Power Of Attorney: Avoid These 4 Mistakes

It might seem easy enough to dismiss thoughts of illness or injury if you're in good shape. But don't be so hasty: You don't have to be elderly or in poor health to need a working power of attorney. If anything should happen to you unexpectedly, being without a power of attorney could leave you and all your assets in a precarious legal position. Don't make the mistake of not planning for the future by forgetting to set up a legal power of attorney document as soon as you can. The information provided here is for general information only and should not be used as legal advice.

Power of Attorney: Avoid These 4 Mistakes

  1. Not Acting Immediately. Never underestimate how important it is to get the right legal help and acting quickly when drafting your power of attorney. Disaster can strike at any moment, and you don't want to end up in a position where you have no further legal right to your home, your assets, or even your inheritance. Getting in touch with a lawyer to draft up the documents will help secure your future and protect you from catastrophe.
  2. Not Getting A Competency Certification. While similar documents like those enabling guardianships can help friends and family advocate for you when you're not of sound mind, a power of attorney requires a competency certification on your part in order to stand up in court. Don't make the mistake of signing without getting medically checked out first: Otherwise, your document could be rendered meaningless in a court of law.
  3. Trusting The Wrong Person. You may feel like you have trustworthy people in your life who are ready to protect you and your assets. But you can never be too careful when it comes to signing your rights over to someone else, even if they're a close relation. That's why you need to retain a great lawyer who can help protect your rights no matter what.
  4. Not Being Specific Enough. If you're not comfortable signing over power of attorney functionality to someone, you can always choose a limited, rather than general, power of attorney. This will allow a friend or family member to make legal decisions on your behalf without relinquishing all your power.

What Happens If I Trust The Wrong Person?

Sadly, this is an all too common circumstance. Many elderly adults end up getting preyed upon by greedy relatives when they don't arm themselves with good legal help. Protecting your assets as you age is essential for both you and your larger family. That's why you can't afford to take risks when it comes to planning for the future. Finding the right legal help will guarantee that both you and your family get a fair shake. If you feel like you're being taken advantage of, getting in touch with a lawyer can help you reclaim what's rightfully yours.

U.S. Dependency Ratios And Projections 1950- 2050

Decade 18- 64 Dependency Seniors 65+ Dependency
1950 51% 13%
1960 65% 17%
1970 61% 17%
1980 46% 19%
1990 42% 20%
2000 41% 20%
2010 38% 21%
2020 38% 28%
2030 39% 35%
2040 38% 37%
2050 37% 36%

What's The Difference Between Lasting And Enduring Power of Attorney?

In the past, it was possible to create an enduring power of attorney to protect your assets. However, enduring power of attorney documents were less flexible than the newer version, which is called a lasting power of attorney. Since 2007, you can set up an LPA with your lawyer, which allows you to specify whether or not you want to include wealth management, health concerns, or property covered under the same document. Similar to a special or limited power of attorney, an LPA requires that you be of certifiable sound mind at the time the document is created. You don't have to worry about the LPA expiring, and with the help of your lawyer, you can change it as long as your mental ability stays the same.

Common Types Of Elder Abuse In 2018

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse Research Statistics, abuse is most common in the following areas:

  • Neglect
  • Financial Mistreatment
  • Emotional Mistreatment
  • Sexual Mistreatment
  • Psychological Abuse
  • Verbal Mistreatment
  • Exploitation

How Do I Take Action Against Potential Elder Abuse?

If you feel that you or someone close to you is being taken advantage of, there are a few different steps you can take. First, you'll need to find a trustworthy lawyer who can help extricate you or a loved one from the situation. Next, you can start reaching out to state resources like the Eldercare Locator in your area. Most importantly, don't let the situation go on unheeded. Act as soon as you can to protect yourself and the people you love from harm.

In Depth

Whether you're trying to plan for the future or seeking a bit of extra help with money matters and property ownership, setting up a power of attorney is always a great idea. However, as with all legal matters, you'll need some help if you want to do it right. A power of attorney, unlike a conservatorship or guardianship, allows you, as a competent adult, to give those close to you the ability to make legal decisions on your behalf once you're no longer able to advocate for yourself.

For most people, this important role goes to a trustworthy friend or relative, such as an adult child or next-of-kin. However, it's crucial to remember that even though someone is related by blood, they don't always have your best interests at heart. When 85-year-old John Potter gave his daughter Janice power of attorney in 2004, he never suspected that she would turn around and use that power to evict him from his own house in 2010.

But when Potter realized his daughter had used her power of attorney privilege to sign his home over to her, he found himself having to fight his own flesh and blood in court just to be able to stay in his family home. That's why hiring a trustworthy lawyer is an absolute must during this process. Not only is it important to create a power of attorney right away in case anything happens to you, it's also extremely vital that you make the right kind of document so that it's actually recognized in a court of law.

Not only is it important to create a power of attorney right away in case anything happens to you, it's also extremely vital that you make the right kind of document so that it's actually recognized in a court of law.

If you don't go through the right steps, you and your loved ones could easily end up with nothing. Don't wait around: Be sure to read our full guide to the do's and don'ts of creating a power of attorney document. Simply scroll beneath this video to connect instantly with trusted lawyers in your area. Ready to create a legal, lasting power of attorney to protect your assets? Here's what you need to avoid.

#1: Not acting immediately. You may think you have all the time in the world, but think again. Even if you're in great health and feel like you have a long way to go until you'll need a power of attorney, you can never be too careful. Don't assume that because you're not sick or elderly doesn't mean you don't need to protect your assets.

Because life is unpredictable, you can't afford to wait until the last minute to find someone who's willing and able to take on certain responsibilities should you find yourself incapacitated without warning. Don't wait around and let you and your family's rights slip through your fingers. Be sure to read our brief guide on creating a failsafe power of attorney. Simply scroll beneath this video to start protecting your assets.

Because life is unpredictable, you can't afford to wait until the last minute to find someone who's willing and able to take on certain responsibilities should you find yourself incapacitated without warning.

#2: Failing to get a competency certification. Unlike a guardianship or a conservatorship, power of attorney comes into play when an adult is still judged mentally competent. This is an important point: For celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan who are in and out of rehab and can't always be counted on to act in their own best interests, a conservatorship can help protect them from acting against themselves in a moment of inebriation, mental incompetency, or weakness.

However, for a power of attorney to legally pass muster, you have to be certifiably competent and of sound mind when you create the document. That way, you'll be prepared should anything happen to change or prohibit your ability to make legal decisions. This also protects you from signing away your rights while under the influence or in a position of mental incompetency.

#3: Trusting just anyone. If the case of John Potter teaches us anything, it's that you can't always assume your family is on your side. Even if you believe that the people closest to you would never betray you, you still need to retain an experienced lawyer to protect you from being manipulated and tricked. When the famous old Hollywood star Mickey Rooney reached old age, he ended up trusting the wrong people to manage his affairs, a mistake that led to physical abuse and out and out stealing in the years before his death.

Even if you believe that the people closest to you would never betray you, you still need to retain an experienced lawyer to protect you from being manipulated and tricked.

Rooney's 8th wife and his own stepson found a way to legally claim all Rooney's assets, leaving him penniless by the time of his death. Meanwhile, the two raked in $100,000 a year from the actor's social security benefits. It just goes to show that it doesn't matter who you are or how much money you have: If you give power of attorney to someone who's not worthy, it could cost you your house, your savings, and your dignity.

#4: Not specifying your power of attorney. Many courts can deny your power of attorney documents if they're not filled out correctly. One huge mistake you can make is to forget to specify what kind of power of attorney you're looking to create. There are two types of forms you can choose from: A general power of attorney and a limited or special power of attorney. While a general form allows your trustee to act in your stead while managing money, property, and other assets, a limited agreement allows you to get as specific as you like.

We're not lawyers, and this isn't legal advice, but if you want to protect your assets in the long term, it's important to hire legal help when drafting your power of attorney documents. Don't make a mistake you could end up paying for for the rest of your life.

Don't make a mistake you could end up paying for for the rest of your life.

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