It is very important who you select to serve as a power of attorney agent because this person has a great deal of responsibility over your personal affairs. This is true whether you have given them general powers or specific powers to handle on your behalf.
When they work properly, a power of attorney gives you a tremendous amount of peace of mind that if something happens to you another trusted party is able to make decisions for you. However, who you select to serve in this agent role is critical, because this person will have extensive decision-making power on your behalf depending on how you structure your power of attorney document.
Choosing the right person who you trust to follow through on these responsibilities is crucial for getting the peace of mind that comes with creating a power of attorney. Attorneys-in-fact must meet a certain standard of care when performing their duties on your behalf. This is because an attorney-in-fact is viewed as a fiduciary under the law, which is a relationship built on trust. If an attorney-in-fact violates this trust the law can punish the attorney-in-fact either criminally, civilly, or both.
An attorney-in-fact has a responsibility to clearly document all the actions they have taken and to follow any of the terms listed in the power of attorney document. Furthermore, there are several different activities that a power of attorney agent or attorney-in-fact cannot do, such as creating or revoking a will. If the power of attorney legally authorizes a particular act for this agent to take under their care and responsibility, the attorney-in-fact cannot be held personally responsible for that act. It is very important to decide how to select a power of attorney agent and to work directly with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney to do so.