Powers of attorney and an agent’s responsibilities

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2021 | Estate planning

Elderly residents of Florida who want to make sure they are fully protected if they are unable to make decisions on their own will often think about having a power of attorney. This is a useful strategy to name a competent and trustworthy person to oversee the principal’s affairs. When it is used for finances, it is important to have someone who assesses the situation from the perspective of the principal. However, the key words to think about are “competent” and “trustworthy.” Understanding the agent’s responsibilities under the law before naming that person can give the principal a good idea as to whether the choice is wise.

The agent’s duties under a power of attorney

The agent is required to act as the principal would reasonably expect. This means that the agent must be a person who would know and adhere to the principal’s wishes and based on his or her best interests. The following factors must be considered when preserving an estate plan: its value; the principal’s obligations; minimizing taxes; knowing the eligibility for benefits and programs; and being aware of the principal’s history in charitable endeavors and gift giving.

The responsibilities cannot be delegated except in certain circumstances. Receipts must be made for all transactions made in the name of the principal. There must be an inventory of property kept in a safe-deposit box. The fundamental requirement is to always act in the principal’s best interests. If the principal becomes incapacitated and has a different person who is making health care decisions, then the agent must cooperate with that person and adhere to the reasonable expectations.

Understanding estate planning and picking the right agent

It can be difficult to think about a possible future when a person is unable to make decisions on their own. For every aspect of life – financial, health care and legal – it is imperative to be fully prepared. There are many options with a power of attorney and it can grow confusing when determining how to proceed. With estate planning for seniors, making the right choice is critical. Discussing the circumstances with those who are experienced with these issues can be helpful in making an informed decision.