What Should You Look for Before Choosing a Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney allows someone to make decisions on your behalf. There are a lot of important facts to consider before choosing a Power of Attorney.
Power of Attorney is a legal document. It is used to define a person you have given the right to make decisions in your absence. Power of Attorney is a wide-ranging concept. It is most often used by people with disabilities or terminal illnesses.
The person with the Power of Attorney is commonly known as the attorney-in-fact. Sometimes they are called an agent. Primarily, there are two kinds of Power of Attorney, general and limited. There are other classifications based on financial, legal, and other factors – more on that below:
Types of Power of Attorney
In addition to the main two types (general and limited), there are a few others as well. They are:
- Real Estate
While the general Power of Attorney encompasses all your affairs, the limited category is specified to your needs. You might want someone only to take care of your financial matters. hey will not have any precedence over medical, legal, or other issues.
A durable Power of Attorney can exercise your will even after your death. Choose according to your needs.
How To Get A Power of Attorney
Having someone make crucial decisions on your behalf seems intimidating, and rightfully so. The attorney-in-fact will have complete control over what is specified in the binding document. The first question you will have to tackle is how to get a Power of Attorney.
The first step is to acquire a form for both parties to sign. This form is a binding contract that must be presented when executing any legal action. After completing the paperwork, the next step is to notarize the form. The notarization signifies the legality of the document.
You should make multiple copies of the document and keep the original one safe with yourself. Keep copies in several locations, so you never lose them. It is important to remember that the attorney-in-fact cannot act without a signed copy of the original document.
It is not necessary to hire a lawyer before getting a Power of Attorney. However, since the attorney-in-fact will have a lot of control over your issues, you strongly recommend hiring someone. The lawyer will look through the terms and conditions of the Power of Attorney and advise you to make any changes if necessary. Such lawyers are known as estate planning attorneys.
Who Should be Your Attorney-in-Fact?
The importance of choosing the right person as attorney-in-fact cannot be understated. There are several factors to consider before choosing someone. Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. A Person Who Resides Nearby
Ideally, your attorney-in-fact should live close to you. If you have a healthcare proxy, that person might need to go to your medical facility quickly.
Some financial matters are time-sensitive. So it is always a good idea to choose someone who lives close by.
2. A Person Who You Can Trust
Trust is the biggest factor when it comes to Power of Attorney. The stronger the relationship you have with that person, the better.
You are trusting this person with the most important decisions in your life. Needless to say, the attorney-in-fact needs to be trustworthy.
3. A Person Who is Assertive
Taking important decisions on someone else’s behalf is no small feat. Indecision has no place in situations where life and death are potentially a factor. Having an attorney who stands firm and does not second guess himself is vital.
4. A Person Who Understands Medical and Legal Processes
Your attorney-in-fact needs to be knowledgeable about the matters at hand.
Ideally, you would want someone who understands the due process and can execute your wishes accordingly. This will help in making intelligent decisions about your issues.
5. A Person Who Has Your Best Interests at Heart
Your attorney-in-fact has to be in your corner. Think of the weight of the decision that falls on the shoulder of that person.
You do not want someone who you barely know making those kinds of decisions. A close family member is often the best candidate for getting Power of Attorney.
6. A Person Who Can Communicate Effectively
Attorneys-in-fact need to communicate your wishes effectively. A lot of your issues will get resolved in court or a hospital which can be stressful environments.
The ability to keep calm in those situations is priceless. One wrong sentence can quite literally change the outcome of your issues. Needless to say, you want an articulate person.
Taking Away Power of Attorney
It is not uncommon to make mistakes regarding Power of Attorney. Sometimes it is the wrong person, and other times, the current attorney-in-fact might not be competent enough. Whatever may be the case, you have the power to rescind the Power of Attorney at any time
The process of revoking the Power of Attorney is similar to getting it. You have to get the required revocation form, sign and notarize it. After that, the form must be filed properly. The revoked agent must also receive a copy.
All original documents from your first Power of Attorney must be shredded. Relevant third parties need to be notified as soon as possible. If you wish to get a new Power of Attorney, all the previously mentioned steps apply in the same order.
How Much Will it Cost?
If you do not have a family member who is your attorney-in-fact, you must hire a professional relevant to your concerned affairs. Typically, it costs around $300 to hire someone as an attorney-in-fact. Rates can be different depending on the quality of the person you hire.
It is possible to get Power of Attorney online. They are cheaper but be wary. You will not get professional counsel regarding your affairs. On top of that, there is no quality assurance. Many people have also fallen prey to scams with online Power of Attorney frauds.
Giving Power of Attorney to someone is a significant decision. You should be fully informed of all relevant matters before deciding to get one.