Do You Need a Power of Attorney?
When you prepare a power of attorney, you will designate one or more “agents” to make medical or financial decisions on your behalf. A Waco estate planning lawyer at Rainey & Rainey will help you create a comprehensive power of attorney document that complies with Texas law and meets your needs.
Do you need a power of attorney in the State of Texas? Who should be your power of attorney agent? Should you have more than one person acting as your power of attorney agent? What are an agent’s duties? Keep reading for the answers that you and your loved ones may need.
What Does a Power of Attorney Provide?
If you should become disabled or incapacitated, and you can’t make the financial or medical decisions that you need to make, a power of attorney document can give your agent the legal authority to make those decisions and to protect your well-being and best interests.
In Texas, every adult should have a medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. If others are counting on you (if you have a family or a business, for example), it is particularly important – and it’s never too early – to prepare the legal documents that may one day be needed.
A financial power of attorney gives your agent the authority to do your business on your behalf. It can give your agent extensive powers over all of your financial and business affairs or limited authority to deal only with specific obligations. Similarly, a medical power of attorney may give your agent extensive power to make your medical decisions or may place limits on that authority.
Who Should Be Your Agent?
When you prepare a power of attorney, who should be designated as your agent? It should be someone you trust to make choices for you and direct your affairs if you are disabled or incapacitated. It should be someone you trust with your life – because that’s what you’re doing.
An agent should be committed to your long-term best interests, organized and detail-oriented, and at ease when working with healthcare providers and financial professionals. Many people choose a family member – or more than one person – to act as a power of attorney agent.
What Are a Power of Attorney Agent’s Responsibilities?
Power of attorney agents in this state must adhere to the conditions and terms set forth in the power of attorney document. An agent cannot have any conflicts of interest.
Your financial power of attorney agent, for example, may not commingle or combine his or her own property or assets with your property and assets unless you and the agent jointly owned the assets and property (for instance, as marital property) prior to having the document prepared.
Your financial power of attorney agent must keep detailed and accurate records of any transactions or other decisions made on your behalf. Your agent must make your best interests the highest priority, and your agent may receive reasonable compensation for his or her services.
Should More Than One Person Be Named as Your Agent?
In Texas and several other states, more than one co-agent may share your medical and financial powers of attorney. Should you name more than one person to be your agent? What are the advantages – and the disadvantages – of having more than one power of attorney agent?
Having a second power of attorney agent can be quite convenient, but there can also be some serious disadvantages. You should discuss every aspect of your power of attorney document with your Waco estate planning attorney at Rainey & Rainey before you finalize and sign that document.
What are the advantages of naming more than one power of attorney agent? A second agent can make it faster and easier to manage your business and financial affairs. Dividing responsibilities may also make acting as your agent less burdensome and more convenient for your co-agents.
What Are the Disadvantages of Designating Co-Agents?
The potential for disagreements among co-agents may be the main reason to name only one power of attorney agent. Co-agents may disagree about financial choices. If they disagree about medical decisions, your healthcare provider may be the party making medical decisions for you.
Another disadvantage is the potential for confusion when co-agents give conflicting directions to healthcare providers. When your co-agents are family members, disputes over your healthcare or your finances could mean that your family members must go to court to settle their differences.
Moreover, when more than one person is your agent, it slows the making of time-sensitive decisions, and it increases the potential for abuse. An agent may be liable for any self-serving or fraudulent actions, and when presented with sufficient evidence, a court may remove an agent.
What is a “Successor” Agent?
When you prepare a financial or medical power of attorney document and you name an agent, you should also name a successor agent in case your first choice can’t act as your agent when an agent’s services are required.
A successor agent is not a co-agent. A successor agent steps in if the person you have designated as your agent is unwilling, unable, or unavailable to fulfill an agent’s duties. Unless the document states otherwise, your successor agent has the same authority as your original agent.
Before you name any power of attorney agent, co-agent, or successor agent, have a discussion with that individual about an agent’s responsibilities and the types of choices that may have to be made on your behalf.
Who Should Prepare Your Power of Attorney Documents?
Finding the right Waco estate planning lawyer to prepare your power of attorney documents may not be easy. You need an attorney who understands your needs and has considerable experience preparing power of attorney documents in Texas. Where can you find that attorney?
A Waco estate planning attorney at Rainey & Rainey can prepare the power of attorney documents that you may need. Your attorney can also discuss and prepare a living will, a declaration of guardianship, a trust, a last will and testament, or a comprehensive estate plan to provide long-term financial security for your loved ones.
We can’t predict the future, but we can prepare for it. To learn more, to prepare a financial and/or medical power of attorney, or to begin planning your estate, call Rainey & Rainey now at 254-457-5083. We have offices in both Georgetown and Waco.