Who should you choose for power of attorney?

One of the most important decisions that you can make when it comes to creating an estate plan is choosing a power of attorney. What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a document that allows you, the “principal”, to authorize an individual of your choosing, referred to as an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” to act on your behalf should you become physically or mentally incapacitated. 

If a valid POA is part of your estate plan, your agent can act on your behalf as permitted in the document. Depending on how the document is written, your agent can have limited or extensive authority to make legal decisions on your behalf with respect to property, finances, and/or healthcare. 

Before making the decision on who to choose for power of attorney, keep in mind that your agent could be potentially managing your legal, financial, and/or healthcare decisions, some of which could be life changing. Therefore, choose someone who:

  • Is trustworthy and fair minded
  • Understands your wishes and your values
  • Is willing to serve in the role of POA
  • Understands the duties required of them and is committed to taking them seriously

Another factor to consider when choosing a POA is where that person resides; choose an agent that lives nearby vs. someone from out of state.

For some people, choosing a POA is straightforward: a spouse, child, parent, other family member, or a close friend. For others, the decision can be complicated.

Durable vs non-durable POA options

In general, there are two types of powers of attorney: non-durable and durable. Knowing the difference between these two options is important so that you can create a document that fits your individual needs.

  • A non-durable power of attorney automatically terminates when and if you lose mental capacity or upon your death. Your agent loses their decision-making authority, and a court will then have to appoint a conservator to manage your business and/or personal affairs.
  • With a durable power of attorney, on the other hand, your agent is generally authorized to act on your behalf once that document is signed; the POA stays in effect when and if you should become incapacitated. 

We’ll help you make the right decision

Not sure who to choose as power of attorney or what documents you have in place or questions in general about how it pertains to your situation? Ask our attorneys at California Living Trust; they’ll listen and determine how they may best assist you in providing documents that you may be missing or updating older ones.

And they can set up a durable power of attorney or whichever type best suits your needs if you already have a living trust or if you don’t need a full living trust.