Is Your Power of Attorney Ready in Case of an Emergency?

Is Your Power of Attorney Ready in Case of an Emergency? Image

Strong “power of attorney” (POA) documents are vital, especially if a time comes when you or your elder become unable to manage your finances or make health-care decisions.


Beware if you rely only on POAs that hospitals provide, or that you have pulled off the Internet, or that you have got from other attorneys who do not focus their practice specifically on elder law. When an emergency arises, the bank or health-care provider may refuse to allow your agent to act – and then the only recourse is to go to court and get a guardianship. 


This is definitely not what you want to hear in an emergency. Guardianship proceedings cost time and money, they expose your private affairs to the public, and you or your elder can lose control of your autonomy. Worst case, unfriendly family-members can try to take advantage of a helpless elder, and it can cost tremendous anxiety and expense to defend against that threat.


This is why our POAs for financial and health-care matters total around fifty pages. We want to help to anticipate as many nuances as possible, to ensure that when you need assistance, your documents will be there to avoid guardianships and to help you get the responsible financial coverage and health-care treatment you need.


A client came in recently with a health-care POA from another state. She wanted to know whether it would do the job for her father. We said emphatically “no.”


–   The document failed to specify the kind of health-care the father would want; and


–   It failed to comply with our state law, meaning that it likely wouldn’t work here; and


–   It failed to protect the father’s agent from liability for a bad decision; and


–   It failed to provide the agent with access to essential medical records; and


–   It even failed to designate who should serve as an agent! 


At Estate & Elder Law Services, we prepare powers of attorney for clients and guide them through the process of planning for decision-making in the event they become incapacitated or incompetent. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your particular needs. Please contact our office at  302.651.0113