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How Do I Establish a Power of Attorney?

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By Anaya Taylor
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How do I establish a power of attorney

Establishing a Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to grant someone the authority to make important decisions for you. It also gives you the peace of mind that your wishes will be followed if you become incapacitated and can’t make them on your own. It can be a complicated process, but it’s worth the effort to have it done properly.

Getting Started With Your POA

Before you decide on who to give power of attorney to, you need to consider what you want to accomplish with your POA. It can be helpful to consult with trusted advisors such as a lawyer or financial planner. It’s also a good idea to sit down with your agent and ask them questions about what they expect from you and how they plan to work together.

Choosing the Right Power of Attorney

The person you choose to be your power of attorney is called an “agent.” You should name one primary and one backup. You can appoint multiple agents in the same POA, but you should specify whether they must act jointly or independently when making decisions on your behalf.

Specifying Durability

In most states, your power of attorney ends if you are no longer mentally competent, but it can be made durable, which makes it last for the rest of your life unless you revoke it. A durable POA can be used for long-term care, for example, if you need help with your medications or your house while you’re in a nursing home.

Putting It In Writing

A POA grant that’s written clearly will be much more reliable than a verbal instruction. The principal (you) can then have a copy of the entire document handy in case any questions arise, and the agent can also see it.

Identifying the Parties

You should also be sure to include all of your agents, along with any other people who may have interests in your affairs. This will help avoid confusion later, and it also prevents them from misunderstanding your wishes or expectations.

Adding More Powers To Your POA

When you create a power of attorney, you should add any additional powers that you feel are necessary for the agent to exercise their authority. Be careful to choose wisely – you don’t want to give someone access to too much information, or your assets or financial interests.

Providing Limits and Exceptions

To minimize the risk of your agent acting against you, you should provide limited powers and a few exceptions to your power of attorney. These limitations will prevent your agent from committing theft or self-dealing, while at the same time allowing them to be more flexible in making their own financial decisions.

Keeping Records of Your Agent’s Activities

Your agent is an important part of your estate, so it’s a good idea to have them keep accurate records of their actions, including what they did and how much money they spent. Additionally, you should request that they give an accounting of their spending periodically to someone else in your family, such as an accountant or your attorney.

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