Changes in your family can mean changes to your power of attorney

People like to say that family is forever, but families do change over time. The relationship that you have with someone at one point in your life may be drastically different only a few decades later. How you feel about siblings, spouses, parents and cousins can change and evolve over the years.

It is hard to predict how bonds with your loved ones will fluctuate and grow over time. That is one of the reasons why it is wise for people to regularly revisit their last will. However, that isn't the only document you may need to change when your family relationships change. You also need to look into updating your power of attorney to reflect your new family situation when relationships change.

You need someone capable of fulfilling important legal duties

Life circumstances can change the relationship you have with your family and faith in their ability to serve overall in your estate plan. You could find yourself uncertain of someone's ability to fulfill the role you previously assigned to them for a variety of reasons.

The person you name in your power of attorney documents will have to make educated decisions about your financial or medical situation based both on what is right for you and on the wishes that you have explicitly left behind in your estate plan. If the person you initially chose as power of attorney has experienced any of the following, you need to name someone new:

  • A period of medical or cognitive decline
  • If they have developed a serious addiction
  • Or if they are otherwise no longer able to fulfill the duties that would be necessary if you are unable to provide them yourself

Former spouses and estranged family members shouldn't hold legal authority

Except in rare circumstances, it is most likely not in your best interest to name someone from whom you are estranged as your power of attorney. If your relationship feels strained or negative, that individual could use that authority to harm you or your estate. They could also fail to fulfill their obligations at all, which could leave you vulnerable.

Even if you are on good terms with a former spouse, it may be better to name someone who has a more neutral relationship with you as your power of attorney in the event that something does happen to you.

Finally, when someone unexpectedly passes on, you will need to replace them in your power of attorney documents. Failing to do so could leave you without adequate protection when you need it the most. You need to know that there is someone willing and able to handle your major medical decisions and financial affairs if you can't assert yourself or communicate your wishes.

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