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The power of a power of attorney

When you are hale and hearty in the prime of your life, it can be difficult to imagine that one day your body and mind may become too debilitated to carry out your personal and business decisions.

Yet an accident or sudden, catastrophic illness can incapacitate anyone in the blink of an eye. Even if it doesn't hit like a bolt from the blue, diseases like Alzheimer's that cause dementia affect many Americans. In fact, the Alzheimer's Association reports that here in the United States, one out of every ninth senior citizen suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

To avoid being exploited financially by dishonest individuals when you lack the capacity to see their duplicity, it's far better to choose someone you trust to have your financial power of attorney.

Designating a trusted friend or family member to act in your best interest when handling your finances, e.g., managing investments, paying bills and selling properties, can give you real peace of mind about the future.

Without a valid power of attorney in place when you become incapacitated, someone would need to seek permission from the court in order to handle your affairs. Although they would ostensibly be required to act in your best interest, you would have no control over the person or be able to outline your own intentions.

A power of attorney allows people of any age to grant those rights to those they choose without stripping away any of their own rights while they are in possession of their faculties. Should they later decide they do not want that individual to have their powers of attorney, they can easily be revoked.

Never allow someone to pressure you into naming him or her as your power of attorney, as some may abuse the privileges. Address any concerns you may have with your estate planning attorney or financial advisor.

Source: The Motley Fool, "Power of Attorney: Preparing for the Unexpected," The Alert Investor, accessed Dec. 30, 2016

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