How to Choose Your Power of Attorney in Scottsdale
Appointing someone to serve as your power of attorney (POA) is a major life choice. Unlike naming someone to be the Personal Representative (Executor) of a will, a power of attorney is authorized to act on your behalf while you are still alive. Choosing the right power of attorney is especially important if you should become incapacitated.
Selecting an individual that you trust to serve as your power of attorney is essential, so that your medical, legal, and financial wishes are carried out the way that you would like. You can even assign several people to manage your life affairs depending on their strengths and relationship to you.
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What to Consider When Choosing a Power of Attorney
There are a variety of factors to think about before you select a potential power of attorney. You need someone that you can trust completely, because they will be in control of making decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Here’s how to choose a power of attorney who’s right for you:
- Honesty: Is this someone that you are confident will act ethically to carry out your wishes?
- Decisiveness: Will the potential power of attorney be assertive if disputes arise over the actions that you have authorized them to make?
- Location: Where does the power of attorney live? Selecting someone who lives nearby can make handling your affairs easier, especially in the event of an emergency.
- Knowledge: It’s good if your power of attorney has some familiarity with the area they will be overseeing. For example, a close relative who is a doctor might be a good person to entrust with your medical decisions, whereas you may feel more comfortable with your spouse handling your financial obligations.
- Willingness to serve: You certainly don’t want to designate an agent who doesn’t want the responsibility of serving as a power of attorney. Ask the person whether they feel comfortable serving as your power of attorney and assure them that that there’s no hard feelings if they say no.
Ultimately, you want to select a power of attorney that gives you the reassurance that your life will be in good hands.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to ask one individual to manage all of your decisions. While having too many POAs can complicate matters, choosing well-matched POAs may prevent undue stress from falling upon a single individual if disagreements arise. A skilled Scottsdale estate planning lawyer can advise you on your options when selecting a power of attorney.
What is a Power of Attorney Responsible For?
In Arizona, there are different types of power of attorney designations. It may be more appropriate to ask different people to handle the decision-making based on their own skills and expertise. These people will be called the “agent” or the “attorney in fact,” while you will be referred to as the “principal.”
Different power of attorney designations include:
- Medical: For medical and healthcare decisions.
- Financial: To handle your financial assets, legal issues, pay your bills, and maintain other financial responsibilities on your behalf.
- Durable: A durable power of attorney is a special type of authorization that allows someone to act for you if you become disabled or incapacitated. Your legal documents need to contain words mentioning durability in order to be effective.
- Springing: Only goes into effect after a doctor certifies that you are incapacitated.
- Special: Given to an agent to handle a specific portion of your affairs.
Does a Power of Attorney Have to Be Family?
No, a power of attorney does not have to be a family member. While many people choose a spouse, child, or other trusted relative to serve as their power of attorney, they are under no legal obligation to do so. For example, if you co-own a company, your business partner might be the better choice to handle your business matters if you become incapacitated.
What are the Limitations of a Power of Attorney in Arizona?
Just as you can grant power of attorney responsibilities to an agent, there are also things that they cannot do as a power of attorney. For example, your power of attorney cannot:
- Make his or her own decisions regardless of what your power of attorney says.
- Turn over their duties to someone else. Only you or the courts can appoint an alternate agent.
- Participate in decision-making after your death. Their authority as power of attorney ends when you pass away or by a certain termination period that you designate.
Many Arizona statutes come into play when it comes to the authority granted to a power of attorney. Having an estate planning attorney draft the documents for you while you are still of sound mind is very important. For this reason, the lawyers at Brown & Hobkirk, PPLC strongly recommend that you seek the help of an attorney earlier rather than later in life.
Can I Change My Power of Attorney if Necessary?
You absolutely have the right to revoke a power of attorney, so long as you are mentally competent and of sound mind. You might choose to revoke a power of attorney if you are no longer incapacitated or if you had a falling out with a previously designated agent.
Revocation of a power of attorney must be done in writing and the appointed agent must be notified of the change. All other parties with an interest in the power of attorney (such as doctors, banks, other family members, etc.) should also be notified of the revocation. Lastly, discuss with your attorney about executing a new power of attorney document with an alternate person appointed as an agent.
Contact a Scottsdale Estate Planning Lawyer Today
Don’t wait until it’s too late to plan for the future. Call or contact a knowledgeable Scottsdale estate planning lawyer at Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC today.