If you become incapacitated or unable to handle medical or financial decisions on your own, you may consider choosing a loved one to make those crucial decisions for you with a power of attorney. A power of attorney document gives an appointed individual the responsibility of handling another’s financial, legal and medical affairs. Here, the estate planning and elder law attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein discusses the process of choosing the right agent to give these responsibilities to and the freedoms and limitations that individual has in regards to decision-making on your behalf.
Characteristics To Consider in an Agent
When it comes to appointing an individual as an agent to manage your important medical or financial decisions, you want to ensure that the individual has your best interests at heart. It is highly advisable you appoint a close friend or family member whom you trust to make decisions with your livelihood in mind. Choosing someone who also has the ability to be assertive when necessary is a good characteristic to look for when choosing an agent, as it is crucial your agent fight for you and advocate for your health and wellbeing. They will be making decisions that impact both you and your loved ones, and should have the drive to speak up when others are not working with your best interest at heart.
In addition, your agent should also be competent and confident in their ability to carry out their duties as needed and be able to handle sudden changes that occur in your life. Finally, it is a benefit if your agent has some knowledge of finances or the legal system, seeing as they will likely be working with attorneys and financial planners during this time. Overall, an agent should be someone who you believe is working in your best interest and has the knowledge, skill and time management it takes to effectively balance their daily life and responsibilities as attorney-in-fact.
Responsibilities of an Agent
There are different types of power of attorneys that an individual can choose to draft, including general, medical, special or durable. General power of attorney covers a general range of affairs for the incapacitated individual. The agent has the ability to handle personal and business finances, as well as an array of other responsibilities the donor delegates to them. In a medical power of attorney, the donor can delegate authority to the agent to make healthcare-related decisions. Special power of attorney limits the responsibilities an individual has, and essentially sets out a list of specified guidelines for the agent. For example, you can allow for your agent to make decisions about your personal finances, but may limit them from handling the finances of your business.
Limitations and Risks Associated with an Agent
The agent designated to have rights and responsibilities under a power of attorney must follow the instructions exactly as the donor requests in their power of attorney and, if neglected, that individual can be held liable for fraud or negligence. In addition, the agent cannot hand over responsibilities to another individual, unless specifically designated in the power of attorney. Finally, it is important to spend time thinking about the best person to handle these responsibilities, seeing as it comes with risk. While the hope is that an agent will carry out the wishes of the donor to the best of their ability, there is no guarantee that they will not make financial or medical mistakes that may ultimately bring frustration or harm to the donor. Therefore, consult with a legal professional such as attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein to ensure that there are no gaps in your power of attorney.
Speak To Maryland Attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein To Learn More
Estate planning can be overwhelming and confusing, and preparing a plan in case of an unexpected emergency can alleviate the burden of worry. At the Law Offices of Douglas C. Lauenstein, qualified attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein works to create a comprehensive and individualized plan for you or your loved one and ensure that your power of attorney document is properly carried out. For more information on power of attorney and other estate planning documents, contact attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein today.