By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney
Having been an estate planning attorney now for 20 years, I firmly believe that every individual can benefit from having a least a basic written estate plan. A basic estate planning includes not only a written last will and testament, but also a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a power of attorney for health care. Most people are familiar with a written last will and testament but most people don’t understand or know what the other basic a documents listed above can do for them. It’s for this reason, that this article is dedicated to discussing why every person should have a durable power of attorney as part of their basic estate plan.
To help you understand how important a durable power of attorney could be for you and your family and loved ones, this article will discuss what a durable power of attorney is, how having one can save your family money, and how having one could possibly save your family from having internal disagreements or fights. Hopefully this article will convince you that you too should create your own durable power of attorney.
What a Durable Power of Attorney Is
The starting place is discussing what a durable power of attorney is. Idaho law, and the laws of almost every other state, allow an individual to name other people who can act as agents for them under a power of attorney. Powers of Attorney are used when dealing with real estate at closings when one individual cannot be present but their signature on a document is required. Additionally, contracts and other written documents often provide an individual the power to act on behalf of or for the benefit of another person. This is really what a durable power of attorney is.
More specifically, a durable power of attorney is designed to give you the ability to name another individual who will make decisions about your finances, property, and every other aspect of your life that you normally take care of yourself, if you become unable to do so. The classic example that is used is Alzheimer’s. If a person has a durable power of attorney in place, and then they are incapacitated through an injury or illness such as Alzheimer’s, the person named in the power of attorney can now act on behalf of the incapacitated person. This would allow the named individual to help with bank accounts, investment accounts, dealing with real estate, working with creditors in paying bills, talking with governmental agencies such as the Social Security Administration, and so forth. In its essence, a durable power of attorney gives you the ability to name somebody who will step into your shoes and do everything for you that you would normally do for yourself if you were able.
Having a Durable Power of Attorney Could Save You Money?
So why is having a durable power of attorney so important? Under Idaho law, every adult has the ability to make decisions for themselves. However, if an adult becomes incapacitated the law requires another adult to have legal authority to deal with that person’s money, property, assets, as well as their debts, obligations, and so forth. This could only be accomplished in one of two ways. First, if there is no written durable power of attorney then the family or loved ones of that individual must go to court and do a guardianship proceeding. Through the guardianship proceeding the court will enter an order that identifies and names an individual as the guardian. This person has legal authority to do everything.
The second, and only other way that another person has legal authority to act on behalf of another is through a written durable power of attorney. When this document exists, the family and loved ones do not need to do a guardianship proceeding, which then saves them a good deal of time and money. To keep things simple, a guardianship proceeding is on average about three times as expensive as getting a complete written estate plan.
Having a Durable Power of Attorney Could Prevent Family Fights?
As stated above, when there is no written durable power of attorney, the guardianship proceeding is required. When this happens, just about any family member or other loved one can petition the court to be appointed as the guardian. In other words, other individuals decide who should be appointed to be your guardian rather than you. This often leads to disputes or fights between family members as to who should be appointed. During a guardianship proceeding these fights can become expensive, and can destroy family relationships.
However, when a durable power of attorney exists, the individual who created the power of attorney has named the individuals they want to be appointed. In other words, the individual keeps control of who will be appointed or named to take care of them if they can no longer do it themselves. This avoids family members fighting over who should be appointed. Because of this, a durable power of attorney is a great estate planning tool that can save time, money, and keep family relationships intact.
We have assisted numerous individuals and clients in the creation of their own customized estate plans which include a durable power of attorney. If you are in need of estate planning or a durable power of attorney, we are confident that we can help you too.
ENLIST AN ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU
If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.