Many don’t feel a sense of urgency to put important estate-planning tools into place, such as a Durable and Medical Power of Attorney. However once you or someone you know has a situation where they needed a POA or had a POA that was poorly drafted, you will quickly develop that sense of urgency. We run across that situation far too many times in our practice and hope you will heed the warning to meet with an Elder Law attorney sooner rather than later to discuss these important documents, as well as other documents that are important to your estate planning and protection of your assets.
A client named Sarah learned about the importance of having comprehensive estate planning and Power of Attorneys in place the hard way. Sarah had been happily married to her spouse for over ten years when he suffered a number of significant health care crises in a short period of time. These crises rendered Sarah unable to care for her spouse, Walter, at home and after he left the hospital he was admitted to a skilled nursing facility. Prior to his marriage to Sarah, Walter had executed a Medical Power of Attorney giving authority to his adult sibling, Jean, to make medical decisions on his behalf if he became unable to do so. After Sarah and Walter married, they visited an attorney that updated their wills and did a statutory power of attorney, but no other estate planning documents. Because Walter had not updated his Medical POA, nor revoked the Medical POA granted to his sister Jean, even though he was married to his spouse Sarah, it was Jean that the medical care providers had to ask for medical decisions. This turned into a conflict between Jean and Sarah and the situation escalated quickly. Sarah found herself in the position of not being able to make medical decisions for her spouse, not being able to provide for his financial affairs or get him qualified for Medicaid which he desperately needed and the stress of the situation took away from her ability to provide Walter with the love and support that she as his wife wanted to provide. We were able to help Sarah right this situation, however it was a lengthy and expensive process that could have been easily avoided by a visit to an Elder Law attorney that would have discussed the importance of having appropriate estate planning documents in place.
Sarah experienced what so many of our clients experience: an unexpected health crisis, which turns into a housing crisis after that individual cannot return to their home, which turns into a financial crisis when that family realizes the cost of a long-term care facility is upwards of $4,500.00 per month. We assist clients everyday that find themselves in this type of urgent situation, however with some planning in advance, an Elder Law attorney can make the best plan to provide protection for your assets and your legacy.