Does the oldest child automatically become power of attorney if the parent can't name one?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 16, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

If someone doesn't have power of attorney and can't name one is the oldest child placed as power of attorney?


Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

No.

A person who makes a power of attorney is free to choose any person he or she trusts to act as an agent in a power of attorney. But the important things to keep in mind are that a person who makes a power of attorney is free to choose the agent; no one automatically gets the job.

Sometimes, parents want to make a power of attorney to arrange for overseeing medical care or finances or both, but get stuck about which of their children to name as agent. If this is the case in your family, there are several options.

One might be to name someone outside the family"”a trusted friend or relative.

Another might be to divvy up estate planning roles among the children"”naming one as agent in a power of attorney for healthcare, another as agent in a power of attorney for finances, a third as executor of a will.

A third but usually less desirable solution may be to name one or more agents to act jointly"”although this can often complicate matters, as all named must agree on the actions to be taken.