Atlanta Estate Planning, Wills & Probate | Siedentopf Law

How to Ask Someone to be Your Power of Attorney

I don’t have any children. How do I go about asking a friend to be my power of attorney or my healthcare agent?

I’m Sarah Siedentopf. I’m an estate planning attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. And this comes up quite a bit with clients who say, you know what?

I don’t have children. I don’t have anyone who is sort of automatically assumed that they will take over these roles. How do I go about asking people?

And the first thing that I do like to tell people is that there are professionals who do this. And there are various ways you can set that up. You can go, first of all, with a professional. You can say, there’s nobody in my life who I either am that close to or want to put that on. So we can set you up. First I have have a list of people and you can, you talk to them, you see who’s a good fit for you, and just hire a professional right off.

The next thing is we could have a professional as the backup. And that is the most common thing where we say, okay, I do have a friend who I think would be willing to do this. But for my peace of mind and to alleviate their concerns, we’ll say that the professional is the backup.

We could also have a co where we say the professional works together with the friend. That is possible, depending on the professional’s willingness to do this. If there are extra people making decisions, it always adds extra pieces in there. But knowing that there are professional backups available can take some of the angst off of that conversation.

And really the, how do you communicate in that particular relationship is the real question. Because there is a lot of value to asking face-to-face, sitting down, having coffee, having lunch, having dinner, and just saying, hey, this is what I’m looking at my estate planning. I’m trying to figure out what to do. I really don’t have family members available for this. Is this a role you would consider? And I would never put a I need to know by Friday kind of deadline on it because you want the real answer. This is absolutely a situation where you want the real answer.

You do not want them to say yes when they mean no. And I absolutely have had somebody come into my office and say, so and so asked me to be trustee and I should have said no. And instead I said yes and they’ve passed away. Now supposedly I’m trustee.

How do I get out of this? And that’s not the situation that you want. In this situation, person had passed, but you definitely don’t want your power of attorney, your medical decision maker saying, actually, I didn’t mean it. So you want the real answer. You don’t want to come to them and say,  I need an answer from my attorney by Friday. This is a big enough question that you wanna ask it and give them space to say yes or no, to think about it and work through it. Ask questions, do some research on their own, because they probably want to know what does this entail for me? On the other hand, if you are a texter or an emailer, there is also I feel like room for asking those questions, setting up those questions.

Maybe not having the whole conversation via text or email but setting up the question so that it gives them a moment to think about it without looking you in the eye and having to make some kind of response right away so that they can think about it. And maybe if the answer is no, they can text it to you and you’re more likely to get an actual answer than if they’re looking you in the eye and feel bad about letting you down. So it matters a whole lot how you communicate in the relationship. The biggest thing is to realize that you are looking for the actual answer. They are not your last and final hope.

If you don’t do this, no one will. We can still, we can find you someone who will do a great job who you will like and trust, but it would always be sort of more comforting if you’ve got a friend available. So when you’re having that conversation, know that there are other options, and I think that is the biggest help to making that conversation flow smoothly.

And of course, you can offer to pay these people. Power of attorneys especially is something that I often have payment provisions in for. So it’s also an option for you to know that they can get paid or to let them know ahead of time that if you have to take time off work for this, you will be reimbursed, you will get paid for this. So that also helps.

If you’ve got more questions about asking a friend to be your power of attorney or healthcare agent, or you need to do some estate planning and think through what your options are for limited family, limited trusted people, please reach out. I’d love to hear from you. And also thank you for watching and please like and subscribe.

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