Understanding how to select your attorney-in-fact

One of the most essential elements of an estate plan for Texas residents is creating a power of attorney for financial matters. This document is necessary if someone becomes incapacitated and cannot make their own decisions. The person you select as your attorney-in-fact should be someone you trust and who has your best interests at heart.

Duties of an attorney-in-fact

An attorney-in-fact is not necessarily a legal professional but someone you appoint to act as your agent. Under an estate plan, the attorney-in-fact can have a broad range of powers that you may outline when creating the document. Among the possible duties are:

  • Perform business transactions
  • Buy, sell and maintain property of any kind
  • Establish or terminate financial accounts in your name
  • Sign contracts in your name
  • Sign your tax returns

The power of attorney you give to your agent can be full or limited, according to your wishes. The agent’s duties terminate upon your passing.

Criteria for selecting your attorney-in-fact

When selecting your agent, you want someone you can trust. That individual can be a friend or a family member, or you can hire a professional such as an accountant, a trust officer or a banker if you don’t know anyone who will be up to the job. The person you choose should have good financial management skills.

Developing your estate plan

Many people who have never been through the estate planning process don’t realize how many different components are essential for protecting your assets and your legacy. While various trusts can help protect your assets and minimize taxes, developing a power of attorney for financial matters and healthcare are also essential. Without these documents, your assets may become locked if you are incapacitated.

Choosing a reputable person is also crucial, as someone who does not have your best interests at heart can potentially squander your assets for their own profit. Another consideration is ensuring the person you want to take on the job is willing to do it. Someone reluctant to do the job is not the right person.