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How a Power of Attorney Can Protect Your Parents

Due to the miracles of modern medicine and other advances in technology, science, and other areas, on average human beings are living longer now than any generation before. While this is a blessing, it also brings with it the need for additional planning. Many of our clients have reached a point in their lives where they now have the responsibility of caring not only for their own children but also for their aging parents. This often leaves our clients feeling overwhelmed and underprepared. As the premier Idaho estate planning law firm, we offer our clients concrete help, counsel, and legal options that can ease the burden of these responsibilities and can remove the feelings of being overwhelmed.

For over 70 years the team of knowledgeable and experienced Idaho estate planning attorneys at the Racine Law firm have assisted clients with preparing and planning ways to help their aging parents. Our team is made up of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley, each of whom have received the highest ratings possible from several well-known legal ranking services including Martindale and Hubbell, AVVO, and Justia. Additionally, our team of attorneys consistently receive high reviews from our clients based on the legal services we provided.

When it comes to aging parents the single best legal option available is to make sure that they have completed their power of attorney. While there are numerous benefits to having a well-crafted power of attorney we will mention the three most important ones below.

Financial Protection

One of the most important protections that can be offered by having a completed power of attorney has to do with finances. The reason this is important is because as parents age, and as their mental abilities begin to slow down or degrade, dealing with finances is one of the first indications that your parents need help. If you have found that your parents are often confused about their bills, or their finances, including their bank balances, this should be an indication that they may need help.

Additionally, we often have clients tell us that their parents have overdrawn their checking account even though there was plenty of money in a savings account or other type of account that could have been accessed by their parents. When this occurs, we focus on several specific financial questions including the following:

  1. Have your parents began receiving late notices from creditors?
  2. How often have your parents overdrawn their checking account?
  3. Do your parents understand how much money they currently have saved?
  4. Do your parents understand the different types of accounts they have in their name?
  5. Do your parents understand what their current bills are?
  6. Is there any indication that your parents have been taking advantage of financially by family members or by other individuals?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it may be an indication that your parent is starting to lose the ability to oversee and take care of their own personal finances. When this occurs, it is important that your parents have a power of attorney in place to protect them.

A durable power of attorney is a document used by attorneys in Idaho to allow an individual, such as your parents, to name another person who can make decisions for them about their finances, property, other assets, and daily life affairs. The purpose of a durable power of attorney is to provide another person with the authority to help with these things without giving them any type of ownership interest in these things. A child who holds a durable power of attorney for their parent has the ability to access their parent’s bank accounts, their retirement accounts, talk with the social security administration or other benefits providers, pay bills, deal with creditors, and essentially do all financial things that the individual could have and likely was doing for themselves previously during their adult life.

Avoiding Potential Family Fights

A durable power of attorney is just one of the several basic estate planning documents that we recommend all adults have. However, unlike a last will and testament, trust or other estate planning document, a durable power of attorney is likely the most important estate planning document a person can have while they are alive. The reason for this is because it allows an individual to make a plan for themselves that will avoid the cost of court proceedings and more importantly will avoid any potential family fights that could arise.

If your aging parent does not have a durable power of attorney, and they suddenly lose the ability to care for their own finances or take care of any other part of their life, because of an injury, illness, or some other physical or mental incapacity, the law would require a guardianship Court proceeding to take place so that a legal guardian can be named to care for your parent. A guardianship proceeding is where a court recognizes that an individual can no longer take care of themselves, their property, and or their finances.

To protect that individual the court would name a legal guardian for them. In Idaho there are several statutes that provide guidance on who would be appointed. Usually, it is a family member that takes on this responsibility. However, family members may not all agree on who is best suited to take on this responsibility. When this occurs, family members May fight about who should be appointed.

A family fight concerning a guardian can be an expensive and time-consuming process. This is because the person over whom a guardian is being named has their own attorney. Any individual who is seeking to be appointed as a guardian has their own attorney. More than likely several physicians may be called in to testify about the individual’s capacity or rather their need for a guardian. Additionally, family members may be called on to testify about who they believe would be best suited to be named as a legal guardian. All of this generally leads to family disputes or fights which often causes irreparable harm to relationships.

By having a durable power of attorney as one of the basic documents in your parent’s estate planning, your parent will have decided who they want to have named as their legal guardian if they are ever in need of one. This allows them to eliminate the need for a court proceeding to determine who their legal guardian would be. Additionally, family members are generally not given the opportunity to fight over who they have named. As a result, by having a durable power of attorney your parent will have avoided potential family fights and potential costly legal proceedings.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Idaho estate plan or with your probate needs. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or need a Probate for a loved one who has passed, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with the Racine Olson team. You can also email us directly at racine@racinelaw.net. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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