Q: My dad is very ill and is not in his right mind. I have been trying to handle his affairs because my mom is no longer around, but I was told by the bank I need authorization to do so because I am not on his accounts. I can just get durable power of attorney over him to handle things going forward, right?
A: WRONG! LET’S BUST THIS MYTH!!! A durable power of attorney is a PLANNING tool, which operates in the event you become incapacitated. It gives someone you designate the power to act on your behalf. In order for it to be valid and withstand any potential challenges, the person making the designation MUST be of sound mind. This is one of the principle reasons witnesses are required by law- to verify that the person making the designation is fully aware of the choice that they are making. So, if your dad is no longer of sound mind, he cannot execute a durable power of attorney for you to act on his behalf.
Q: What are my options?!?
A: Your only option now is to petition the court for conservatorship. You will have to file a petition, obtain physician’s statements, appear in court and submit an annual detailed accounting of every transaction you conduct for your dad. This is a public proceeding that cannot be avoided if you have not been previously properly designated by your dad to handle his financial matters on his behalf. If you have not previously been designated and have no order from the court granting you this authority, you will not be allowed to handle these matters and your dad’s finances will be negatively impacted, as they will not be managed.
Scary situation to be in, right? Of course! And we see it much more often than we would like. This is why it is SO important to have a complete estate plan prepared. An estate plan consists of multiple documents-powers of attorney being one of them- that ensures the carrying out of your wishes and peace of mind for your loved ones. Be proactive to avoid being in this situation!! Contact us today to assist you in this critical process!
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