|Barbara K. Armstrong|
I wanted to write a little bit about the importance of having a durable financial power of attorney and medical directive. A week doesn’t go by when I do not receive a call from a frantic spouse, child or family member, who is concerned that a family member has become incapable of making decisions for himself (herself). They can’t assist in taking care of the bills, assist in making medical decision, etc. At this point, it may be too late for the incapacitated adult to sign a power of attorney and/or medical directive and a guardian/conservator will have to be appointed. This process can take months to finalize as there are many steps involved. Then there is the cost associated with attorney’s fees for filing the petition and various documents with the court and the fees for the guardian ad litem that is appointed by the Court for the incapacitated individual.
There is much more involved with the establishment of a guardian and/or conservator which not only is not only expensive, it can be intrusive in the lives of all that are affected in the process.
I cannot begin to tell you how important it is to have a power of attorney and medical directive in place. A power of attorney authorizes a trusted individual to take care of any financial affairs of the incapacitated individual and the medical directive allows for an appointed agent to assist in making medical care decisions in the event that an individual cannot make those choices for himself (herself).
The most common reasons I hear for not having these documents in place are:
- Too expensive;
- Haven’t gotten around to it;
- Not sure I can trust anyone;
- I don’t need it.
Whatever reason you have for not having a power of attorney or medical directive in place is not a good one. Anyone over the age of 18 years should have such documents in place if they have the capacity to do so. If not, they are rolling the dice and gambling with who will take care of them in the event they are not able to make decisions for themselves any longer. So, if you do not have these documents in place, please contact us or another attorney to discuss. The process in establishing these documents is so much easier and less expensive than the process of court proceedings in establishing a guardianship/conservatorship. The choice is yours.