Not So Secret Agent?
Whenever I hear the word “Agent”, my mind automatically goes to movies where James Bond is skiing down a slope being chased by bad guys, or Tom Cruise’s heist scene in Langley. Unfortunately, “Agents” in the context of estate planning are not usually as exciting. Agents come in two flavors: Health Care Agents and Financial Agents.
Health Care Agents
A common document that should be part of your estate plan is a Health Care Power of Attorney. This document, generally, allows an Agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re not able to do so for yourself. A good Health Care Agent is someone who will respect and listen to your decisions regarding medical issues.
Another common document that should be included in your estate plan is a Financial Power of Attorney. This document allows someone to make financial decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to. Something very important to consider: Just because you choose someone to be your Health Care Agent, doesn’t mean they should also be your Financial Agent. Financial Agents may have to make very important decisions regarding your finances. Someone you love and trust to make medical decisions for you may not be the same person you want handling your finances. It is often beneficial to appoint a Financial Agent who has knowledge of financial affairs and is fully capable of managing your assets.
Overall, regardless of whether a person is your Health Care Agent OR Financial Agent (or both), you should choose someone that is reliable and is willing to put your interests ahead of their own. Agents are people that step in and make decisions for you when you’re unable, so choose wisely and with careful contemplation!