Your Attorney in Fact

Who you should nominate in your durable power of attorney

When people think of a power of attorney, it is most likely a durable power of attorney for financial purposes. This is a document that allows the person you name, also known as your attorney in fact, to take over specific financial and contractual obligations for you if you should happen to become incapacitated. While nobody wants to contemplate needing someone to take over in the case of an emergency, the choice of an attorney in fact is a very important one and several characteristics should be taken into consideration.

Attorney in Fact Characteristics…

1) Your attorney in fact should be financially savvy and capable of processing paperwork. There is a good chance that your attorney in fact will need to access your bank account and possibly other financial accounts to manage your day to day affairs while you’re incapacitated. There is also a chance that your attorney in fact will need to sign contracts on your behalf.

2) Your attorney in fact should probably be geographically close to you. While it is possible for your attorney in fact to assist you in your time of need from another state or country, the closer your attorney in fact, the easier it will be to manage your day to day affairs and sign any necessary contracts or agreements.

3) Your attorney in fact needs to be very trustworthy. This is, in my opinion, the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing who to nominate as your attorney in fact. During your incapacitation, this individual will be able to access your financial accounts and records. I have heard too many horror stories from people who became incapacitated and had a son or daughter take all of their funds for personal use right before the parent passed away. When that happens, it becomes virtually impossible to make sure that your wishes are carried out after your death, even if you have a comprehensive estate plan. My advice is to NOT nominate someone to be your attorney in fact if you feel that he or she could take your assets to the detriment of you or other family members.

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