By: Barry M. Weiner Attorney at Law
If you think you can just take over that job, sadly you are mistaken. So how can you unable to manage their affairs due to aging, sickness or accident? If a person is married, no one but a spouse has authority to act on another person’s behalf and there are limits to what a spouse can do as well.
When a client’s father had a stroke, she found that she could not legally access his checking account, admit him to a nursing home or sell his home, among other things. Merely signing his name on checks or other documents is considered forgery and is illegal. Such actions could create many problems between family members as well.
Since her dad was already incapacitated, my client had to initiate a legal proceeding to though it was simple and uncontested, the proceeding was costly, time consuming and stressful. This simple proceeding took several months and cost thousands of dollars during which time she could not act on her father’s behalf and his home and stock portfolio, which she could not access, lost considerable value. This terrible situation can be easily avoided with common sense planning and foresight. The solution is to have your loved one execute a document known as a durable power of attorney before they become incapacitated. Once a person becomes incapacitated it is too late for them to execute this extremely valuable and important document. A durable power of attorney appoints an agent who is authorized to pay bills, cash checks, sell property, invest money and perform many other acts on behalf of the person that has chosen that has signed the document. You don’t need court approval to have one and it is not necessary to transfer title to assets, although, with this document you can legally do so, should it be needed.
There are different types of powers of attorney. A durable power of attorney is effective immediately upon proper execution and remains in force until the death of the person who signed it. This is recommended for individuals who feel they need help in managing their affairs due to aging or illness.
A durable power of attorney is a powerful document that can prevent many potential complications and expenses by assuring that someone trusted by the person needing help is handling their finances and personal affairs in a way they require and prefer.
It is an easy and cost effective way to avoid a costly and time consuming court proceedings to be appointed guardian or conservator by the court. However, it must be done while a person is of sound mind. So please consider before you think they may need it. Doing so will certainly make things less stressful when it is needed and will help preserve the assets of the person needing it for you and yours.
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