Consider this scenario: A woman takes over the lives of an older couple. The couple has never met this woman, but she assumed guardianship over the then 80-year-old couple. She took over their home, their finances, their personal property and their independence for more than four years.
The couple eventually wins their independence back through a lawsuit against the woman, but only after she had already taken everything from them. This isn’t an isolated case. A quick Google search of this topic show millions of cases of guardianship abuse. This happens all too often, in part because of the lack of oversight and legal loopholes.
While the individual that is alleged to need a guardian must be notified that a petition has been filed, notified of any hearings and advised of his or her legal rights, in practice, this may not always go so smoothly and any notifications about this important petition may go undelivered or unnoticed. Moreover, hiring an attorney and paying the court fees for petitions may be something some individuals cannot afford or have time for.
The lack of structure and input from both parties prior to a court hearing in this process can lead to situations like what the couple above experienced. So how can you protect yourself?
The Durable Power of Attorney
A Springfield power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to manage your affairs under certain situations — the most common being when you become incapacitated or unable to care for yourself. An ordinary power of attorney is valid only until the principal becomes incapacitated or dies. A durable power of attorney is valid even after the principal becomes incapacitated, though it ends automatically when the principal dies or revokes the document.
A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to manage financial, health care and end-of-life decisions on your behalf. It is crucial that the individual you appoint be someone trusted since that person will have authority to make decisions for you regarding your medical care, as well as manage your finances and property.
In some situations, if an individual does not have a power of attorney in place when a court deems the individual incapacitated or unable to manage his or her own affairs, the court will appoint a guardian for the individual who may be someone you don’t know.
While a durable power of attorney is a powerful document to protect you from unwanted guardianship, it is just as important to have an honest conversation with your loved ones about this topic.
A Springfield Power of Attorney is Revocable at Any Time
A power of attorney is revocable at any time. All you need to do is sign and date a document saying as much, physically destroy the document yourself or have someone else destroy it for you, or orally express your intention to revoke the document.
If you or a loved one is in an estate dispute or needs guidance on creating Springfield power of attorney documents, contact us today.