Imagine this: you sit down with your spouse and decide that you need an estate plan. You decide that you don’t have enough money to worry about seeing an attorney, so you find a will online that you decide works well enough, you fill it out, and tell your kids where it is. We’ve already addressed the problems with “do it yourself” planning on the blog, but here we have a much bigger issue.
Your estate plan isn’t done until you have a power of attorney. The reason for this is very simple – you need to have someone who is empowered to make decisions on your behalf in the event you cannot make decisions for yourself. If you were to have a medical emergency and not be in a position to do your banking, pay your bills, make your insurance claims, and talk to your doctors, who would do that? Many people assume their spouse can do this, and in some cases, people may be happy to deal with a spouse rather than you. In many instances, such as in banking, dealing with retirement accounts, short-term disability insurance, or the human resources department at your job, to name a few, your spouse will have a hard time gaining any assistance without either a power of attorney or a court ordered guardianship.
Without a power of attorney in place ahead of time, the people around you have to go to court to have a guardianship proceeding started so the judge can appoint someone to run your life in your place. In addition to the obvious trouble of this taking time that your family may not have, this is more costly than a power of attorney, especially if more than one person wants to be appointed and they fight over it. Further, everything that happens in the guardianship proceeding is entered on the public record, meaning that any family business that might affect who becomes guardian is now as easy to retrieve as finding a parking spot downtown and making your way into the probate clerk’s office.
In our office, we always include a power of attorney when doing estate planning, because as much as we want to take care of families after our clients pass away, we are more concerned about taking care of the client while he or she is alive. If you have questions about how a power of attorney works, or you need someone to review the one you have, give us a call and make an appointment. We’d love to see you.
Ben Worsowicz is an Associate at Lardiere McNair, LLC. To read more about our firm, please visit https://lawyerscolumbusohio.com/.
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