Protecting Your Wishes With Powers of Attorney
By creating a Power of Attorney you appoint an agent of your choosing to handle and manage your legal and financial affairs should you become incapacitated or incompetent to handle them yourself. Just because your spouse is your spouse does not give him or her legal authority to handle such matters on your behalf. You must designate your agent in a legal document signed by you while you are competent.
If you do not have a Power of Attorney and decisions need to be made in the event that you are unable to make them for yourself, a guardian will be appointed for you by the probate court. This means a legal proceeding whereby someone files a petition with the probate court, your family members are notified and have an opportunity to object to the petition and you will be appointed an attorney to represent you. The process takes time, is expensive and opens the door for family feuds and expensive litigation.
The information provided herein is for general purposes only and does not purport to give specific advice on individual matters. If you want individual advice you should contact an estate planning or elder law attorney.
Mary Howie is an attorney who practices in Elder Law and Estate Planning in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She holds a master’s degree in business administration and finance. If you have any questions, you may call her at 603-893-8008.