2. Understand how an attorney makes decisions
Question & AnswerDo I need a Power of Attorney for Property?
The law says your attorney has what are called “fiduciary duties” towards you. This means that your attorney must act in your best interests. And they must perform their duties honestly and carefully.
Your attorney is supposed to make decisions based on what’s called a “standard of care”. This means using a certain amount of caution and skill when doing their duties on your behalf.
Your attorney’s duties include:
- paying expenses needed for your support, education, and care
- paying expenses needed for the support, education, and care of any dependants you have, for example, children who are younger than 18
- making payments on that you owe, such as credit cards, taxes, loans, or mortgages
When making decisions, your attorney must also think about your personal care needs. This usually means that your attorney must manage your money in a way that’s consistent and respectful of decisions made about your personal care. Your attorney cannot make decisions based only on financial benefits and risks.
The one time this does not apply is if making a decision about your personal care would have significantly bad effects on your money and property. This could happen if the personal care you want costs more than you can afford.
Your attorney must also:
- keep records of anything they do with your money and property
- explain their duties to you
- help you take part in decisions about your property to the best of your ability
- help you keep in contact with supportive friends and family
- consult with friends, family, and personal care workers
- follow your will, if you have one