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Who should I choose as my agent in a durable power of attorney?

If you have decided that a durable financial power of attorney makes sense for your situation, you must decide who to choose as your agent. Your agent is the alternate decision-maker that you name in your power of attorney document. This trusted person will be responsible for helping you manage your financial affairs.

Financial affairs can be sensitive, and due to your agent’s involvement in these affairs, the potential for financial abuse exists. This type of abuse usually involves an agent misusing the principal’s money for personal gain. The potential for financial abuse may seem intimidating, but you can minimize the risk of that occurring if you use care and good judgement when selecting your agent.

Should an agent have certain qualities?

Any competent adult can serve as an agent. Often, people choose a spouse, adult child or other close family member. However, your agent could be someone who is not related to you or could be an organization, like a bank.

The best way to narrow your options is to consider who you trust the most. The American Bar Association lists trust as the single most important factor to consider when choosing an agent.

Other considerations may include the potential agent’s:

  • Financial ability
  • Nearby location
  • Willingness to prioritize your wishes over his or her wishes
  • Ability to manage potential family conflicts
  • Availability now and in the future
  • Willingness to accept the responsibilities of being your agent

Many factors can help educate your choice in an agent. However, every person’s situation is unique, and who you choose as your agent is ultimately up to you.

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