A power of attorney is one of the more important documents you create when you develop an estate plan in the State of New York. Whether you create a single or multiple powers of attorney, the effectiveness of the document you create will largely hinge on your choice of agent. A good agent will be able to step in when needed and see to the tasks you have assigned, while a bad agent can mean endless headaches and potential legal disasters.
To help you select the right agent for your needs, here are several tips you can use when creating a power of attorney.
Tip 1. Look outside your circle of family members.
Most people who create a power of attorney choose a close family member to serve as agent. For example, many married people choose their spouse, while single people will often choose a sibling or even a parent.
However, there is no legal requirement that states that you have to choose someone related to you when appointing an agent under a power of attorney. In many situations a close friend, experienced coworker, or even a professional organization such as a bank or trust company can be a much better choice as an agent then a family member. This is especially true if the power of attorney you create will have your agent represent you in complicated negotiations or dealings. In such a situation, it’s necessary to choose someone who has both the ability and experience to handle such responsibilities.
Tip 2. Make sure your choice of agent agrees to serve under the power of attorney.
Anyone who creates power of attorney has to be a capable adult. You cannot be forced to create these documents, and must do so willingly. The same is true of your agent. When you select an agent, you have to be sure that person is not only a capable adult, but is someone who is willing to accept the responsibility of being your representative. Choosing an agent who is not willing, or capable, of serving is a recipe for disaster.
Tip 3. Give yourself some alternatives.
If you are creating a power of attorney you should be prepared to select more than one agent even if you are only asking one person to be your representative at a time. The fact is that agents can get sick, move, or decide they no longer wish to serve as your representative. Should this happen, your power of attorney should include names for alternative agents who can step in when necessary. Not having the right replacement available can mean you lose your agent when you need that person the most.