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Five Power of Attorney Myths…

Five Power of Attorney Myths…

FIVE POWER OF ATTORNEY MYTHS

Powers of attorney are documents where a person names a person (their “attorney”) to make healthcare and financial decisions for them if they are incapacitated.  Such incapacity could be temporary or permanent.  Some powers of attorney are drafted so that a person gives another person power to do something because they cannot.  An example would be giving your adult child power of attorney to sign closing documents for the sale of your home because you live out of state.

Power of attorney lawyer O’Fallon, Missouri can help you draft these very important documents which are a cornerstone of any estate plan.

There are a few myths about these documents and here are five of them:

  1. Any Power of Attorney Form Will Work

The Web is an all too easy place to find a form for anything these days.  However, with a power of attorney, every state has different rules and statutes to make the document legally binding.  Forms online are often too general, do not contain details that are appropriate to your specific situation and are ambiguous.  An even bigger problem is that by the time you discover the form document you printed doesn’t work, it’s too late.  See below.

  1. You Can Sign a Power of Attorney At Any Time

Many people are unaware that you have to be mentally competent in order to create a power of attorney.  However, very often a person needs a power of attorney because they are no longer competent.

Unfortunately, if that person is incompetent, it’s too late anda court has to determine whether the person should have a guardian and/or conservator appointed.  It’s a much more dragged out process, it’s costly and can be challenged by others.

Bottomline, if someone you know is in need of a power of attorney, don’t wait.  Act quickly before they lose competence.

  1. A Durable Power of Attorney Is Still Valid After Death

A power of attorney allows a person to make decisions for another only as long as they are alive.  Once a person passes away powers of attorney are invalid.  At death, the operating documents are the person’s will and/or trust.

For a healthcare power of attorney O’Fallon, Missouri, the last thing the agent can do is arrange the cremation or burial wishes of the deceased.  This is called the Right of Sepulcher.

  1. A Power of Attorney Allows a Person to Do Whatever They Want

A person chosen to be a power of attorney has a fiduciary duty to the principal, the person who gave them authority.  That means they have to act in the principal’s best interests at all times, even if it’s not stated in the document, which it usually isn’t.

It’s important to note, however, that fiduciary duties are broken all the time.  Therefore, it’s important that a person choose a trustworthy individual to be there power of attorney.  It also helps to name someone who knows a bit about financial matters and you know will act and act properly.

  1. If You’re Married, Your Spouse Is Already Your Power of Attorney

When it comes to a power of attorney, being married doesn’t automatically make your spouse your agent.  That doesn’t mean they can’t be your power of attorney but they’ll need to be named so in the document, just like anyone else.  You’ll also need alternates in case you and your spouse are both incapacitated at the same time.

For healthcare decisions, if you don’t have a healthcare power of attorney, you spouse is considered your first next of kin and can make decisions above anyone else.  But the next of kin after your spouse may not be your choice, so it’s necessary to create a healthcare power of attorney.  In so doing, you’ll also create a much needed healthcare directive, sometimes referred to as a living will or advanced directive.  This document provides end of life instructions about medical treatment you either would or would not want to have withheld if a doctor determines it can’t heal you.

Legal Steps to Take After a Dementia Diagnosis….

Legal Steps to Take After a Dementia Diagnosis….

action plan

Legal Steps to Take After a Dementia Diagnosis….

Maria Shriver knows the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease firsthand. Her beloved father Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps and one-time candidate for Vice President of the United States, died of the disease in 2011 after being diagnosed in 2003.

Often called “the long goodbye,” Alzheimer’s disease affects more than five million Americans and its prevalence will continue to grow with the aging population. Shriver recently reported for NBC.com on the five things Alzheimer’s or dementia victims should do once a diagnosis has been confirmed:

1. Execute powers of attorney and advance medical directives. These allow for the designation of a trusted person or persons to make financial and medical decisions before cognitive impairments worsen.

2. Create a will. If you do not have a will that designates how your assets will be distributed upon your death, you need to create one. If one exists, check it over for any necessary updates to beneficiaries or the addition of any assets acquired after the original will was made.

3. Create an estate plan. Asset preservation is usually critical for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. An estate planning attorney can help preserve assets for future long-term care.

4. Communicate. Once diagnosed, you should have a conversation with your family about your decisions for your care. Let them know where important documents are stored. As part of your legacy planning, we can help you capture and pass on your own story and wishes for your loved ones through a special recording we provide for each of our clients.

5. Do it sooner rather than later. Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases are progressive illnesses, so prompt action is necessary to put these protections in place for you and your loved ones.

More information and inspiration on dealing with Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases can be found at MariaShriver.com.

Call our office to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about estate planning and allow us to identify the best ways for you to ensure a legacy of love and financial security for your family.