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Build backup plans into your power of attorney

Your estate plan will designate a person (an "agent") who will exercise power of attorney when you can't manage your own affairs. Their job will be to handle your finances and make other important decisions on your behalf.

From celebrity news or even unfortunate situations among your own family or friends, you're probably aware that agents are sometimes challenged by relatives, and often for good reason.

But even for ethical and diligent agents, problems can arise.

Sometimes, agents with powers of attorney have trouble accessing funds needed to conduct legitimate business. Many banks are very strict about accepting claims of agency due to the high rates of elder financial exploitation.

Trust matters but building a sturdy plan is just as important.

Consult your banks and brokers

Financial institutions know their responsibility to guard your money. Reach out to them and ask how they'll acknowledge your chosen agent while staying vigilant.

Choose multiple agents

Two agents can watch each other, especially if they can both access account reports. On the other hand, more people may mean more arguments, bad feelings, or even lawsuits. Also, it only takes two to collude.

Include your intentions and principles in your power of attorney

While writing your power of attorney, include a general statement of what you want done and when. This may prove to be a valuable guide for your agent, help prevent and settle disputes, and provide valuable evidence in case lawsuits break out.

All of these issues, which you can read more about here, involve legally and emotionally challenging decisions. A good estate planning attorney will help you think clearly about making the right moves.

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