Call Manor Country Club to sign up 301-929-1700
PLANNING AHEAD, JUST IN CASE…
**** Hopefully you won’t caught in a downpour when rain is not even predicted, but just in case, don’t you have an umbrella in your car?
**** Hopefully, you won’t ever get in a car accident, and your car is totaled, but just in case don’t you have car insurance to cover that kind of loss?
**** Here’s another scenario…hopefully, you have will never be in a situation where you –- or a loved one — are unable to maintain control of your finances or medical care… but just in case that happens, do you have the proper documents in place to ensure that your priorities and preferences are handled as you would want them to be???
THINK ABOUT THESE FACTS:
Just as you cannot see your college student’s grades unless your child authorizes you to do so, if your child or spouse is in an accident, ill or otherwise unable to take care of their own affairs temporarily or permanently, and you do not have the proper legal paperwork in place, you do not have the legal authority to assist them with ongoing financial matters or consent to or advocate for medical treatment on their behalf.
No one has the legal authority to act for (on behalf of), someone else who is over the age of 18, unless they have properly executed, notarized and witnessed Financial and Medical Powers of Attorney (POA).
Simple POA forms can keep your family from a mountain of costs, legal hassles, and probable delays (both medical and financial), and all most likely at a time when you might be in a situation of emotional turmoil.
If you do not have proper POA’s in place and a situation would arise where you were unable to comprehend (i.e., incapacitated), or speak for yourself in important matters, the only option available to your loved ones to support your needs as best as they can is this:
Obtain the legal authority to act on your behalf by filing a Petition for Guardianship of the Person and/or Property with the Circuit Court, which is a long and expensive process. Generally, this kind of process costs in excess of $10,000 and can take up to 12 months to put in place.
LEGAL TERMS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Power of Attorney (POA). This is the authority to act for another person in specified legal or financial matters. A POA document that is executed correctly identifies the person(s) and situations where such authority is recognized. POA documents can be simple (aka “short” or “personal”), or they can be longer documents, depending on your situation. These documents are effective when they are signed, and would be in effect until your death.
Financial Power of Attorney. This document is effective when it is signed, unless you wish to add a condition of your incapacity as determined by a physician. This document would be in effect until your death. Note that in the State of Maryland, since 2010, there is a “statutory POA form” that – if you have executed it since 2010 – is accepted at all financial institutions in Maryland. There are generally two types of Financial POA:
the first is one of “convenience” that you should consider allows another person full and complete authority to act on your behalf on all financial matters at any time.
The second one is one that would take effect only if a doctor has determined that you are unable to make financial decisions independently.
If you have the first type in place, you would have no need for the second one; accordingly, you may choose to only have the second one in place.
Medical Power of Attorney. This document allows the medical community to communicate with the persons you have designated, and thus waives HIPAA (privacy) rights that doctors consent to keep medical information private under normal circumstances. Your designee would also be allowed to consent to treatment if you are unable or unconscious. This allows others you choose to be part of your health care team if you wish.
DO YOU KNOW WHO TO NAME AS YOUR POWER OF ATTORNEY?
You name the best person for each job. The Financial and Medical powers of attorney you name may be different people, as those roles require different skills. For example, Financial powers of attorney should be good at details, record keeping, follow through, etc., while Medical powers of attorney need to be able to deal with medical issues, hospitals, etc., or might need to consider that your religious beliefs are honored as best as possible. In all cases, choose people you trust. In addition, you should give them some idea about your wishes if they are not already aware of your philosophies on such matters, and you inform them that you have chosen them as your POA. Distance is not usually a big obstacle, as so much can be communicated and accomplished electronically, so even if the best person lives across country, you should still choose the best person!
Normally married people name their spouse and then alternate persons if possible. Single people name a family member or friend they trust implicitly and alternates as well.
LET’S WRAP THIS UP!
AGE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT! This is not something that is done only when we are “older”; just ask Lynn Pendleton, who has witnessed difficult client situations that could have been completely avoided if proper paperwork had been in place. Powers of attorney should be prepared before children leave for college, and/or when they turn 18!
MINIMIZE FAMILY CONFLICT. Obviously, it’s critical that you name trustworthy persons to act on your behalf, but better for you to name who you wish than to have your family possibly disagree about who that person should be, at a time when you are unable to participate in that discussion. Preserve family harmony as much as possible, and remain in charge of your destiny.
JUST DO IT! Putting off this decision does not make these issues go away! Get it done now, when Lynn is available for free legal advice, and notaries/witnesses can sign the appropriate forms. Failing to make a decision about POA’s is essentially deciding to let someone else decide for you by default. Just get it done, and you will sleep better once you do!