Why you should have a durable power of attorney
Carissa Giebel 7:33 p.m. CDT September 29, 2014
Giving someone the durable power of attorney gives them the authority to make your financial and other important non-medical decisions in case you would ever be in a position where you could not make them for yourself.
Choosing who to name should be a well-thought-out decision. It’s important to name someone you trust, who would make wise decisions on your behalf.
When choosing an agent, make sure it’s someone who will understand your financial and investment priorities and honor your wishes. I suggest having discussions with the person you name as agent so they are aware of what your priorities and wishes are. Then, if the situation arises where the agent needs to act for you, they know how to accomplish your goals.
Although it’s not necessary for your agent to live near you, if you have multiple people to choose from that would equally act wisely, it may be best to choose the person who lives closest, as it can be easier for them to act on your behalf and access your accounts, especially if you bank locally. Refrain from naming someone who does not make sound financial decisions and is unorganized.
Before naming someone as an agent, you may want to ask if they would be willing to take on that role. If so, then share your wishes with them. If not, then omit them and go ahead and name someone else.
I suggest only naming one person as an agent at a time. Naming two agents to act simultaneously can open the door for potential conflict, especially without thorough communication between the two agents.
It is a good idea to name at least one successor agent in case your initial agent is unable or unwilling to act when the time comes. After completing your durable power of attorney, I suggest giving a copy to the person you named as initial agent and successor agent.
If you sign a new durable power of attorney, make sure to destroy copies of your old form and inform everyone who may have the old copies that the old copy has been revoked.
Everyone age 18 and over should have a durable power of attorney in place. If something would happen and you would be unable to manage your finances, and you do not have a durable power of attorney, your family would have to go through a guardianship proceeding in court, where the court would appoint an agent to act. This can cost thousands of dollars and be a stressful, time consuming process.
If you don’t have a durable power of attorney in place, I suggest doing so soon. Ask your parents and loved ones to make sure they have them too.