Personal Power of Attorney and the Risks

While a power of attorney for personal care can be a useful and important tool for ensuring your wishes are respected, there are some risks associated with granting someone else decision-making authority over your personal care. It’s crucial to understand these risks and take appropriate measures to mitigate them. Here are some potential risks:

  1. Choosing an Inappropriate Attorney: Selecting the wrong person as your attorney for personal care can pose risks. If the appointed attorney does not have your best interests at heart, they may make decisions that do not align with your wishes or values. It is crucial to choose someone you trust implicitly and who understands and respects your preferences for personal care.
  • Misunderstanding or Ignoring Your Wishes: Your attorney may misinterpret or disregard your expressed wishes or beliefs regarding your personal care. This can occur due to a lack of clear communication or a failure to adequately understand your preferences. It is essential to have open and honest conversations with your attorney, clearly articulate your wishes, and document them in writing.
  • Conflicts of Interest: There may be situations where your attorney has conflicts of interest that could compromise their ability to make decisions solely in your best interests. For example, if your attorney stands to benefit financially from certain healthcare decisions, it may create a conflict between their personal interests and your well-being. It is important to choose an attorney who can prioritize your needs over their own.
  • Disagreements Among Family Members: Appointing an attorney for personal care can sometimes lead to disagreements among family members who have different opinions about your care. This can create conflicts and emotional stress. It is advisable to communicate openly with your family about your decisions and involve them in the process as much as possible to minimize potential conflicts.
  • Abuse or Neglect: In rare cases, an appointed attorney may abuse their power or neglect their responsibilities, resulting in harm to the grantor. This risk is relatively low, but it is essential to choose an attorney you trust implicitly and to periodically monitor their actions to ensure they are acting in your best interests.

To mitigate these risks, consider taking the following steps:

  • Choose your attorney wisely: Select someone who knows you well, understands your values and wishes, and is committed to acting in your best interests.
  • Clearly communicate your wishes: Have open and honest discussions with your attorney about your preferences for personal care and document them in writing.
  • Involve family members: Engage your family in discussions about your care to reduce the likelihood of conflicts.
  • Regularly review and update: Periodically review and update your power of attorney for personal care to reflect any changes in your circumstances or wishes.
  • Seek legal advice: Consult with a lawyer or legal professional experienced in estate planning to ensure your power of attorney document is properly drafted and legally sound.

Remember that a power of attorney for personal care can be an essential tool in protecting your interests, but it is crucial to be cautious and diligent in choosing the right attorney and communicating your wishes effectively.

Brian Madigan LL.B.,

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