As you grow older, you may suffer declining health. In time, you might not be able to make decisions regarding your finances or your health care. This is where designating someone to be your power of attorney may make a difference. You could avoid a conservatorship by having someone act on your behalf when you suffer incapacitation.
Choosing your power of attorney might not be an easy decision to make. Generally, anyone can be a power of attorney, also called an agent, provided that he or she is not a minor and not incapacitated. There are some factors to consider when deciding who should take over your financial decision-making in the future.
Choosing a family member
It is natural to think about naming one of your children or a spouse to be your power of attorney. You probably have full confidence that your family member will act in your best interests. However, U.S. News and World Reports caution that you should be certain that your relative has the competence to handle your affairs or that your relative will seek the necessary help to make decisions.
Choosing multiple individuals
You may have concerns about handing over power to a single person even if you designate a trustworthy family member. Some people decide to name multiple agents. If you do so, you should figure out how your co-agents can act. Some people split up power among multiple agents while others require their agents to make decisions unanimously.
Choosing successor agents
You also want your power of attorney to be available when you need him or her. If you live a long time before suffering incapacitation, this might not be possible. Your agent might have moved away, become incapacitated, or died. This could leave you at the mercy of the court if you have not designated a successor agent.
To make sure you have a power of attorney ready when the time arrives, consider designating one or more individuals to be your successor agents. Preferably, your successor choices should be younger than you, making it likely that will be around when you need them.