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Should you appoint a child as power of attorney?

Choosing someone to be your power of attorney (POA) is a vital piece of estate planning since your POA will be empowered to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. Some Illinois residents feel their adult child is the best person qualified to become their POA. However, while there are good reasons for a child to be a POA, appointing an offspring can also cause substantial problems.

Many parents trust their adult child and have no problem selecting a son or a daughter as a power of attorney. However, if the family contains two or more siblings, appointing just one as a POA could be a problem. According to Agingcare.com, conflict between siblings can break out if there are complicated relationships among the siblings. Sometimes these conflicts may be nothing more than petty bickering among the family members. However, the situation could also result in siblings waging legal battles with each other.

It is important to know how your family will react to one child being granted a POA. Even if that child is qualified above the others to handle power of attorney responsibilities, the other children may feel slighted, emotionally hurt or angry. In such a case, you would be better off appointing an outside party, like a trusted friend or professional, to be a POA.

On the other hand, if no hostile family dynamics are involved, you still have to decide if your child is qualified to be a POA. Some children, even into their adult years, still have not mastered fiscal responsibilities and thus cannot be trusted with making financial decisions for others. Factors such as dependability and skills should also be taken into account. A person with good financial skills but is too naïve when it comes to legal matters might not be the best choice.

There is nothing wrong with choosing a son or daughter who is competent and trustworthy to receive a power of attorney, though anyone who is considering a child as a POA should be sure that no one else in the family will have problems with the decision.

This article is intended to educate readers on power of attorney issues and should not be taken as legal advice.

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