An important part of any Nevada resident’s estate plan is that person’s financial durable power of attorney and their health care durable power of attorney. The financial document allows another individual, who often is but does not have to be a family member or trusted friend, to handle a person’s financial affairs.
The healthcare power of attorney allows another individual to make healthcare decisions, even those involving life and death, for the person. This individual can but need not be the same as the individual named in a financial durable power of attorney.
The individual, called an attorney-in-fact, is there to step in if the person is no longer able to make their own decisions because of an illness, injury or chronic condition.
The powers of attorney are important since, without them, a family may have no ability to act for a loved one without first going to court. This is true even in simple matters like withdrawing money from a bank.
Furthermore, without these documents, a family could be confused about or even at odds over the best course of action for their loved one.
Who should I choose as an attorney-in-fact?
A key decision a Las Vegas resident has to ask is who they want to serve as an attorney-in-fact. While the decision will depend on a person’s situation, essentially, the attorney-in-fact needs to be someone the person trusts. Attorneys-in-fact have a lot of power, and even close relatives have been accused of abusing this power.
Of course, the attorney-in-fact also needs to be willing to fulfill their duties and have the time to do so. The attorney-in-fact will be expected to do things like manage money and communicate with medical professionals.
Are there additional safeguards I can put in place to prevent abuse?
There is nothing that can absolutely guarantee that an attorney-in-fact will behave properly. However, there are some steps a person in the Las Vegas area can take if they are concerned about the possibility of abuse. For example, a power of attorney can limit an attorney-in-fact’s ability to make large financial transactions alone, perhaps by referring these transactions to a committee.
Putting some or most of one’s property into a living trust and appointing a separate trustee over that property is another option. Especially in larger estates, appointing an attorney-in-fact is an important decision. A person will want to understand their legal options and alternatives.