The person you designate to act on your behalf under a Financial Power of Attorney is called your Attorney-in-Fact. This person will have far-reaching power to conduct financial transactions in your name, and to make certain legal decisions for you. For instance, your Attorney-in-Fact will likely have the power to access and control your bank accounts. He or she may also have the authority to manage your investments on your behalf, and buy and sell property in your name. With all this power, it’s essential that you choose someone you can trust. Here are a few things to look for:
- Loyalty: Your Attorney-in-Fact needs to be someone who will put your interests ahead of their own. Of course, this person will be under a legal duty to act in your best interests, and there’s some legal recourse available if your Attorney-in-Fact breaches his or her duty to you. But, it’s better to pick someone who will serve you well and take care of your interests, than to try to correct misdeeds after the fact.
- Business Sense: This person will have the power to manage your legal and financial affairs, so you’ll want to choose someone with the business and financial sophistication necessary to handle the task.
- Organization: You need someone who can keep track of your finances for you. Depending on your financial picture, this could involve quite a lot of paperwork and recordkeeping. Even if your financial situation is relatively simple, your Attorney-in-Fact will need to be able to balance a checkbook and keep basic files.
- Responsibility: One of the things an Attorney-in-Fact often does is manage your household finances if you become disabled. You’ll want someone who can take care of your affairs in a timely manner.
- Proximity to You: You’ll likely want to choose someone who lives close to you. This will make it much easier for your Attorney-in-Fact to take care of practical financial matters on your behalf.
Choosing the right Attorney-in-Fact can make all the difference in how your assets are managed.