Do I Need a Financial Power of Attorney?

670px-Write-a-Medical-Power-of-Attorney-Step-4If you have income or property, a Financial Power of Attorney can be an essential tool for you. It is especially important if you are ill and are worried that your illness may hinder you from handling your own financial affairs.

Why Should I Sign a Financial Power of Attorney?

Signing a Financial Power of Attorney will assign someone you trust to handle your finances should you become unable to do so. They will be able to pay your bills and do any banking that is required, and handle insurance benefits and paperwork for you.

Will It Help to Avoid Conservatorship or Guardianship Hearings?

If you have a Financial Power of Attorney in place, your loved ones will not have to go to court to be able to take over your financial matters. These proceedings can be very expensive and can also become public record that may be published in the newspaper. Relatives often fight over who should take control of your finances. To avoid the embarrassment and ugly public fighting, not to mention the expense, you will want to have a Financial Power of Attorney in place well in advance.

Do You Fear a Family Fight?

Once you finalize your appointment for your Financial Power of Attorney, anyone choosing to challenge it will be fighting a battle they will not likely win. If you suspect that your family might challenge your decision, a guardianship or conservatorship might be an option to consider.

If you do not have someone you trust well enough to appoint as your agent for a Financial Power of Attorney, a guardianship or conservatorship, with added court supervision, could be set up as an alternative. This is something that should be discussed with a trusted legal advisor.

What if I am Married?

If you are married, you might not think that you need a Financial Power of Attorney, but this is not the case. Your spouse has some authority, but it is limited. For example, if you have property that is in both of your names, then you both must agree to a sale. This includes cars and property. A Financial Power of Attorney will give your spouse permission to sell joint property if necessary. If there is no p Financial Power of Attorney, your spouse won’t be able to do anything without first going to court. This is also true if the property in question is in your name only.

What About a Living Trust?

A living trust can be helpful if you become unable to take care of your financial matters, but it is not a substitute for a Financial Power of Attorney. The trustee that will allocate the trust property after your death also has the authority, in most cases, to take over managing the trust property if you become ill.

However, the trustee does not have authority over any property that is not held in the trust. Not many people put all of their property in a living trust, such as real estate or securities. They usually only put things in a living trust that would be expensive in the probate process.

A Financial Power of Attorney is a legally powerful document. For more information on setting up a Financial Power of Attorney or if you would like to know more about your options, CONTACT Sherer Law Offices for a consultation.

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