Everyone should have a Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney to protect themselves in the event of an accident. Before snowbirds begin their seasonal journey to warmer climates, it’s time to be sure that they have the important legal documents in place, advises LimaOhio.com in a recent article “Different seasons and documents, same peace of mind.” The two documents are a healthcare power of attorney and a financial power of attorney, and they should be prepared and be ready to be used at any time.
A Power of Attorney names another person to make healthcare and financial decisions, in case you are not able to make those decisions for yourself. We never think that anything will really happen to us, until it does. Having these documents properly prepared and easily accessible helps our loved ones. They are the ones who will need the powers given by the documents. Without a Power of Attorney, they cannot act in a timely manner.
If traveling between a home state and a winter home, it is wise to have a set of documents that align with the laws of both states. It may be necessary to have a separate set of documents for each state, if the laws differ.
Financial powers of attorney typically need updating more often than healthcare powers of attorney. The law has changed in recent years, and there are a number of specific powers that need to be stated precisely, so that the document can grant those powers. This includes the power to gift assets and make a person eligible for nursing home and other healthcare assistance, like Medicaid.
If a Power of Attorney is not in place and is needed, the only way that someone else can make decisions for the person, is to become a guardian of that person. That includes spouses. Many people think that the fact that two people are married gives them every right, but that is not the case. Guardianship takes considerably more time and costs more than these two documents. It should be noted that once guardianship is established, the person who is the guardian will need to report to the court on a regular basis.
Another document that needs to be in place is a living will or advance directive. This is a document prepared to instruct others as to your wishes for end-of-life care. The document is created when a person is mentally competent and expresses their wishes for what they want to happen, if they are being kept alive by artificial means. For loved ones, this document is a blessing, as it lets them know very clearly what their family members wishes are.
Peace of mind is a wonderful thing to take with you as you prepare for a warm winter in a different climate. Talk with an estate planning attorney to be sure that your estate planning documents will be acceptable in your winter home.
Reference: LimaOhio.com (Oct. 26, 2019) “Different seasons and documents, same peace of mind”