This is the second of three blogs (yesterday, today and tomorrow) in which I will discuss the ‘power’ of this important document. I hope you find it helpful.
Having covered the explanation of what a durable power of attorney is, let's look at the top 10 benefits of having a comprehensive durable power of attorney. (5 in today's blog today and 5 in tomorrows blog)
1. Provides the ability to choose who will make decisions for you (rather than a court).
If someone has signed a power of attorney and later becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions, the attorney-in-fact named can step into the shoes of the incapacitated person and make important financial decisions. Without a power of attorney, a guardianship or conservatorship may need to be established, and can be very expensive.
2. Avoids the necessity of a conservatorship.
Someone who does not have a comprehensive power of attorney at the time they become incapacitated would have no alternative than to have someone else petition the court to appoint a conservator (a guardian is appointed to make healthcare decisions for the incapacitated person in Virginia). The court will choose who is appointed to manage the financial of the incapacitated person, and the court will continue to monitor the situation as long as the incapacitated person is alive. While not only a costly process, another detriment is the fact that the incapacitated person has no input on who will be appointed to serve.
3. Provides family members a good opportunity to discuss wishes and desires.
There is much thought and consideration that goes into the creation of a comprehensive power of attorney. One of the most important decisions is who will serve as the attorney-in-fact. When a parent or loved one makes the decision to sign a power of attorney, it is a good opportunity for the parent to discuss wishes and expectations with the family and, in particular, the person named as attorney-in-fact in the power of attorney.
4. The more comprehensive the power of attorney, the better.
As people age, their needs change and their power of attorney should reflect that. Seniors have concerns about long term care, applying for government benefits to pay for care, as well as choosing the proper care providers. Without allowing the attorney-in-fact to perform these tasks and more, precious time and money may be wasted.
5. Prevents questions about principal's intent.
Many of us have read about court battles over a person's intent once that person has become incapacitated. A well-drafted power of attorney, along with other health care directives, can eliminate the need for family members to argue or disagree over a loved one's wishes. Once written down, this document is excellent evidence of their intent and is difficult to dispute.
Part III is tomorrow's blog.