Attorney & Mediator
Attorney & Mediator

Selecting the wrong agents

The selection of a Personal Representative or Trustee, an Agent under a Power of Attorney or an Advocate under a Designation of Patient Advocate is a choice that often gets too little thought.

Often, parents will feel that they must name their children and that this must be done by birth order.  They believe that the most important issue in their selection is the feelings of their family – they don’t want anyone to have hurt feelings or be upset.

Birth order, the feelings of family members, and similar considerations are not a good basis for selection of agents for these tasks.

Personal Representatives, Trustees and Agents under Power of Attorneys require attention to detail, organization, financial responsibility and hard work.  If the individual that you have selected is not good at completing tasks, is a procrastinator, or can’t balance a checkbook – you have selected the wrong individual.  They must be capable of doing tasks on schedule and accounting for all of their actions and expenditures.

Additionally, if it is likely that there will be arguing and confrontation involved in the process, the individual needs the backbone to stand up to other family members.  It may be that a family member is the wrong selection – perhaps it is more prudent to select an individual who is a disinterested third party.

When selecting an advocate under a Patient Advocate Designation, you need to select an individual who will honor your wishes – who will do what you wanted – not what they want.  Additionally, it must be an individual who is comfortable dealing with health care personnel during an emotionally difficult time.  If the individual that you have appointed is uncomfortable in hospital settings, is unable to ask tough questions, or make tough decisions, then again, you have selected the wrong individual.

Additionally, it may be that selecting a contemporary of yours will be the better choice than an individual who is much younger, such as a child.

Selection of an agent is a decision that requires considerable deliberation and thought.  It is important that the skill set of the individual is a good fit for the duties of the job.