So, you’re ready to create a Power of Attorney (POA), but you aren’t sure who to select as an agent or how to approach them. In this article, we break down the aspects to look for when choosing an agent to be your substitute decision-maker and how to begin the conversation with that person.
When selecting an agent to make decisions on your behalf, you want to ensure that:
- You trust them: Fundamentally, if this person has the potential to make decisions on your behalf, you want to ensure that you trust their loyalty to you and the values you hold. Making decisions regarding personal care or property requires this person to be familiar with your previous decision-making strategies to ensure they do what you would want them to.
- They are responsible: Often, we may love someone and trust them, but frankly, they aren’t reliable. Being an agent/POA requires someone to be extremely responsible as they will be required to make decisions on your behalf. Selecting a responsible person means this person will make the decisions that are in your best interest and decisions you would make if your capacity were there.
- They want to do it: Being an agent/POA is an emotionally large undertaking. Ensuring that the person you appoint is interested in doing that work, should the need arise, is crucial.
Once you have thought carefully and deeply about the people in your life that would make a good fit as your agent/POA, it’s now time to begin that conversation. It’s crucial to have this discussion early, both for those who may need care and for those who may have to act on someone else’s behalf. The challenging part is knowing how and when to have the “talk”. For any serious conversation, it’s always best to:
- Set the scene and focus your efforts solely on the topic at hand. All too often, you might just want to ask at a dinner or in the middle of a conversation, but this can take someone off-guard and not allow them to think clearly about the role and its significance. Set aside some time to meet with the person to talk only about your life planning.
- Emphasize your reasoning as to why they were selected. If this person has never acted as an agent/POA, they may not be familiar with the role or why they would be a good fit.
- If they are interested in the role, thank them for their willingness and interest in supporting you and your life. Being an agent/POA is an intimate but rewarding experience as the agents help support the people they care about most.
- Work with your agent to craft a plan outlining your decision-making process to help them make decisions on your behalf should the need arise. Making decisions regarding personal care or property is never easy. Supplying your agent with a framework surrounding how you would typically make decisions will better support them in their role.
Once you’ve created a POA for personal care and property, it’s always a good idea to regularly review the agent you have selected and their level of preparedness for the role. If you’re looking to discuss your POA or create a POA, feel free to connect with us.