When working with clients as a Framingham will and trust lawyer, many of them are surprised to hear that they need to designate Powers of Attorney even if they are married. They assume their spouse can handle everything if something happens, but this is not usually the case.
With a Power of Attorney document in place, you appoint an “agent” who will make decisions and handle specific issues should you become unable to speak for yourself. A similar document, a Healthcare Proxy, allows a person of your choice to make medical decisions if you cannot communicate.
Privacy laws mean that companies and institutions cannot speak to others about your affairs without explicit permission and normally this rule extends to your spouse.
If you don’t have a Power of Attorney in place and your spouse becomes incapacitated, you could be barred from making decisions for him or her or managing his or her affairs.
That means if you needed to sell or transfer joint property, you might have to wait to petition the court to be appointed as your spouse’s conservator.
Furthermore, a lack of Power of Attorney means you may not be able to request, change, or stop any kind of retirement benefits, set up any kind of long-term care, or be involved with healthcare decision-making.
If you do not have a Healthcare Directive in place and something happens to you or your spouse, it can take several months to complete the guardianship proceedings for the right to take over control.
I recommend that everyone over 18-years-old have a well-drafted Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy in place, so your Agent will immediately be able to act on your behalf during an emergency.
With so many important issues to consider, it’s best to work with a qualified Framingham will and trust lawyer when planning your estate. To schedule a consultation, call our office at (508) 532-8689 today.
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Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.