Choosing the Right Agent for Your Power of Attorney: Key Selection Tips

For long-term or estate planning, creating a power of attorney (POA) is crucial for future protection, covering financial and medical decisions during incapacitation. Choosing the right agent is vital.

Choosing the right agent for your power of attorney requires one to understand the type of POA and the characteristics an agent should have to become a power of attorney. The agent, legally the attorney in fact, makes decisions on your behalf.

This guide outlines their powers and offers agent-naming tips for your POA.

Choosing the right power of attorney
Choosing the right power of attorney. Photo Source (Forbes)

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) in estate planning grants decision-making authority. The drafter is the principal/grantor, and the chosen agent is the attorney-in-fact.

Various POA types cater to different decision-making needs, with the principal voluntarily selecting their agent, unlike court-appointed guardians or conservators. POAs provide peace of mind by designating decision-makers for situations when the principal can’t act.

Why Does It Matter Which Power of Attorney I Am Creating?

Different POAs grant distinct agent powers:

  1. General POA: Broad legal decision-making but not durable (ends on incapacitation).
  2. Durable POA: Remains effective during incapacitation, often for healthcare decisions.
  3. Financial POA: Empowers agents for financial decisions, with specific authorities.
  4. Healthcare POA: Authorizes medical choices, often combined with a living will in advanced healthcare directives.
  5. Springing POA: Takes effect after specific events, like incapacitation.
  6. Limited POA: Restricts agents to specific tasks, also called special or specific POA, suitable for isolated tasks like real estate transactions.

What To Look For When Choosing The Right Agent For Your Power Of Attorney

POA grants significant agent powers, making careful agent selection vital. Consider the following factors when choosing your agent.

  • A Reliable Or Trustworthy Individual. A POA agent manages critical property, health, and financial decisions, demanding complete trust in the chosen individual.

  • An Individual Who Is Located/Living Nearby The Principals House. Selecting a nearby agent is vital for prompt assistance, especially if they need to handle daily tasks for the principal.

  • An Individual Who Is Well-Organized And Logical. POA agents often juggle added duties with work and family responsibilities. They must stay organized and remain logical under emotional pressure, as their decisions can affect loved ones.

  • An Individual Who Shares The Principal Desires And Values. While the principal outlines general desires in the POA, the agent should thoroughly understand the principal’s specific values and wishes. Detailed discussions are essential to ensure the agent aligns with the principal’s plans, risk tolerance, and the extent of their responsibilities.

  • An Individual Who Wants To Be A POA Agent By Will. The principal should never select an unwilling POA agent. Agents must handle significant decisions and responsibilities in finance, property, or health matters, which can be overwhelming for those unprepared or lacking time.

How to Choose the Right Agent for Your Power of Attorney

Selecting the right POA agent is crucial. They’ll make decisions if you’re unable, so choose someone you trust and who can make sound choices. Tips for the selection:

  1. Trust and Compatibility: Pick someone trustworthy, compatible, and respectful of your wishes, like a close family member or friend.
  2. Proficiency and Consistency: Consider their expertise, consistency, dependability, and attention to detail in handling financial, healthcare, and other decisions.
  3. Connectivity and Accessibility: Ensure open communication and their understanding of your goals.
  4. Shared Values and Ethics: Choose someone with similar values and ethical standards to act in your best interests.
  5. Backup Agents: Appoint additional agents in case the primary one is unable to fulfill their duties.


Appointing a POA ensures a legal agent for managing long-term property, financial, and health matters. It provides future assurance for crucial decisions. Choosing a trustworthy, organized, willing agent is vital due to the responsibilities and sensitivity of these decisions.