Even just thinking about appointing a power of attorney (POA) who will eventually have legal authority over your finances can be daunting. But life circumstances change. When it comes to the future wellbeing of your finances, that have often been the result of a lifetime of hard work and responsible management, thinking ahead about a POA is just the next step to ensure your peace of mind.
Here are some of the issues and questions that you should consider when making this very important decision.
What power or control does a POA have?
Essentially, a POA is granted the legal authority to look after your finances on your behalf.
When would I need a POA?
There are a number of circumstances under which you might consider appointing a POA.
Many people, at some point, will be confronted with the likelihood that eventually they will no longer have the mental capacity to adequately manage their own finances. Most likely this will be at a time when age becomes a factor and you potentially lose your independence.
However there are other circumstances too where you might consider a POA. As a personal preference, some people do not want the responsibility of managing their own finances and prefer to appoint a professional. Alternatively, you might be heading away on an extended overseas trip. It may be advantageous to appoint someone to make legally binding decisions on your behalf while away.
How do I pick a POA?
It is also worth considering some of the personal qualities required in such a trusted position. Whilst your POA does not need a legal background the following traits will give you a high level of confidence when your finances are in their hands.
Trustworthiness: Above all other qualities your POA possesses, trustworthiness is the most important. You need to have faith in their ability to serve you and your best interests at all times.
Neutral: You need to be confident they will consider your best interests, not those of anyone else. Your POA, who could well be a relative, must be able to remain neutral and keep their interests out of the equation.
Understanding: Particularly if you are elderly or infirmed, your POA should have a sound understanding of your wishes in regards to their treatment, as well as likely outcomes of specific surgeries and treatment options.
Assertive: You need to be confident that your POA will look after your best interests particularly if they might meet resistance from disgruntled immediate or distant family members.
I know someone who needs to appoint a POA. What do I do?
Maybe someone you know should be considering the appointment of a POA. This might be a spouse, parents or another family member. Please think about contacting us to see what options are available and how you can help them with a very important decision.