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Appointing a Power of Attorney

by Jeffrey Asher, Estate Planning Expert
August 13, 2015

Question: Whom should I appoint as my agent for my Power of Attorney?

Answer: The agent under your Power of Attorney is a Very Important Person.  His/her job is to make your financial decisions in the event you are unable to make your own financial decisions because of an incapacity or otherwise.  Your agent may be the person who has to pay your bills in the event of your absence or your incapacity, make financial decisions and/or transactions, sell property, if it is in your best interest, and/or perform estate planning or elder law planning, if necessary.  Your agent under your Power of Attorney should be (a) someone you trust to make your financial decisions, (b) someone who will work with and treat your family with honesty, respect, compassion, and financial reasonableness, assuming he/she will act for you in connection with bills to pay, gifts, investments, etc., (c) someone who is financially smart or, at least, able to identify the need to be financially smart and will use smart financial advisors, and (d) someone who will work well with others, if you choose to appoint more than one agent under your Power of Attorney.
When choosing an agent under your Power of Attorney, do not be limited by geographic location, age, or relationship.  An agent can be anyone, of any age, anywhere.  With today’s technology, many financial decisions/transactions can be performed via email, telephone, fax, or by the mail/overnight delivery, so where a person lives has little to do with whether or not he/she can do a good job.  And, age should never be a factor in ruling someone out as a possible agent.  The question is whether that person can do the job.  But, if you are concerned about the age of the potential agent (assuming the person is older), then make sure you appoint successor(s) to act if necessary.
No matter whom you appoint, in addition to the appointment of your agent under your Power of Attorney, you should consider naming additional agents (as successor(s)) in the event the initial agent is unable or unwilling to do the job.

Jeffrey Asher is a prominent Trusts & Estates and Elder Law attorney in Westchester County and New York City. Mr. Asher concentrates primarily in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate and Estate Administration, Elder Law, Medicaid Planning, and Special Needs Planning. Mr. Asher provides comprehensive legal services, tailored to meet your specific needs.

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