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Whom should you name as your power of attorney?

Naming a power of attorney is easier said than done, since you have a seemingly endless number of options. While you can name almost anyone you want, you don't want to make a rash decision that could end up negatively impacting you or your loved ones in the future.

Most people select a spouse, adult child, relative or close friend to act as their power of attorney. As you compare your options, you should focus on the person who is best suited to take on the many tasks often bestowed upon a power of attorney.

Here are five details to help guide your decision:

  • Close proximity to your home: This isn't a must, but it's nice to know that your power of attorney lives close to your home and/or where you receive medical care. This way, if they need to see you to make a decision in a hurry, they don't have to travel too far.
  • Trustworthy: Trust is one of the most important things to look for in a power of attorney. This person can be responsible for many things, and you must trust that they'll make the right decisions. If you don't trust someone with 100 percent of your heart, move onto another option.
  • A "take control" attitude: This doesn't mean that your power of attorney should push people around. However, this person should be able to take control of a situation that is not always difficult to deal with. For example, your power of attorney may have to converse with people who are dealing with a variety of emotions.
  • An understanding of your wishes: You can outline your wishes, but that doesn't mean that someone will necessarily agree with them. You want to choose a power of attorney who understands your wishes and why you feel the way you do.
  • Willing to serve: Just because you name someone a power of attorney doesn't mean they have to serve if the time comes. Instead, they can turn down the responsibility, which then puts the court in charge. To avoid this, discuss the responsibility with your chosen power of attorney before making a final decision.

As you consider whom to name as your power of attorney, focus on these five details. Doing so will move you in the right direction, thus helping you understand your legal rights and how to complete the process.

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