What happens if I do not have a power of attorney for property?
A Power of Attorney for Property is one of the most powerful Estate Planning tools available. A Power of Attorney for Property document is useful while an individual is still alive. Unlike a will, the terms of a Power of Attorney for Property document are not effective after you die. Instead, a Power of Attorney for Property document permits your loved ones to help you if you are unable to make financial or business decisions.
A Power of Attorney for Property is especially helpful in the case of an accident or an unexpected hospitalization. For example, a friend of our firm recently suffered a sudden cardiac event. Our friend was rushed to the hospital where her recovery was uncertain. She spent more than a week in the intensive care unit. Then, her condition required in-patient rehabilitation and many months of outpatient rehabilitation. Thankfully, our friend has experienced a full recovery. However, during this six-month medical crisis, she was physically and mentally unable to manage her home and her finances.
Fortunately, our friend had executed power of attorney documents as a part of her estate plan. Using the Power of Attorney for Property, her daughter was able to pay bills and deposit money received during this period. Her daughter seamlessly managed our friend’s financial affairs until our friend was back on her feet.
What would have happened if our friend did not have power of attorney documents? Her incapacitation was temporary, but it was total for nearly six months. During these two months, bills needed to be paid and businesses needed to be managed. Without the Power of Attorney for Property, her daughter would not have been able to handle these affairs. Instead, her daughter would need to obtain guardianship of her mother. Guardianship may only be obtained through a court proceeding. Even temporary guardianship requires a court hearing. This process if time consuming and expensive.
Potential for Exploitation
Financial exploitation is also a concern for any person who is disabled or elderly. There are many schemes directed at disabled and elderly adults. Deception and coercion are used to gain access to individuals and to gain their trust. If you have a Power of Attorney for Property, your agent can help you manage your finances if you become disabled. Your agent can also monitor your financial activity and help prevent exploitation.
Power of Attorney for Property documents are extremely valuable because they can be effectively established without the need for court involvement. Further, these simple documents can avoid the need to initiate a guardianship proceeding in the courts later in order to handle a medical emergency or sudden incapacity. When you or a family member is ill, the last thing that you want to worry about are court proceedings.
The experienced Chicago elder law attorneys at Hays Firm LLC have guided many individuals through the process of establishing Power of Attorney for Property documentation which allows our clients to focus on what is most important – their health and well-being. Please feel free to contact us anytime to discuss how we can help.