Over the past few months we have run into clients who never thought they would need a Power of Attorney (POA). Without notice, they found themselves with a family member in crisis and they were unable to act for the family member as they felt they needed. People should know age or perceived health were not really factors either.
One client was a nurse whose husband suffered an aneurism in his brain. He was in his 40's and had some medical issues but leading a normal life. He collapsed one night and spent several weeks in a coma. When he came out of it, he was unable to communicate. She did not have a POA. Throughout the worst times, the client was unable to access health insurance records and medical records due to HIPPA and lacking a POA. Other basic decisions became harder to execute. Fortunately, he worked his way back to be able to grant a POA a couple months after the event.
Another client found herself trying to care for one parent with severe Alzheimer's Disease after the other parent died. The parents only gave POA's to each other. Fortunately, the ill parent was already in a care facility. The main problem was paying for it. All the parent's money was instantly locked up because the only person authorizes to make decisions just passed and the living parent had no capacity to make decisions. At that point, the only way to gain authority to make decisions for the court to appoint an guardian for the parent.
The legal cost for appointing a guardian was thousands of dollars. Depending on the law firm and the complexity of the POA, a POA would have cost between $100 - $1,000; well below the thousands needed for the guardianship action. Also, my client had to advance the costs of the care facility, which was 10's of thousands, until the court granted my client the authority to recover her money from her parent's accounts.
While a POA may not avoid all needs for a guardianship proceeding, it definitely can make the transition easier and can lessen the stress and urgency of the matter. Also, a POA may never be used. But when you need it, you really need it and it is too late then if you don't have it. Prevent making a family crisis worse. Talk to an attorney about this vital legal tool; a Power of Attorney.
If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at www.whhmlaw.com.
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