Recently, our office received a call from a prospective client inquiring whether a Power of Attorney (“POA”) could be obtained for a close family member. Said family member had suddenly ended up in the hospital and appeared to be suffering from an impaired mental capacity. During these circumstances, it is not recommended to have an individual attempt to sign a POA due to the convalescent’s current mental status.
This is not the first time our office has received this type of call. It is challenging to inform a prospective client that, at this point in time, there may be no other options but to just wait. Due to the specific circumstances, the best course of action would be to obtain relief from the court or apply to become a loved one’s guardian.
But why do people wait to establish an estate plan?
Everyone, above the age of twenty-one (21), should consider, in the event of becoming incapacitated or passing away, who would they like to designate as a guardian to, among other things: (i) take care of them, (ii) make health care decisions for them, (iii) make financial decisions for them, (iv) manage personal and/or real property, and/or (v) care for a mentally or physically incapacitated loved one. It may seem morbid or premature to think about mortality at the age of twenty-one (21) but there are certainly some milestones in everyone’s lifetime where, without a doubt, estate planning should be thought of, such as when (i) becoming a parent, (ii) getting married or in a committed long-term relationship, (iii) retiring, (iv) separating from your spouse; (v) working in a high-risk profession or field, or (vi) turning sixty (60) or over. In any of these situations, an individual should have in place a POA, Health Care Proxy, Living Will and/or a Will. Also, depending on a person’s asset value, they, or their guardian, as in the case of famous minors, may even consider creating a trust for tax savings and asset protection purposes.
Having an estate plan in place gives a person control over decisions that will need to be made on their behalf when they cannot make them. It is best to make these decisions in advance, with time to ponder over them, and carefully deciding how your decisions should come to fruition.
If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact our office.
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