The person you choose to be your agent or attorney-in-fact has to do certain things. The agent’s most important job is to always act in your best interest.
Although your agent is only supposed to do things that are in your best interest or for your benefit, your agent has great freedom to do as he or she pleases. Because your agent will have so much power, it is important to choose someone whom you trust. Before choosing an agent, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I trust this person?
- Does this person understand my feelings and my point of view? Will he or she follow my wishes if I am ever incapacitated?
- Is this person willing to do the work and spend the time handling my affairs?
- Is this person available to visit me or to keep in contact by phone?
- Is this person knowledgeable about finances? If not, would this person seek the help of experts?
- Would I trust this person to handle my money if no one was watching them?
An agent must keep your money separate from his or her own. He or she must not be personally involved in or stand to profit by any action taken on your behalf.
An agent is not allowed to give away or transfer any of your money, personal property, or real estate to himself or herself unless the Power of Attorney document says this is OK. You and your agent must remember that certain gifts can affect your eligibility for long-term care benefits under Medicaid and can result in other serious consequences. Because of these risks, it is especially important that people with property (such as a house or a camp), savings (such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit) and income (such as salary, pension, and Social Security benefits) get an attorney to help them make a Power of Attorney.
You should call Legal Services for the Elderly to talk to an attorney about your situation. It’s free and easy. The attorney can help you decide what you should do. Call the Legal Services for the Elderly Helpline: 1-800-750-5353.