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What qualities should a power of attorney have?

A power of attorney (POA) is someone you appoint to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so. Since your power of attorney potentially will be handling your legal and financial affairs, you’ll want to choose someone who either has some experience in these fields or has the necessary qualities to handle the decisions that may fall to him or her.

A power of attorney should be a person with the following characteristics:
  • Attention to detail
  • An understanding of his or her duties, and a commitment to taking those duties seriously
  • An understanding of finances and perhaps business
  • The ability to collaborate with attorneys, accountants and other parties, if necessary
In addition, a power of attorney should be someone you trust, who you believe understands your values and will act in your best financial and legal interest.
A designated power-of-attorney agent can do tremendous good -- or serious harm. The legal authority to act on another’s behalf is a significant responsibility that can be abused and mismanaged with potential disastrous consequences for the care recipient's estate or physical and mental well-being. If possible, have your loved one consult with an attorney before deciding on an agent.

Below are the key qualities of an appropriate agent:
  • someone whom the care recipient and other family members thoroughly trust
  • someone who lives near the care recipient and can be available to meet with lawyers, professionals, doctors, bankers, accountants, financial planners and others

Be sure to assign a backup power of attorney in case the first choice is unable to fulfill his or her duties.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.