There are a large number of married couples in Massachusetts who assume that their spouse will be asked, by default, to make medical and financial decisions for the other. Unfortunately, many of these couples discover that this is not the case. Sometimes, a power of attorney isn't enough. Obtaining conservatorships can be time-consuming and expensive for those who aren't expecting to need it.
A man seeking to cash out his wife's retirement fund in order to help with medical costs has, instead, been accumulating legal fees in an attempt to gain conservatorship of his wife. He has been contesting legal fees charged by the court-appointed attorney, but each time he contests a fee, a hearing must be held. By the time everything is settled and the conservatorship has been decided, up to a quarter of the wife's IRA could be lost to legal fees and other bills.
Because his wife was younger than him and they were not wealthy, the man didn't feel that it was necessary to set up a power of attorney. Unfortunately, after being diagnosed with dementia, his wife now lacks the mental capacity to make medical and financial decisions. Her condition has also made it impossible for the couple to have new power of attorney documents drawn up and signed, which is why her husband now seeks conservatorship.
There is no way to predict what problems, health, financial, or otherwise, might arise in the future. Many people who usually find themselves in good health or who are normally financially stable can become overwhelmed by unexpected medical costs or other financial hardships. People living in Massachusetts who wish to know more about conservatorships or other estate planning options could benefit from speaking with an attorney.
Source: wtsp.com, "Man spends thousands in probate court costs as he tries to help wife with dementia", Craig Harris, Feb. 15, 2018