We regularly stress the importance of the estate planning process. One of the most misunderstood estate planning tools is the Power of Attorney. Whether for medical or for finances, we come across a lot of clients who think the document governs after-death decisions- or gives them priority to act after death simply because they were named in a power of attorney. Conversely, we have the group that underestimate the importance of the document and its role in managing affairs in case of the “what if” situation.
In the case of the latter, let’s say the “what if” happens (i.e. coma, complications after routine surgery, unexpected illness, freak accident and subsequent rehabilitation period…), and your family member or friend is mentally or physically unable to make decisions for themselves or manage their affairs. What now? Will you be able to make care decisions? Will you be able to access bank accounts to ensure bills are paid? Will you be able to call their secondary insurer regarding benefits?
The failure to execute the appropriate documents if this situation arises will land a family member or friend in probate court seeking guardianship or conservatorship. These are very public proceedings, where health conditions and assets are shared with the court and discussed in open court at hearings. Regular filings are required and other sensitive information may be shared. If there is a dispute between two sides, the situation intensifies. We have seen families battle for years, lose relationships and accumulate tens of thousands of dollars in fees on these very issues- while their loved one is still living and in some cases, witnessing it all!
Don’t let this happen to you and your loved ones. Don’t miss the boat! Be proactive, protect your assets and as best as possible, be in control of your future- whether you are able to make decisions or not.
Call C&G to assist you today!!!
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