The focus of media coverage of wills and funeral arrangements for seniors is frequently about treachery and in-fighting by family and legal guardians. Sensational cases exist, but honorable arrangements for wills and funerals sets everyone at ease.
To clarify elder law issues, The HaddonfieldPatch, in New Jersey, recently set out the modern rules of powers of attorney.
1. A power of attorney is a good idea for older adults and empowers another person to manage a senior's general affairs.
2. A "durable" power of attorney is a legal document that "endures" and stays in place if the elder person becomes incapacitated.
3. Some states have a "springing" power of attorney. In this case, the document is not effective when signed, but "springs" into action upon the incapacity of the older person who made it.
4. There is a "general" and a "limited" power of attorney. A limited power of attorney can be limited for time and purpose.
5. A general power of attorney is given to an empowered individual with wide-ranging influence over the estate of the senior. The essential impediment to people with powers of attorney, is that they cannot rewrite a will at the behest of another.
6. A spouse does not have de facto power of attorney. Spouses are positioned to handle jointly-owned property, but they are unable to control solely-owned assets of the partner.
7. If a elder individual becomes incapacitated without a power of attorney - someone - usually a family member - will file a lawsuit requesting to be appointed as guardian. This process can be time-consuming and expensive.
The lesson is to make out a power of attorney before it is needed, thereby having a trusted person in place to handle all affairs, financial, legal, burial, etc.