The unfortunate truth is that not everyone will spend their “golden years” being able to care for themselves. Therefore, it is essential that part of every Massachusetts resident’s estate plan provides for long term care. Any plan for long term care should include durable powers of attorney.
Powers of attorney are documents that appoint a trusted individual or individuals to make decisions and sign documents on a person’s behalf in the case of incapacitation. Many people include springing powers in their durable powers of attorney. This means that the power of attorney will only go into effect if one or more physicians certify that the individual is unable to take care of the day-to-day activities of most people (such as bathing, dressing and feeding oneself) and/or is incompetent.
Because the agent appointed in these documents will essentially have significant control over a person’s life, it cannot be stressed enough the importance of having trust in that person. Equally as important is ensuring that financial institutions will honor the document. It is recommended that inquiries be made ahead of time to be sure that it will be honored if and when the time comes.
If a Massachusetts resident fails to execute powers of attorney and becomes unable to care for him or herself, family members will be forced to spend time and money to gain the right to act for their ailing loved one from the court. This process could waste valuable time during which that loved one — and his or her finances — could be in jeopardy. Therefore, in order to provide everyone with peace of mind that any care will not be interrupted, these documents should be executed in conjunction with other estate planning documents.
Source: fedweek.com, “Key elements of an incapacity plan“, Oct. 22, 2015