Who Should You Choose As Your Power of Attorney?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Estate Planning on Monday August 31, 2020

Appointing a power of attorney can be an uncomfortable and terrifying prospect. Choosing the wrong person or people can throw the incapacitated parties, their families, and their estate into disarray. However, the alternate – leaving everything to chance after the incapacitated party’s death – could cause even more problems.

There are multiple factors to consider when deciding on whom to grant powers of attorney.

Types of Power of Attorney

There are two types of power of attorney:

  • Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney has control over the signer’s financial, legal, and business holdings from the moment that the signer finalizes the documents to the moment that the signer revokes the power.
  • Contingent Power of Attorney: A contingent power of attorney has control over the signer’s financial, legal, and business holdings from the moment that the signer is incapacitated to the moment that the signer is no longer incapacitated.

Note that both types of power of attorney are revoked if/when the signer dies.

Traits to Seek in a Power of Attorney

Selecting the right power of attorney is more complicated than picking the nearest friend or relative. The power of attorney will have to perform multiple duties under stressful circumstances. Powers of attorney should have the following qualities:

  • The power of attorney should get along cordially and respectfully with the signer’s family. Conflicts with the signer’s family can lead to litigation, which would reduce the value of the signer’s states and therefore reduce the chances of the signer’s wishes being met.
  • The power of attorney should be free of external influences that would override the signer’s wishes with their own. A strong-willed spouse, family member, or friend might successfully manipulate the power of attorney to gain the signer’s funds.
  • The power of attorney should advocate for the signer’s wishes without being unyielding. Compromises may be necessary to make peace with the signer’s family, but the signer’s wishes should be the top priority.
  • The power of attorney should not hesitate to put the signer’s best interest above their own. Designating someone as power of attorney grants tremendous influence over the signer’s estate. An unscrupulous power of attorney could take some or all of the signer’s estate. 
  • The power of attorney should not inherit from the signer’s estate upon death. This would create a conflict of interest where the power of attorney has little personal motivation to honor the signer’s wishes.

Let Us Help You Appoint the Right Power of Attorney

Our firm can help you manage your estate and ensure that your requirements are met. Call our offices, and we’ll schedule a consultation with you.

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