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Your Power of Attorney: How Powerful Is It?

Power of attorney (POA) documents are essential to a successful legal proceeding. If there comes a time when you or your senior loved one becomes unable to manage your finances or make healthcare decisions, having your documents in order will save you a great deal of hassle. Beware if you rely only on POAs that hospitals provide, those pulled off the internet, or received from attorneys who don’t focus specifically on elder law. When an emergency arises, the bank or healthcare provider may refuse to allow your agent to act – and the only recourse is to go to court for guardianship.

Why Should You Avoid Guardianship?

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, having to seek guardianship involves court proceedings that cost time and money. They also expose your private affairs to the public, and you or an aging parent can lose control of your autonomy. Worst case, unfriendly family members can try to take advantage of a helpless senior, and it can cause tremendous anxiety and expense to defend against that threat.

Customized Powers of Attorney

Many things can potentially go wrong, which is why customized POAs for financial and healthcare matters can range from just a few pages up to around fifty. Details help to anticipate as many nuances as possible, ensuring that when you need assistance, your documents will be there to avoid guardianships, and access financial resources for the healthcare treatment you need.

POAs Vary by State

If you have a financial or healthcare POA and move to another state, it will not protect you in the state you currently reside in. You must have it reviewed to ensure it contains the necessary details and complies with state laws. Reasons your POA can fail you in a time of need:

  • The document fails to specify the kind of health care you would want in specific circumstances
  • It doesn’t comply with your state laws, meaning it won’t hold up in court or aid financial or medical professionals
  • It is unable to protect your named agent from liability for a bad decision
  • It won’t provide your agent with access to essential financial or medical records
  • It doesn’t contain the full name of the person you designate to serve as an agent

Reach out to our office to make certain your healthcare documents and financial POAs are designed to work when you need them. You don’t want to be disappointed in a crisis involving incapacitation by accident, illness, or the complications of aging. Prepare yourself or a loved one before an emergency whenever possible. If you find yourself in a crisis, seek guidance regarding the guardianship process to ensure it goes smoothly. You may need help gathering medical records, submitting the paperwork, and scheduling your case. An elder law attorney or estate planning attorney will handle these things and represent you in court.

Check your POAs to see whether they do all of the above – and if not, come see us.

For more information and further inquiries about your personal situation, please contact our office at (603) 770-9135.

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