How to choose a power of attorney? Have encountered a legal situation, which is the reason why you are here. Do not worry, we are here to guide you all about power of attorney. A power of attorney (POA) is more like a legal document that gives permission to an individual to make important decisions on your behalf. Particularly, in those circumstances where you are not present, or when you are unable to take those decisions yourself.
The selection of a power of attorney is a crucial thing, which should be thought over in advance with due care. No one should be granted your power of attorney without due consideration. Choosing a power of attorney is an important step in the process of planning one’s estate and preparation for the forthcoming future.
Consider how it would happen that you can not decide about things anymore because of an accident, disease, or something else. Your attorney in fact takes over to take decisions about your medical treatment, handle your finances and safeguard your general welfare where you cannot due to illness or disability. It’s a position that needs trust, responsibility and an in-depth knowledge of who you are.
The selection of the proper person who will act as your agent is one such decision that requires you to think critically. This guide will take you step by step through some pointers which should influence your decision on selecting one or more of these products. At the end of this guide you will know about powers of attorney, how to choose a power of attorney, and what measures are needed so that they understand your intentions at the right time.
A power of attorney is more than your legal representative, they will act as your medical guardian and advocate for your health rights. They have been charged with your deepest wishes, and expected to exercise judgment consistent with what is important to you. let’s move towards exploring the complex aspects of appointing a lawyer as your agent for making decisions about your wellbeing in the future and to ensure you are at ease.
What is the Power of Attorney?
Power of attorney is a legal document, you appoint someone to act on your behalf in terms of your legal, financial and other important matters. You can choose anyone to be your power of attorney. It could be your family member, friend, or any other trustworthy individual who can act on your behalf. However, you must trust that individual with all your affairs.
If you have given power of attorney to someone, it can be effective immediately or maybe in future when you are unable to manage your affairs. Not to mention, power of attorney also gives the assignee rights and authority to make decisions that are connected with your health, property and other legal affairs.
What are the different types of Power of Attorney?
Before you choose a power of attorney, it’s important to understand the different types of power of attorneys.
General Power of Attorney: This gives powers to the stated officer for he or she should act as if you are there, by taking financial and legal moves towards your well-being.
Limited Power of Attorney: The powers granted are only limited to specified periods or tasks so that it is applicable in cases of either general circumstances or unique ones on a temporal basis.
Durable Power of Attorney: Even if you happen not to be able to act, it will still remain applicable and assist in administering your matters.
Medical Power of Attorney: This is also referred to as a living will wherein the assigned person will be tasked to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so yourself.
Springing Power of Attorney: An action is undertaken only after a certain triggering event, for instance, lack of ability occurs.
How to Choose a Power of Attorney?
Selecting the best individual to serve as a power of attorney is therefore of utmost importance. Here are some factors to consider:
- Trust and Reliability: Choose an individual that you can trust completely and who cares about their wellbeing for you.
- Legal Competence: The person you pick should be mentally stable enough to comprehend such complicated decisions as well as legally qualified.
- Understanding of Your Wishes: Make sure that the person you select as your power of attorney is aware of your values, beliefs, and desires regarding property management.
- Availability: Determine if a person can commit to their jobs depending on the timeline they have for work.
- Financial Competency: You should consider an individual who is financially competent and accountable for finances when it comes to financial power of attorney.
1. Have Open and Honest Discussions
You should talk openly about it with the person you choose as your POA. Clearly state your expectations, values, and preferences in issues related to medical decisions, finances, and law. Clarify their duties and ensure they accept such a position.
2. Consider Naming Alternates
It is advisable that you name one or more alternate power of attorneys in case your primary power of attorney is unable or refuses to act on behalf of you. In the event of a security threat, these persons may be called upon for assistance on top.
3. Seek Legal Guidance
Speak to an established estate planning and lawyer, someone who is professional and knows their work well. They will explain to you what is required by law, write your documents in the right way and give you good suggestions.
4. Review and Update Regularly
As life changes situations, power of attorney documents should be reviewed and updated frequently. Make sure that your chosen agent of service can still serve in such a capacity of office willingly and well.
5. Execute the Documents Properly
Carefully select what you want from a chosen power of attorney and then collaborate with an attorney in getting them right. Be sure to observe applicable requirements regarding specific forms of execution in different jurisdictions.
6. Keep Important Documents Safe
Ensure that you safely store the copies for your power of attorney documents, while at the same time informing your chosen representative on where they can be obtained at whenever the need arises. Make several photocopies for your lawyer, banking institutions, and health facilities.
7. Maintain Privacy and Security
Always protect your personal and financial information from your POA because this prevents them from misusing the trust in their disposal. If need be, have a third party, either a bank or an attorney monitor what they do on your behalf.
Who should you pick as your power of attorney?
Choosing a power of attorney involves careful consideration. Here are some key factors to help you decide:
- Trustworthiness: This is important. Your power of attorney should be someone you trust implicitly with your financial, legal, and healthcare decisions.
- Availability: The person should be willing and able to take on the responsibilities of a power of attorney. Consider their availability especially if they may need to act quickly on your behalf.
- Understanding of Your Wishes: Your power of attorney should have a clear understanding of your values, preferences, and how you would like certain matters handled. Effective communication is key.
- Financial Responsibility: If your power of attorney will be handling financial matters, ensure they are financially responsible and have a good understanding of managing money.
- Legal and Healthcare Knowledge: Depending on the scope of the power of attorney, it might be beneficial if the person has some legal or healthcare knowledge. However, this is not mandatory, as they can always seek professional advice when needed.
- Compatibility: Your power of attorney doesn’t necessarily have to be a family member. It could be a close friend or even a legal professional. Choose someone you feel comfortable communicating with openly.
- Backup Options: Consider appointing a secondary or backup power of attorney in case the primary person is unable or unwilling to act when the time comes.
- Documentation: Once you’ve made a decision, make it official. Consult with a legal professional to create the necessary documents, ensuring that everything is in accordance with your local laws.
Remember, it’s a significant responsibility, so take your time in making this decision. Have you thought about someone specific, or are you still in the process of deciding? Read and think about how to choose a power of attorney
Choosing a power of attorney is a task that requires serious thinking. It is a crucial component of your full estate plan and executor services and will assist with administering your estate when needed the most. If properly followed as per legal advice, you will be able to ensure that your wishes are duly respected in the future. You can consult with a different organization which provides assistance on power of attorney in Ontario.
Meet Doug, a seasoned financial planner with over 35 years of experience in providing trusted advice and planning for retirement, estates, income tax, and investments. As a Chartered Accountant (CPA CA), Certified Estate Advisor (CEA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), and Elder Planning Counsellor (EPC), Doug has the expertise and knowledge to guide and support executors through the estate processing journey.