avoid unnecessary friction.  Your agent should understand that, while it is an honor to be named as an agent under a Power of Attorney, it is also a commitment and responsibility which cannot be taken lightly. The agent will be required sign a document indicating that he or she understands and accepts this responsibility.

Selecting the right person for the job can be a daunting task. Giving someone the power to manage your property and finances can be difficult. If you are considering someone for your power of attorney but aren’t sure it’s the right decision, it is helpful to discuss this with your lawyer. Wenzel Bennett & Harris. P.C. is a law firm focused on helping clients with asset protection and estate planning. They will help you evaluate your choices so that you can feel confident with the agent you select