Learn how a $39 document could save your family thousands of dollars
I would like to explain the benefits of a Power of Attorney and emphasize the importance of establishing a Power of Attorney as early as possible. The consequences of not completing your power of attorney are significant and far-reaching, impacting your personal, familial, financial, and healthcare affairs.
Consider the (all too common) scenario where an unexpected accident or illness leaves you incapable of making decisions or managing your own affairs. Without a valid Power of Attorney in place, your loved ones would face unnecessary hurdles, delays, and legal complexities in accessing your assets, making financial decisions, or even ensuring your healthcare preferences are honored. The resulting consequences are emotionally taxing, financially burdensome (thousands of dollars wasted), dangerous to your health, and often leads to bitter family disputes.
$39 and 30 minutes could save your family over $1,900 in legal fees
Regain control over your wishes and protect your family
By taking the proactive step of establishing your Power of Attorney, you regain control over your wishes and provide your family with a well-defined roadmap for managing your affairs in the event of incapacitation. Allow me to highlight some of the potential benefits and consequences associated with this essential legal document:
- Avoid Costly Court-Appointed Guardianship: Without a Power of Attorney, your loved ones may be compelled to initiate costly and time-consuming court proceedings to establish guardianship or conservatorship. This process involves extensive legal procedures and ongoing court oversight, which can lead to significant expenses and potential conflicts among family members. The fees seen in a typical legal practice for court appointed guardianships on average total more than $1900 and a court process that can take over 3 months. If there are any family conflicts that arise during this process the costs and time required for your family are even higher if you lack a power of attorney:
- Court Fees: $200-3,000
- Legal Fees: Hiring an attorney $1,000-10,000
- Evaluation and Assessment Fees: Evaluations and assessments conducted by medical professionals $200-3,000
- Guardian or Conservator Fees: $200-3,000
- Ongoing Costs: periodic reporting and accounting fees. $300-1,000/year
- Total Costs: $1,900 – $20,000
- Establish and Protect Your Medical and Financial Interests: With a Power of Attorney, you appoint a trusted individual, known as your attorney-in-fact, to act on your behalf. This person — whether a family member, friend, or professional — can make financial, legal, and healthcare decisions in accordance with your wishes and best interests. If you do not establish this person now, the court will do so on your behalf later.
- Ensure Timely Decision-Making: During moments of crisis, time is of the essence. Having a Power of Attorney in place ensures that decisions regarding your healthcare, financial matters, and day-to-day affairs can be made promptly and in accordance with your instructions, providing peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.
- Preserve Family Harmony: By clearly defining your intentions and appointing a trusted individual to act on your behalf, you minimize the likelihood of family disputes arising during challenging times. The time following the death of a loved one is a difficult one, in which often family and sibling rivalries derail our best made plans. Your Power of Attorney serves as a unifying force, allowing your family to focus on providing support and care instead of navigating legal uncertainties and conflict.
I fully endorse FindLaw’s Legal Forms as they are researched and created by attorneys. They are accessible and make preparing your Power of Attorney quick and easy. A solidly-prepared Power of Attorney also provides you with an excellent foundation for any future estate planning documents or consultations.
I urge you not to delay any further. I have dealt with the tragic result of well-meaning adults putting off their power of attorney until it is too late. Procrastination only hurts the loved ones that you leave behind. By creating your own estate plan, you safeguard your future and protect the interests of your loved ones. The best time to prepare your power of attorney form was yesterday, the next best time is right now.
Dina Shehata-Hujber, Esq., MBA of Hujber Law Group has been practicing estate planning, family law, and business law since 2006. She practices in the Boynton Beach area of Florida.