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How do I choose a power of attorney?

James Watkins - Law on the Web

  1. 04 June 2015
  2. Wills and Probate
  3. 0 comments
Man talking to woman in wheelchair

Power of attorney is not something that should be granted lightly. By granting power of attorney to another individual (known as an “agent”), you are giving them the legal power to make important decisions about your health and finances, if you are unable to make those decisions in the future.

Before you grant power of attorney, you will need to make sure you pick the right people to be your agents.

Choosing an agent

You are not limited to naming one agent – in fact, it is wise to name at least two, in case an agent passes away or is otherwise unable to fulfil their duties.

You can also name different agents to take over specific decisions – one person could take care of financial matters, and another could make decisions about your health, and so on.

Here are a few questions you should consider before naming someone as your agent.

Do you trust them?

Trust is important, of course, and you need to know that whoever is handling your affairs has your best interests at heart. Make sure you only grant Power of Attorney to someone is reliable and has the perspective to put your needs ahead of their own in relation to this.

Are they capable?

You will need to consider whether your potential agents are up to the task – a good way to do this is to think about how they deal with their own personal business. For example, if a family member is not particularly good at handling their own money, they might not be the best person to manage your finances.

Do they want to do it?

This is important, as unless you are hiring someone, you will be granting Power of Attorney to someone who won’t be paid for what they do. Also, they may be unable or unwilling to take on the pressure of making decisions about your health and finances. You should discuss it with them beforehand, and make sure that they know what they are taking on.

Of course, if you are hiring someone to act as an agent for you, these questions should be moot.

Family member or professional?

It’s common to name a close friend or a family member as an agent, but you could also name a professional to oversee some or all of your affairs – for example, you could name an accountant to manage your finances.

The advantage of this is obviously that you can expect a more professional service – they will be probably be able to devote more time to it, and there is less chance of them making mistakes.

Of course, the downside is that they will need to be paid – it’s unlikely that a trusted family member will want you to pay them. Ultimately, you will need to consider how much hiring a professional will cost and whether you will afford it, as well as how much you trust another family member to make your decisions.

You could hire a professional to handle part of your affairs that your other agents might not be suited to – for example, if you have a family member acting as an agent, you could hire an accountant to deal with your finances if you family member is not comfortable dealing with them.

More information of Power of Attorney

You can find more advice in our Power of Attorney section, including advice on different types and how to revoke one.

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