Often overlooked in estate planning is the Durable Power of Attorney, which is perhaps better understood as a "Business Power of Attorney." It is a relatively simple document and usually much less expensive than a will but can have enormous benefits to the family in the event of debilitating illness.
Consider that most of the substantial assets,such as the home, real estate holdings, and even bank accounts may be in joint names between husband and wife. If either becomes mentally disabled, even for a
short period of time, or worse, permanently – Alzheimer's, dementia, coma, etc.– the other spouse has no authority to handle much of the ill spouse's business, including the sale or refinance of the home place. In this unfortunate but common situation, the only remedy is for the healthy spouse to bring a lawsuit against the afflicted spouse to have the court determine incompetency and then appoint a guardian to handle the ward's business affairs. This is an expensive, public proceeding, which ends with the necessity of posting bonds and the obligations to file accounts and seek further court approval when real estate is sold. All of this can beavoided by the Durable Power of Attorney. The holder can do almost anything the maker could do for him or herself, such as buying, selling, withdrawing monies, depositing monies, and dealing with insurance issues. The savings in time and emotions are enormous.
Do you have one? Contact Our Estate Planning Attorney at 252-338-4151