Elder law attorneys help protect individuals as they grow older and then protect their beneficiaries when they pass away.
The Street’s recent article entitled “Guide to Protect Your Assets as You Age – Power of Attorneys” asks us to think about visiting your family doctor for the last 30 years but then needing to see a specialist for the first time. That’s because your family doctor isn’t a specialist, and they might miss something. The article explains that elder law attorneys are the specialists of the legal profession—they take a fresh look at a client’s situation and develop strategies to protect them and their families from the risks as we grow older.
Elder law attorneys show you how to protect yourself and your family. When partnering with an elder law attorney, they make certain that your estate goes to your family as you intended, with little or no tax liability.
An important tool for elder law attorneys is the Power of Attorney (POA). There are two of them: a medical POA (sometimes called an Advance Medical Directive) and a financial POA (usually called a Durable Power of Attorney). These allow you to designate a trusted agent to make your medical and financial decisions, when you are unable.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has placed everyone in difficult circumstances. As a result, many hospitalized patients are without the proper estate planning documents. While things are letting up some, hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living homes have shuttered their doors to visitors and non-essential workers in an attempt to minimize the spread of this disease. As a result, many patients are unable to get these documents signed.
Although some states initially prevented electronic signatures and notarization that would keep contact to a minimum, many have now permitted patients access to elder law and estate planning attorneys, when needed. These states have signed executive orders that allow for electronic signatures, which has been a huge help. Even so, this can be challenging for an elder individual.
Financial powers of attorney are not all the same either. They are just one tool in the toolbox.
A power of attorney can have a list of things you will permit your designated agent to do for you. Many of these documents do not give your agent enough power to protect you. That’s because they limit your agent’s abilities. That may sound good when you first sign them, but the result is that it makes things harder for your family, if you have a stroke and your loved one needs to protect your finances.
Reference: The Street (Sep. 24, 2020) “Guide to Protect Your Assets as You Age – Power of Attorneys”