Why do a Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and Living Will?

Robert called our office about his mother Wanda. She had suffered a stroke and was unable to speak. While Robert was her only child, the doctors at the hospital would not discuss her medical care issues with him. Additionally, Wanda’s bank would not allow Robert to access funds to pay for her care or to pay her bills. Because he had no legal ability to make any decisions for his mother, he was forced to apply with the Cuyahoga County Probate Court to be appointed Guardian. While he was appointed Guardian after a hearing, he still was required to post a bond with the court and the proceeding took almost two months before he was appointed Guardian. During this time Wanda’s bills were not paid and her utilities were shut off because of nonpayment. After being appointed Guardian Robert was able to take care of these matters, but he is now required to report to the court on all action he takes with regard to Wanda’s care.

Rebecca was referred to our office by her financial planner. She had a modest net worth, but was concerned what would happen to her if she became incapacitated. We drafted a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney, and a Living Will for her that appointed her daughter Elaine to make financial and health decisions if she was unable to do so. Sadly a few months later she too suffered a stroke and was unable to care for herself. Elaine was able to use the Powers of Attorney to take care of all of Rebecca’s financial affairs. She was also able to place Rebecca in a rehabilitation facility using the Health Care Power of Attorney. There was little cost to prepare these documents, no bonds were needed, the court was not involved, and Elaine was able to step in and care for Rebecca immediately.

As you can see from the above examples, it is very important to have a Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will, HIPAA Waiver and Durable Power of Attorney for Property Management in place before any major health crisis arises.