Power Of Attorney

Are you getting ready to retire? A pivotal stage in life is the point at which we prepare for retirement. It is a good time to take a look at your assets, make decisions about investments, pensions, and retirement accounts, and to ensure that your affairs are in order.

Setting up or updating an estate plan should be an integral part of this process. Not only for determining who your assets should go to after you pass but just as importantly, to make sure you are protected during the remainder of your life. Have you planned for your own incapacity – for who you want to take care of you and prevent any hassle or harm as you enjoy the rest of your days?

Take Jim and Debbie, who thought they had everything accounted for. They had planned for their retirement and had adequate assets, and they even had Wills drafted. Unfortunately, a Will only comes into effect once a person passes, and not before then. Jim generally took care of everything, but after he passed away, Debbie began to struggle. Soon enough, it was clear that her capacity was dwindling, and she could not take care of herself. Her children were at odds about what to do and could not agree. Moreover, none of them had the right to make decisions about what to do with Debbie or her assets.

After petitioning the court for a Conservatorship over both her and her assets, fighting through a battle to determine who should be appointed, and incurring attorney fees and court costs, her daughter was eventually appointed and was able to begin making decisions for her care. Unfortunately, Debbie had wanted to live with her son and daughter-in-law, who had agreed early on to manage her care and who had specifically set up an attached mother-in-law unit in their own home. They also had two children that Debbie adored spending time with. Jim and Debbie had ensured that their assets would be enough to cover any needed in-home care to assist and prevent harm, while still allowing her the quality of life she desired. Her daughter, instead, placed her in a home where she was unhappy and uncomfortable, and far from those who wanted to visit frequently. Debbie’s health rapidly deteriorated, along with the relationship between the siblings, which was further exacerbated by the probate matter to finalize the distribution of Jim and Debbie’s remaining assets after she eventually passed.

While this particular story is a difficult one, it didn’t need to be. Had Jim and Debbie put an estate plan in place to document their wishes for incapacity care and power of attorney, the outcome could have been entirely different. Debbie could have lived her remaining years amongst loved ones and the relationship between siblings could have remained intact.

Duncan Law | Duncan Tax offers a complimentary one-hour consultation for all new clients to discuss your estate planning needs. Contact our estate planning department for an appointment.

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