What is a Power of Attorney? Sometimes it’s called a Financial Power of Attorney. It’s a document that gives authority to your named Agent to act for you in various situations. That may be paying your bills, accessing your bank accounts, closing your accounts, or even selling your residence.
Have you named a successor Agent? Maybe you named your spouse or your oldest child as your Agent, but what if that person cannot act for you. Have you named an alternate so that you have some back-up?
Is your power of attorney elder law friendly? An example of the importance of this is whether your Agent can protect your assets and get you onto government benefits such as Medi-Cal if you need assistance at home or you want Medi-Cal to pay for your nursing home costs. It’s not just a matter of the application, but also allowing transfers of assets for eligibility for those benefits, and protection against the state placing a lien on those assets for repayment to the state. These are critical issues for many elders, and the lack of a power of attorney, or having the wrong power of attorney, can prohibit your family from taking the necessary actions to protect you and your loved ones.
I have seen many individuals and families face financial hardship because a proper power of attorney was not in place. Getting a good power of attorney is not difficult. Not having the right one in place when you need it can be devastating.
Every adult should have the right kind of power of attorney in place and have the best Agent and successor Agent available to take action to help them. It’s one of the most important documents that a person can have. If you don’t have a durable power of attorney in place, get one. If you have one, make sure that it is detailed enough to allow your Agent to take the necessary actions that may be needed to protect you, to care for you, and to protect your assets for the benefit of yourself and your family.