Who Should I Select as My Power of Attorney?
Power of attorney is an important, foundational estate planning tool. It is a written document that you can use to give a trusted person legal authority to act on your behalf in the event that you are not able to manage your own affairs. This raises an important question: Who should you pick as your power of attorney? The answer depends entirely on your specific circumstances. You need a person who will protect your best interests. Here are four key characteristics you should look for when choosing a power of attorney.
Four Things to Look for in a Power of Attorney
- Trust and Reliability
First and foremost, the most important thing to look for when selecting a power of attorney is a person who can trust. You should consider their values, their history, and their relationship to you. For this reason, most people select a power of attorney who is a close relative. If you are currently married, the obvious starting point is your spouse. A parent, sibling, adult child, or close friend may also be a good choice.
- General Competence With Legal and Financial Affairs
Not everyone is well-suited to serve as a power of attorney for another person. It is best to look for someone who has general competence managing legal and financial affairs. This is especially important if you have a more complex estate or a complicated family life. You need someone who can step up to the plate and take control of the situation—no matter what happens.
- Physical Proximity: Someone Reasonably Close
Physical proximity is an overlooked, but important factor. The ideal power of attorney is someone who lives reasonably close to you. For example, if your adult child lives in Northern California, they may struggle as your power of attorney. If possible, it might be better to appoint someone who lives in the Tampa area. While it is not impossible to serve as a power of attorney despite living far apart, it is certainly more challenging.
- Willingness to Take on the Responsibility
Finally, you need to look for someone who is willing to take on the responsibility. Under Florida law, a person does not have a legal obligation to serve as a power of attorney. In other words, if you appoint someone against their will, there is no legal mechanism to make them actually assume that role. Beyond that, a person who does not want the responsibility may simply not do a very good job. They may not be attentive to your needs.
Speak to Our Florida POA Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our Tampa estate planning attorneys have deep experience helping clients set up powers of attorney. We are ready to assist you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that effectively protects your best interests. For more information, please contact us now for a confidential initial consultation. We look forward to hearing from you. We offer estate planning guidance to people throughout Hillsborough County.