Berman & Asbel, LLP

Why is assigning power of attorney important?

No one can stop the aging process. We all get older. Some may maintain the mental acuity that's needed to make decisions and fulfill the obligations of life right to the end, but often that clarity erodes. Before that happens and some loved one or some person you don't trust is tapped unexpectedly to start making decisions on your behalf, assigning power of attorney seems to just make sense.

Under Pennsylvania law, a power of attorney document allows you to name an agent of your choice who will make decisions in your name if you die or become incapacitated. Such decisions are not the kind of thing that you want to leave to just anybody.

By granting powers of attorney as part of a comprehensive estate planning process, you give yourself the opportunity to make sure that your designated agent clearly understands what your wishes would be in any given circumstance, before it occurs. It not only provides you with a sense of relief, but it gives the agent greater confidence that he or she will be able to fulfill your expectations.

Powers of attorney can take different forms under state law. You could ask one person to manage all your financial matters in the event it becomes necessary. Alternatively, you might choose to give an agent limited power, perhaps to handle a significant property sale. You might want to name someone altogether different to make health care decisions for you.

Every person's needs are different and the selection of agents granted powers of attorney is something that should not be left to chance. This is why it's always wise to speak with a conscientious and experienced attorney.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Aging, "Power of Attorney," accessed May 1, 2015

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