Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and as we age it is of the utmost importance to ensure that ourselves and our loved ones are properly protected. Many times, individuals are simply unaware of the pitfalls that may come from failing to execute a Power of Attorney, or POA. POAs are tools used in many Estate Plans which not only provide a sense of comfort to our clients but ensures they and their families will not be stuck in the Probate Court if an unexpected problem arises.
In Michigan, there are two common types of POAs, a Medical POA and a Financial POA. Medical POAs are used to give a trusted individual, called a “Patient Advocate,” the ability to make medical and/or mental health decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. In contrast, a Financial POA grants an individual known as your “Agent,” the power to make decisions regarding your financial affairs. In order to ensure your Agent continues to assist in this regard through your possible incapacitation, you should ensure your attorney drafts a “Durable” Financial POA.
Should one fail to execute POAs prior to incapacitation (which can be either mental or physical), then the local Probate Court may become involved. This can cost thousands of dollars, be time consuming, and often-times leads to infighting among family members who cannot decide which of them should be in charge of their loved one’s medical and financial needs. In order to avoid the possibility of a Guardianship or Conservatorship through the Probate Court, it is best to plan ahead and make an appointment to speak with your attorney about executing the necessary POAs.