One of the most critical documents in an individual’s Louisiana estate planning arsenal is a durable power of attorney (POA). This document authorizes another individual, called the agent, to manage your financial matters if you become incapacitated.
Who should you choose as your agent?
During the estate planning process, you will be asked to name a person to act as your POA agent. Many people choose their spouse or an adult child as their agent, but you can also select someone outside your family.
Whomever you choose, make sure that person is someone you implicitly trust as they may eventually have to manage your financial affairs. That person should also have a wide range of skills, including perspective, judgment and integrity, to handle the wide range of duties necessary as a POA agent. The chosen individual can be the same one who manages your health care POA, but it doesn’t have to be.
When the agent’s duties begin
Generally, your agent’s duties will not begin until some specific event, such as a medical event or an accident, renders you incapacitated. Duties can include:
- Identifying and controlling assets
- Securing all assets
- Attempting to preserve your estate
- Managing legal obligations
The complexities of estate planning
If you’re unsure who you should name as your agent, it may help to discuss the issue with your family and friends as well as financial advisors who can provide neutral insight. Advanced directives, like POAs and other documents, including do-not-resuscitate documents, will make life easier for your survivors who won’t have to ponder what to do.
A good, comprehensive estate plan can change over time and should be reviewed periodically. As with other parts of your plan, you can change, add and delete people named in your directives and other documents like wills, trusts and other. Your survivors will thank you for having the foresight to do this planning when you are still able.