If you are getting ready to retire, you know that there are lots of things to consider.
Do you want (or need) to move? Will you be staying in the same town? Does a different state offer a better tax environment? Will your finances allow you to do the things you had planned? How will you invest your assets to make the most of your retirement funds?
As a lawyer, I can’t really help with a lot of these questions. But there is one thing that most people don’t think about when they are planning to retire and that is something I CAN help you with.
Everyone who is thinking about retirement should think about executing a General Durable Power of Attorney.
The excuse of ‘I still have lots of time’ just isn’t valid anymore. If you are getting ready to retire, you need to start thinking about what is going to be happening in this last phase of your life.
Someone asked me recently what was the one biggest mistake people make regarding elder law. The answer was easy, that mistake is not doing the Power of Attorney early enough!
A Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone else to make decisions for you… to make sure your bills are paid….and to make sure that your financial life is going the way you want. A Power of Attorney can allow someone else to make the needed decision about where you will live if you are not able to make that decision yourself, and to sign the entry forms for assisted living or a nursing home on your behalf.
A Power of Attorney can also eliminate the need for a court to order a guardian or conservator. And, if there is a situation where the court really needs to make that decision, the Power of Attorney tells the court the name of the person that you wanted to hold that position.
The agent under the Power of Attorney has to make decisions and take actions that are in your best interest, and while you are able to keep an eye on things, there should not be a problem with what is being done. If you don’t like the way your agent is taking care of your affairs, and you are still competent, you have the right to rescind the Power of Attorney.
The big problem is that the Power of Attorney must be established while you are still competent and capable of making that decision.
I have adult children come into my office frequently saying that they need a Power of Attorney because their Mom or Dad has dementia and is no longer able to care for themselves. It is very sad when I need to tell them that it is too late.
If Mom or Dad is already suffering from dementia, it is very possible that they are not sufficiently competent to execute the Power of Attorney themselves. So, instead of a relatively inexpensive process to draft and execute the Power of Attorney, the family is faced with the more expensive and longer process of filing a lawsuit to establish the guardian and/or conservator for the elderly parent.
The parent who is already confused and frustrated by their condition now needs to face a hearing before a judge who will tell them that they are not competent to take care of themselves. This is often a very sad, but necessary step in the lives of the elderly.
It could be fixed with proper planning that includes the establishment of a General Durable Power of Attorney.
So, while you are making all of your other retirement plans, be sure to add an appointment with an Elder Law Attorney to review your situation and find out if you have the proper estate planning documents in place.
If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.