In Missouri, a power of attorney is an estate planning document that authorizes a person, known as the agent, to make medical and financial decisions on behalf of the principal, who created the document. There are different ways of choosing the agent named in the power of attorney. Determining who should have this responsibility is an important step in securing financial affairs while setting up an estate plan.
According to the American Bar Association, many choose a family member, such as a spouse or child, as their power of attorney. Often, someone may choose a co-agent, or more than one person, to act together on his or her behalf. Although this may seem appealing, more agents could mean more opportunities for disagreement, or that someone may not be available when the time comes to make these important life decisions. For example, disagreements can happen in second marriages, or between siblings, when one person attempts to funnel money away from the other.
Forbes reports it is wise to pay attention to the language in these documents in order to avoid abuses or other issues down the line. Selecting two people as co-agents can create checks and balances and ensure money is going into the right hands. Further, sometimes the named agent can die or become debilitated, so choosing an alternate, or successor agent, is an option to consider.
Naming an agent in a power of attorney can seem like a daunting task. Alongside wills and trusts, creating a power of attorney is an important decision and part of responsible estate planning.