Burlington elder law lawyers can help with the creation of a power of attorney as a part of an incapacity plan. A power of attorney is one of the most important legal documents that you can create in order to protect yourself and in order to protect the people that you love from being put into a difficult situation if something happens to you. When you make a power of attorney, you give authority to someone who will act as your agent and who has a fiduciary duty to act on your behalf. That person can take control if you cannot manage your own affairs because of an illness or an injury.
Unfortunately, there are many situations where a person becomes incapacitated without having a power of attorney (POA) in place. People wait to create a POA because they think they’re young and invincible and that nothing will happen to them, because they think they have plenty of time before they will need one, or because they simply aren’t aware of the importance of making an incapacity plan. Many people also don’t like to think about what would happen if they became incapacitated, so they don’t plan ahead for this possibility.
If you become incapacitated either on a temporary or a permanent basis without a power of attorney in place, this can be a big problem for lots of different reasons. While there are legal processes in place to allow someone to take control over your decision-making if something happens to you and you can no longer act on your own accord, these processes are suboptimal.
The Law Offices of James A. Miller, P.C. can provide assistance to family members when someone becomes incapacitated without a power of attorney or other advanced plan and can also help clients to make their incapacity plans so their loved ones don’t end up in a very bad situation.
What if it is too Late for a Power of Attorney?
If a person becomes incapacitated due to physical or mental illness or injury and no incapacity plan is in place, it will be too late to create such a plan. A person cannot make a POA once he is already sick or too injured to make informed choices about who should act as his agent.
Of course, someone still needs to make decisions and manage the affairs of the person who is sick or hurt. Guardianship proceedings will need to be initiated in court. During these proceedings, the court must first determine that the incapacitated person is indeed unable to take action on his own. During a competency hearing, the court will consider evidence of incapacity. Sometimes, it is clear that a person cannot act on his own, but other times this is a more complicated question.
If the individual is declared incapacitated, he will become a ward and a guardian or conservator is named. The guardian or conservator will be put in charge of managing the ward’s affairs and will have a fiduciary duty to act in the ward’s best interests. The court will oversee the guardianship in order to ensure the guardian is fulfilling his obligations.
The uncertainty over who should act as guardian can cause delays in decisions being made. Family members may be uncertain as to who the incapacitated person would have preferred to act as guardian and what his wishes were. The incapacitated person will no longer be able to weigh in on who should act for him. In all of these ways, the incapacitated person and his family are in a much worse position because no incapacity plan was created and no power of attorney was in effect.
Getting Help from Burlington Elder Law Lawyers
Burlington elder law lawyers will work with you to make a power of attorney before something happens to you and you become unexpectedly incapacitated. We will assist in choosing an agent and making a legally valid POA so you determine who acts on your behalf and so your family avoids fighting and confusion.
If it is too late for a power of attorney, we provide help to family members with guardianship or conservatorship so those who need to take control over an incapacitated loved one’s affairs can get that control as easily as possible and as quickly as possible.
To find out more about the many ways in which our firm assists with legal issues related to incapacity, join us for a free seminar. You can also give us a call at 508-799-8885 or contact us online to get personalized advice today.