Just like picking the right executor for your will, having the right person as your agent under a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is also critical. Remember, you are trusting this person to be you and do what the DPOA says they can do as you. You should consider the following in making the decision:

Responsibilities. Your agent is required to act in your best interests with strict standards of honesty and loyalty, as well as ensure that your property is safe and kept separate from his or her property. Part of this includes keeping detailed and organized records of all the financial transactions made on your behalf.

Trustworthiness. Simply put, your agent must be trustworthy. You must realize that you will be giving your agent access to your accounts, and there is a risk that they may abuse his or her powers by spending your money or selling your property contrary to your wishes. This is why I give what I call my “rob you blind” speech to my clients. Most people select a family member, close friend, or a professional with a reputation for honesty.

Location and Willingness to Serve. It will be easier for your agent to assist you if he or she is local, particularly if real estate management is required. Of course, you should discuss the job and your expectations with your proposed agent before executing your DPOA to ensure that they will accept the appointment and has the information necessary to carry out his or her duties.

Cooperation with Your Agent for Medical Decisions. Finally, you should give careful consideration as to whether your proposed agent can work with the person you designate to make your health care decisions if you plan to name different people to these roles. They will need to coordinate so that your medical bills are paid.

The person you choose should meet all of these requirements and be someone you trust implicitly.

So What Should I Do?

I recommend that everyone have an estate plan that includes a Durable Power of Attorney. If you want more information about them, what documents are included, and things you need to think about to prepare them, then I recommend that you download my free book, A Guide to Creating Your Estate Plan. It will get you a long way towards achieving that goal.

But if you live in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, or Cumberland counties, have decided that you need to put together an estate plan, and are ready to move forward to create one, then just click here to schedule a free, no obligation phone call to discuss it.

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Steven J. Richardson
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Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.