I have to decide between my two children, who should be my power of attorney when I need help communicating with doctors and handling my financial matters. Can’t I just name them both?
You can, but please don’t. You risk creating conflict or chaos if you name more than one child to serve simultaneously. Instead, pick one child at a time.
What to Consider When Deciding Your Health Care Agent
Think about which child is better suited to the responsibilities. For health care decision-making, the agent appointented in your Advance Health Care Directive should ideally be calm in stressful situations and be able to advocate courteously but firmly with doctors and nurses for the treatment you want. For financial management, the agent appointed in your Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Purposes should be organized, careful, and good with numbers. Two distinctly different skill sets are required.
Ideally, your health care agent should live nearby, but if the child who lives locally is terrified of things like needles and blood, the other, sturdier child might be a better choice. On the other hand, who can manage finances from afar, but if that child didn’t cope with a checkbook, the other would be better. So if one child is good in one area and the other child is good in the other, the dilemma is solved. You can name the number-proficient daughter for the financial side and your son for the health care. Or, if just one child is altogether more capable than the other, name that one child for both health care and financial powers.
But you do not want to create a situation where children who share the job start arguing about what health care you would want. Busy physicians have little time or patience to mediate fights like that. Likewise, you do not want your children quarreling about how you would want your money to be spent. A disagreement by co-agents could end up in probate court, costing the family thousand of dollars in unnecessary legal expenses. The resulting damage done could also destroy your family.
That’s why it’s best to give one child decision-making authority at a time. You can name the other as a backup in case the first child becomes unavailable, but naming both to serve simultaneously is generally not a good idea. Please contact us today at 877-585-1885 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal matters.
Thanks for reading.
Christopher E. Botti, Esq., Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law