Consequences When You Do Not Have a Power of Attorney
The last will and testament may be the cornerstone of estate planning, but there are many other documents to consider to protect your interests. Some are effective during your lifetime, offering a way to plan for incapacity. A durable power of attorney under Pennsylvania law is one option that addresses your real estate and personal property. In the document, you designate an agent who will manage your assets according to the instructions you provide. Your DPOA should have a clause stating that the agent’s authority becomes effective upon an event, which will usually be disability or incapacity of the principal.
A power of attorney enables you to plan ahead and appoint someone you trust to stand in your shoes to manage your property. When you do not prepare this important estate planning document, you might not realize the implications for your life and the impacts on loved ones. You should consult with a Lehighton power of attorney lawyer about the numerous reasons for a DPOA, but it is disturbing to review what happens without one.
Court is Necessary: If you suffer from a medical condition that renders you unable to make decisions and manage your assets, there is no one who can stand in your place to handle legal and financial matters. Your loved ones will need to go to court and petition to have a guardian appointed, a process that can take several weeks depending on the scheduling docket. Your real estate and personal property could be subject to waste while awaiting the judge to approve a guardian for your estate. Plus, the filing fees and legal costs are high whenever court proceedings are involved.
Disputes in Guardianship Cases: It is estimated that a court will appoint a guardian within several weeks, but the process could take far longer when there are disagreements. One source of disputes is who will act as guardian when there are many interested parties who could file the petition. The court will usually have to conduct a hearing to determine which of competing petitions should be approved. Litigation increases the time for getting a guardian appointed, possibly by several months.
You Have No Input: Even once a guardian is appointed to manage your real estate and personal property during incapacity, this individual does not have direction from you. The authority granted to a guardian is rather general. With a DPOA, you can include specific instructions with respect to handling your assets. Under a power of attorney, you might want to either require or permit your agent to:
- Sell assets to provide income for your medical care;
- Make investments;
- Retain financial experts for help with complicated and high net worth estates; and,
- Conduct many other tasks that support your needs.
Discuss Powers of Attorney with a Pennsylvania Estate Planning Lawyer
These are consequences you might not expect, so take action to avoid them by preparing a DPOA. To learn more, please contact the Law Office of Kim M. Gillen, P.C. to set up a consultation. A skilled estate planning attorney will advise you on options.