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A Power of Attorney is Important Before You Need It

EstPlan_4.23.20

Are you responsible for parents or other seniors in your family?  Or, for that matter, do you know what happens if you’re involved in a car accident or other sudden illness?  An individual can become incompetent or incapacitated at any age, especially after an accident or illness.  Many seniors face cognitive decline, disability, Alzheimer’s or dementia and family members are often the primary care givers and decision makers, taking care of your financial, day-to-day living, and medical decisions.  But, if you wait until after an accident or diagnosis, it may be hard to legally execute the documents needed, to ensure loved ones are properly cared for and financial matters handled.  Here are some reasons why it’s important to have a Power of Attorney before you need it.

Power of Attorney Versus Guardianship

A Power of Attorney is simply a document that appoints a person to make financial or healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.  A person must execute their Power of Attorney while they are sound of mind.  Guardianship involves a much greater loss of freedom and rights. Guardianship involves the court giving legal decision making powers, including financial, medical, and living decisions, to another party. This involves stripping the “ward” of many of their civil rights. Guardianships are often necessary and in the best interests of seniors, but sometimes guardianships are established by people that don’t have your best interests at heart.  This is why a Power of Attorney is important before you need it, as it helps to prevent the wrong person from petitioning the court for guardianship and ensures that your affairs are handled by those you know and trust.

Why You Should Include Power of Attorney in Your Estate Plan

There are many reasons why a power of attorney or powers of attorney are a safe plan.. Below are some of the main reasons why you should create a power of attorney now, while you are healthy and of sound mind, before you need it:

  • Protect against elder financial fraud;
  • Ensure that sound medical and living decisions are made for you;
  • Keep many of your civil rights;
  • Ensure that you live where you want to by choosing a power of attorney you trust and have spoken with;
  • You have the ability to talk with your chosen power of attorney about your wishes, such as end of life care, DNR orders, palliative care, or other medical decisions so that they are not left guessing; and
  • Ensure that you do not become a ward of the state by a predatory guardianship company.

Reach Out to Our Experienced Maryland Estate Planning Attorneys Today

It may seem unnecessary to have a Power of Attorney, particularly if you are young but illness and accidents befall us all, and this important legal document could mean the difference between your final years being content and peaceful, versus anxiety driven. For more information, call the Maryland estate planning lawyers at Frame & Frame today at 410-255-0373 to schedule a free telephone consultation.  We believe in helping people with thoughtful planning, guidance during times of crises, and creating a clear path for life’s legal journeys.

Resources:

newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/09/how-the-elderly-lose-their-rights

aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2019/cfpb-report-financial-elder-abuse.html

http://frameandframe.wpengine.com/why-powers-of-attorney-are-necessary-in-a-crisis/

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