What to Consider Before Signing a Power of Attorney

  • Understand how the different types of powers of attorney work, i.e., naming someone so they hare authority to act for you in medical or financial decision making if you can’t make decisions yourself.
  • Decide when you want the power of attorney to start. You can have it start immediately, or start only when and if you are unable to make your own decisions or are incapacitated.
  • Make sure to list a second alternate, and possibly a third if possible.  Specify if they can act alone or must act together.
  • Make sure the person is someone you trust to handle your money and property in the way you want.
  • Decide whether you want to have more than one person as your agent, and a method to resolve disputes if the agents can’t agree. (For example, if you have two children and they disagree on your medical care, you can list your personal doctor or a third person as the final “vote” on what would be best for you.)

Banks and credit unions may also have their own forms to appoint an agent to make decisions about your account with them. If you already have a power of attorney that gives your agent control over your money, you don’t need to sign the bank’s form. Also, if you sign another power of attorney, there is a possibility that your other power of attorney could become invalid.

Before you sign the bank’s form, review it with someone you trust. You can also show your own power of attorney to the person at the bank to make sure that it can be used for banking purposes.

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