A power of attorney is an important tool to include in every Phoenix estate plan. It is a document where you appoint someone to act on your behalf regarding legal, financial, or medical matters. There are two main types of powers of attorney that you should include in your Phoenix estate plan: a health care power of attorney and a durable power of attorney.
What is a Power of Attorney Agent in Phoenix?
A power of attorney agent is the individual you authorize to act on your behalf. The agent of a health care power of attorney makes medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
Typically, the agent of a health care power of attorney has the ability to:
- Agree or refuse treatment plans, medications, and pain management;
- Access medical records and information;
- Determine which doctors and specialists will treat you; and
- Decide whether or not to continue life support services.
The agent of a durable power attorney can handle many types of transactions including:
- Buying and selling property;
- Managing bank and investment accounts; and
- Filing tax returns
Who Can Be a Power of Attorney Agent in Phoenix?
In Phoenix, there are three limitations on who can act as an agent. The individual must be:
- Be 18 years of age or older;
- Live in Arizona; and
- Of sound mind.
Withstanding the above requirements, you can name anyone you want as your agent. People typically designate the following individuals to act as their agents:
- A spouse, adult child, or another family member;
- A professional, such as an attorney or accountant; and
- A close friend.
What Characteristics Should You Look For When Picking a Power of Attorney?
Choosing your power of attorney agent is a critical decision. Whoever you name should have the following characteristics:
- Trustworthy. An agent is given significant power to act on your behalf. You should pick an individual you trust to follow your wishes and speak on your behalf. You need to be confident that they will follow your wishes, even if they do not agree with all of your decisions.
- Detail Oriented. Your agent will be making medical and financial decisions on your behalf. You should pick someone detailed oriented who will extensively research your medical condition and care options. You want someone who will ask all the relevant questions to your care team, especially about medical tests, procedures, and diagnoses.
- Availability. Your agent should live close by so they are available when needed. For example, if you needed emergency medical care, your agent would need to be at the hospital immediately. It is preferable to pick someone that lives in the Phoenix metro area.
- Assertiveness. Your agent needs to be able to handle the pressure of making important decisions during a time when emotions are likely running high. Family members or friends may pressure your agent into making decisions that go against your wishes. Your agent needs to be able to stand up to them on your behalf. They should be able to communicate your wishes clearly and without wavering to your family and medical team.
- Willingness to Serve. Acting as an agent is a stressful and demanding position. Before naming an agent in your power of attorney, you should confirm they are willing to serve in this role. You should thoroughly explain their responsibilities and answer any questions they have. For your health care power of attorney, you need to communicate your wishes regarding resuscitation and treatments. If your agent is unwilling to respect all your choices, they are not the right fit.
Can You Pick More Than One Power of Attorney Agent in Phoenix?
In Phoenix, you can name more than one agent in a power of attorney. However, this strategy is not recommended because it often complicates matters. All of your agents need to sign off on every decision. Not every agent may be available to act when needed, or they could disagree with one another. If they cannot come to a resolution, they might have to go to court to resolve the conflict resulting in added time and expense.
Although it is generally not recommended to name multiple agents, you should name an alternate agent. Your alternate agent will step up if your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve in the role.
Your Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney
Nicole Pavlik is an experienced Phoenix estate planning attorney who can create a power of attorney. If you have questions about powers of attorney and estate planning, call Nicole Pavlik Law Firm today at (602) 635-6176 for a free consultation.