Agents are arguably the most important people in our legal lives. They step in and make decisions for you when you are unable to act for yourself. They make financial decisions for you under a Financial Power of Attorney and make medical decisions for you when you aren’t able to act for yourself under a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
For example, let’s say your daughter is going to study abroad for a semester. She may want you to sell her car and manage her financials matters while she’s away. She could name you as her immediate Agent under a Financial Power of Attorney. As her Agent, you would have the power to sell her car and manage her financial affairs in her absence. Similarly, you can appoint someone as Agent under a Health Care Power of Attorney. This individual will make medical decisions for you when you’re not able to make them for yourself.
So what are the qualities that can help you appoint the right agent for your situation? They should share your philosophy or at least be willing to abide by your philosophy when exercising their duties as your Agent. For example, let’s say you appoint your son as your agent under your Financial Power of Attorney. He is very sophisticated in business but he’s a risk taker. He knows you’re quite conservative in your financial dealings. He should be willing to manage your financial affairs using your conservative approach. If not, there may be a better choice for you rather than your son.
Another important quality to consider is their reliability and whether they are likely to put your interests ahead of their own.
Whether the Agent has some knowledge about finances or medical issues is another important factor to consider. Also, you should consider their geographical location. While there is no requirement that your Agent be located in the same area as you, it is often a practical consideration to make.
Oftentimes, clients believe it should be their spouse or oldest child but this is not always the case. You should pick the person who is best for the task and will put your interests ahead of their own.