We don’t mean to freak you out, but choosing a Power of Attorney (POA) is a big and extremely important decision. Why? Because your POA gives another individual the ability to manage your health, finances and other assets, in case you can’t. It’s safe to say that a POA landing in the wrong hands can be… detrimental, so it’s important to make an informed decision you’re comfortable with in case the unexpected happens.
What is a POA?
We’ve written a chunky guide on the definition of ‘Power of Attorney’. This will explain the document, what it entails, and what your elected individual will be responsible for if you’re no longer able to manage your own assets, financials, or healthcare.
When can a POA take action?
There are two types of POA – an enduring one, and a general one. An ‘enduring’ POA refers to someone who can make decisions on your behalf if you lose the capacity to do so yourself (for example, if you’re in a coma or if you have dementia). A ‘general’ POA refers to someone who can make decisions on your behalf while you still have capacity to make them yourself. More info on that here, though.
Who should be my POA?
We can’t exactly answer that for you, because everyone has a different person in their life they’d feel comfortable delegating POA to. For most, their Power of Attorney is a partner, parent, child, sibling or close family member, while for others, it’s a friend, close colleague, legal professional, or close neighbour. Who you choose as your POA depends largely on the people you’re surrounded by, and who you trust most with your assets.
What are some characteristics I should consider when selecting my POA?
There are a few elements to consider when choosing your POA. Here are some worth noting:
They live close by
This is super important, especially if you find yourself in a hospital or care centre. A healthcare POA will need to be able to attend the hospital or care centre quickly in order to make decisions for you in an emergency. Have family who reside in a different state? They might not be the best choice.
They’re very trustworthy
This goes without saying, but providing an individual you trust with POA is important. Consider their values, the way they live their life, and how likely they are to abide by your wishes. When you choose a POA, you’re choosing that person to speak, act and make decisions on your behalf. Trust is key.
The role of a POA is not an easy one. Often, emotions are heightened when they’re required to act, and clear communication is essential during these times. We’d recommend choosing someone who isn’t afraid to stand up for what you’d want, who will do everything they can to fulfil your wishes, and will push hard to achieve the outcomes you deserve regardless of external pressure from other loved ones.
They understand medical processes
POAs are responsible for making decisions about your health when you don’t have the capacity to do so. Thus, it’s important to choose someone who understands the health system and medical processes, so they can make informed and logical decisions for you that’ll provide the best possible outcome (and an outcome you would’ve chosen for yourself).
Communicating under pressure is an essential element of the role of a POA. They’ll likely have to make decisions quickly, and in doing so, will need to ensure their decisions are clearly communicated. Ask yourself if your chosen POA will be able to make the right decisions under pressure, while communicating these decisions articulately and appropriately. If they can? They get a tick of approval from us.
Choosing the ‘perfect’ Power of Attorney can be challenging, especially if you feel obligated to choose a certain person in your life. Remember that by choosing a POA, you’re providing an individual or individuals with the keys to your entire life, so selecting someone you have great trust in is essential – don’t worry about what the other loved ones in your life would want. Your health and safety is top priority when it comes to POA – and don’t you forget it.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting, medical or tax advice.