Yes, a big part of estate planning may be about how you want your property to transfer and who you want it to go to after you pass away. Another critical part of estate planning, however, involves putting legal tools in place that protect you and your wishes while you are still alive. Health care and financial documents, in particular, can be important to put in place for these purposes. If you have aging parents, for instance, you may have seen how much our needs can increase as we age. Your parents may have come to rely on you more and moreover the years. Because of how reliant we can become as we age, it is important to put important legal tools in place, such as a durable power of attorney, as soon as possible.
The Importance of a Durable Power of Attorney for Aging Parents
It can be difficult to watch, but aging parents tend to have increasing needs as the years go by. At one point, they may need assistance managing things such as their healthcare, legal, and financial needs. In order to be able to help them with these things, however, you must be properly authorized. This can be done by executing a durable power of attorney.
With a durable power of attorney, the principal executed the power of attorney to grant authority to the agent so that the agent can act on behalf of the principal. A power of attorney can be broad in scope or narrowly tailored. It can empower an agent to act on behalf of the agent in terms of legal, financial, and health care issues. It can empower the agent to act on some of these issues or all of these issues. The durability feature, however, is important as it means that the power granted pursuant to the power of attorney remains effective even in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated.
The fact that a durable power of attorney survives incapacitation of the principal is an important one. With a durable power of attorney in place, your parents can get assistance while they still have capacity and, should their conditions worsen to the point of incapacitation, the agent will remain empowered to carry on managing their affairs. Without a durable power of attorney in place, should your parents become incapacitated, guardianship will need to be established. In a guardianship, a court deems an adult of any age incapacitated and appoints either a professional or a relative to serve as guardian. The guardian will be responsible for making certain decisions on behalf of the incapacitated adult.
Guardianships, however, can be unduly restrictive and significantly limit a person’s ability to live independently. It can also be a stressful and time-consuming process, not to mention an expensive one. Furthermore, it can result in undue delays in managing your parents’ affairs as you await a guardianship appointment.
Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning is too important to delay! Talk to the knowledgeable estate planning team at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace about your options. Contact us today.