One of the most important estate planning documents we utilize in our practice is the Durable Power of Attorney. While this document is often confused with a Health Care Declaration, which by Missouri law is a separate document allowing someone to make medical decisions for you, the Power of Attorney is utilized when it is necessary for someone to make financial decisions on your behalf. Most people assume that a Power of Attorney is only beneficial for older adults; however, we have found that a Power of Attorney is a necessary compliment to any full estate plan. For example, should you or a loved one become involved in an accident and are unable to handle your financial affairs, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to pay bills, access bank accounts, sell assets needed for your care or discuss with your financial advisors any aspects of your investments. The Power of Attorney is crucial for everyone when an emergency exists and also for an older adult who finds it difficult to keep up with every day errands and transactions.
Unfortunately, many clients have waited too long in pursuing a Power of Attorney, as once the emergency exists or the older adult no longer has the capacity, the Power of Attorney usually cannot be executed. Instead, the client is left in a situation where a guardianship or conservatorship must be filed with the Probate Court incurring thousands of additional dollars and losing valuable time in making time sensitive decisions. As our Firm considers a Power of Attorney necessary for any full estate plan, please feel free to contact any one of our estate planning attorneys to further discuss whether this powerful document is right for you.