Protect Yourself in Case of Incapacity

Have you thought about preparing a power of attorney document to give a family member or friend power to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to do so because of a disability?

Almost all of us have thought about the need to do advance medical directives because of the Terri Schiavo case. But have you thought about the need to prepare a power of attorney document, too, giving a trusted family member or friend the power to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to do so yourself because of a disability?

Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia all have statutory forms that are available free of charge online or at any library that has copies of state statutes.

Most estates and trusts practitioners recommend that you retain an attorney to customize such a document for you, however. But if you don't want to do that or don't have time, then just find a form online and get it done!

What items are often left out of the statutory forms? Medicaid planning powers, powers to handle your tax deferred accounts, powers to manage your digital assets, specific reference to your real property, and authority to continue any gifting program you have in place, to name just a few.

But a statutory form is better than no form at all because otherwise your loved ones will need to engage in the costly and time consuming effort of having a guardian or conservator named for you. This is a process that you really want to avoid because annual reports to the court are required documenting each and every expenditure, at a minimum.

Categories: Power of Attorney