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What are important qualities for powers of attorney to have?

Once you've made the decision to draft the basic estate planning documents, you may have some questions. For instance, what qualities should the person whom you designate as power of attorney have? Different people have different strengths and weaknesses, so keep in mind that you may want to designate two separate individuals as your legal and medical powers of attorney.

A legal power of attorney should likely have most of these characteristics:

-- Trustworthiness and a reputation beyond reproach

-- Willingness to work together with accountants, lawyers, appraisers and other professionals

-- Good organizational skills and keen eye for detail

-- Comprehension of the breadth and scope of the duties involved and the time to commit to carrying them out

It's helpful if a medical power of attorney possesses these qualities:

-- Prior medical background or training

-- Ability to remain calm in a crisis and make decisions

-- Experience communicating with medical professionals

Your power(s) of attorney should also live in the same geographic vicinity as you so they are available when it's necessary for them to step in. It's also a good idea if your extended family members trust the one(s) that you choose and are able to get along with them and express their feelings about the situation.

Discuss your choices with the individuals you select and make sure that they, too, are comfortable in the role. In the event that a power of attorney predeceases you or is otherwise unavailable, it's also a good idea to select an alternate as back-up.

Your Massachusetts estate planning attorney can help you arrange all of the necessary documents and provide copies for those whom you choose to have them.

Source: Sharecare, "What qualities should a power of attorney have?," accessed Feb. 10, 2017

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