Having talked about some of the basics of powers of attorney in the last post, let’s count down some of the top benefits of having a comprehensive power of attorney as part of your well-planned estate.
1. Avoid the necessity of a guardianship or conservatorship
Someone who does not have a comprehensive power of attorney at the time they become incapacitated would likely have no alternative other than to have someone else petition the court to appoint a guardian. The court will choose who is appointed to manage the financial and/or health affairs of the incapacitated person, and the court will continue to monitor the situation as long as the incapacitated person is alive. While not only a costly process, another detriment is the fact that the incapacitated person might not have input on who will be appointed to serve.
2. Provide family members a good opportunity to discuss wishes and desires
Much thought and consideration goes into the creation of a comprehensive power of attorney. One of the most important decisions is who will serve as the agent. When a parent or loved one makes the decision to sign a power of attorney, it is a good opportunity for the parent to discuss wishes and expectations with the family and, in particular, the person named as agent in the power of attorney.
3. Grant broad powers when appropriate
As people age, their needs change, and their power of attorney should reflect that. Seniors have concerns about long-term care, applying for government benefits to pay for care, as well as choosing the proper care providers. Without allowing the agent to perform these tasks and more, precious time and money may be wasted.
4. Prevents questions about principal’s intent.
Many of us have read about court battles over a person’s intent once that person has become incapacitated. A well-drafted power of attorney, along with other health care directives, can eliminate the need for family members to argue or disagree over a loved one’s wishes. Once written down, this document is excellent evidence of their intent and is difficult to dispute.
Stay tuned. I’ll share the five remaining top benefits later this week. In the meantime, if you’re ready to talk about how a comprehensive power of attorney fits into your overall estate plan, please talk to an estate-planning attorney.