Home Preparation, Planning and New Beginnings Why You Need to Grant Powers of Attorney

Why You Need to Grant Powers of Attorney

Estate planning

Elder law and estate planning attorney Andrea Lee joins Suzanne to share advice and tips for legal planning to help you age gracefully in a situation that you like. Andrea Lee serves as an attorney for Legacy Estate Planning in Bellevue, Washington. The power of attorney document is a critical tool to let your family help take care of you when you’re in a crisis situation.

Andrea says, “There are a lot of misconceptions regarding power of attorney documents, having the ability to manage an individual’s state or affairs, and what each person should have in place. Now, typically when I talk about estate planning, I equate it to a pyramid, where there are certain tools every single adult should have in place. Every single person over the age of 18 should have very basic estate planning documents. But as people age, it becomes more important to have those basic documents in place. I would say weekly, I get a phone call or a message that says I need to get power of attorney over my mom.  And the reality is, you don’t get power of attorney over someone, an individual has to give that power… We each have the ability as adults to make decisions on our own. But it’s, it’s really difficult to think that a time [may] come… to empower our children or our cousins or whomever loves you and wants to take care of you, to help you navigate aging or potential incapacity. Of all the estate planning documents I prepare for my clients, financial power of attorney is one of the most important documents.

“Can I take a moment and tell you about my own powers of attorney? I’ve been an estate planning and elder law attorney for about 18 years now. And I actually take care of my own mother, who has pretty advanced dementia, along with my dad and my siblings. But we had our own challenge with powers of attorneys a few years ago. My brother Christian was sick… In a very short period of time, he went to the hospital and he went into a coma… it was a horrible time for my family. He was 44 years old at the time, he had been in perfect health… And our family was beside itself because we’re a very close family and we love each other and support each other. And when my brother Christian was first hospitalized, the hospital would not even share medical information with us.

“Even though I’m an estate planning attorney and I had offered to draft documents to him over and over again, he was a 44 year old healthy man, and he’s like, ‘I don’t need that. Why do I need that?’ But when he became ill, they would not tell us medically what was going on because we did not have the health care power attorney. We did not have a HIPAA release… We wanted to do the most basic things to help him, to cancel his credit card bills, talk to his insurance company, pay his rent, but our hands were tied. So my family felt just completely lost because we wanted to help him and he would have wanted us to help him, but we didn’t have those tools right now.

“That was one of the most painful and difficult times for my family, and as an estate planning attorney, that is where I don’t want my clients to be. And that’s why having properly drafted estate power of attorney documents are essential… That’s the tool that lets your loved ones take care of you when you’re not able to manage your own thing.”

Learn more:
* Andrea Lee: https://www.waltar.com/andrealee/
* Legacy Estate Planning: https://www.waltar.com/

Hear more:
* Legacy Estate Planning podcasts: https://answersforelders.com/tag/legacy-estate-planning/
* Power of attorney podcasts: https://answersforelders.com/tag/power-of-attorney/

Answers for Elders is part of the Senior Resource Network: https://www.seniorresource.com/
Check out our affiliate podcast Alzheimer’s Speaks: https://alzheimersspeaks.com/