In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson discusses the importance of naming successor power of attorney agents.
In another video, I talked about why it’s just not a good idea to name joint agents under a power of attorney. Toward the end of the video I mentioned, however, that it’s a good idea to name successors. Let me speak more to that and the sad consequences of failing to name successors.
Simple proposition — there are only two people in the world who can give somebody else the authority to make and carry out decisions for you. One of those people is you. The other is a judge in a court proceeding, guardianship or in some states, conservatorship. So, you have a judge that doesn’t know you or your family from Adam at great expense that’s making that decision for you. Who knows who the judge is going to name. It may very well not be the person that you’re going to name.
I’ve had people name just their spouse as a power of attorney agent. Guess what? One of you is going to die first and then the other doesn’t have a power of attorney agent. I’ve had people that come in with only three children and they only have one on the list. They go, “well I wouldn’t want the other two to do it, they’d be terrible choices. I don’t trust them.” And I say, guess what, you really need to name some other people on your list, because if the one that you’ve named can’t do it and this goes to court, the two that are going to have first priority for asking the judge who should be appointed are the two children that you didn’t want to do it, and guess who they are going to nominate? They are going to nominate themselves.
In that situation, if you want to make sure that somebody doesn’t get in, it’s imperative that you name somebody else on the list so that it never comes down to them. Please, when you’re doing powers of attorney, make sure that you name at least two successor agents to your first choice.
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Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 (IL) or (314) 567-9292 (MO), or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.