Why is a Power of Attorney So Important?

It is painful to witness the effects of dementia on a spouse, parent, or anyone you care about. I often meet with a spouse or child who is further stressed by not having a power of attorney for this person. Planning for disability or death is low priority or even non-existent on our daily list of tasks. But ignoring this planning will cause your loved ones time, stress, and cash. A general durable power of attorney is a simple yet critical document that everyone needs.

A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to handle your affairs. I tell my clients that when drafted broadly enough, it allows someone to do almost everything that you could do for yourself. It is critical to name successor agents, consider whether it should be effective immediately or only at disability, and include the powers you would want your agent to have.

Those who ignore this important planning will add to the stress of a loved one in their time of need. The time of need could be a coma following a car accident or an elderly person who develops dementia. If there is no power of attorney, someone will have to petition the court for the authority to act for the injured or incapacitated person. This adds stress, delays the ability to make decisions or access funds, and costs money. Going through a formal court process when your family is coping with your injury or your cognitive decline, is avoidable. Be sure to seek legal advice about preparing a general durable power of attorney that is right for you.

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