Although it’s difficult to think about, the truth is for people under the age of 65 you are much more likely to become incapacitated before death. Your period of incapacitation may be temporary, such as being unconscious due to a catastrophic accident, or it can be long-term. In some unfortunate cases, incapacity is permanent until death.
What many fail to realize before it’s too late is that if you’re incapacitated you’re legally prohibited from reviewing or signing official documents. Once a person loses capacity due to injury or illness it is too late as the State of California doesn’t allow that person to sign a power of attorney, or any other document. Loved ones of the incapacitated will then only have one option, which is to go to court and pursue a conservatorship. This can be an extremely time-consuming, expensive and humiliating process that’s public for the world to see.
The best solution to avoid this scenario is to establish a Durable Financial Power of Attorney while you still have capacity. When you create and sign a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, you’re essentially giving another person legal authority to act on your behalf. This person is then referred to as an “attorney-in-fact” and given broad power to handle all your finances.
Financial Power of Attorney California Lawyer | Ventura County
No one can predict the future, which is why it’s important you plan ahead. Establishing a Durable Financial Power of Attorney ahead of time will not only ensure your finances are protected in the event you’re incapacitated, but it will also save your loved one’s time, expense, and the emotional distress that accompanies filing for conservatorship. If you are interested in setting up a Durable Financial Power of Attorney for you or a family member, contact Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd..
The attorneys at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. have over 60 years of combined experience helping individuals and families with their estate plans. That includes establishing customized Durable Financial Powers of Attorney which addresses the principal’s needs and ensures a succession of trustworthy agents who are capable of doing whatever needs to be done for the principal’s financial future. Call Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. today at (877) 585-1885 to set up your first consultation free of charge.
Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. is located in Ventura County and surrounding counties including San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Kern County, and Los Angeles County.
- What Does Durable Financial Power of Attorney Mean?
- What does a Financial Power of Attorney Do?
- Why Everyone Needs Durable Financial Power of Attorney
- Additional Resources
What Does Durable Financial Power of Attorney Mean?
Unfortunately, financial exploitation of incapacitated individuals, particularly seniors and other vulnerable populations, is common in the United States. That is why empowering another person to act on your behalf to perform certain financial functions is crucial for every single person. Even if you are currently fit, alert, and seemingly healthy—it’s a bleak reality that incapacity can occur at any time to anyone. So, preparing for the event is critical if you want to secure your financial future for you and your family.
A Durable Financial Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants another person the authority to act on your behalf in financial matters. The person entrusted with this power is known as your agent or “attorney-in-fact” and whoever grants the authority is known as the principal. The authority outlined in the document can be fairly broad or, in some cases, restrictive depending on if the agent has very limited specific duties outlined in the POA.
What Does a Financial Power of Attorney Do?
In most cases, the attorney-in-fact will be given broad power to handle all your finances. However, you can limit or expand their scope of authority as much as you wish. We recommend setting up your POA with an experienced California estate planning lawyer so you can ensure all your financial duties are covered and nothing important is omitted from the POA.
Some duties your attorney-in-fact may have outlined in the POA include:
- Use assets to pay for everyday expenses
- Collect government benefits including Social Security, Medi-Cal, or Medicare
- Handle transactions with financial institutions
- Sell, buy, maintain, pay taxes on, and/or mortgage real estate owned by the principal
- Invest in bonds, mutual funds, and/or stocks
- File and pay taxes
- Buy and sell insurance policies and annuities for the principal
- Claim property you’ve inherited or are otherwise entitled to
- Hire someone to represent you legally in court
- Manage any retirement accounts including IRAs and 401ks
- Operate your small business
- Transfer property to a living trust created by the principal
Why Everyone Needs Durable Financial Power of Attorney
- Provides the ability to choose who will make decisions for you (rather than the court): Without a power of attorney, your loved ones will need to establish a guardianship or conservatorship with probate court in order to get control of your finances. This can be extremely expensive and can take a long time to resolve. Disputes over control can tear your family apart. However, if you have a POA set up then your agent can step in immediately and take over financial duties in the event you’re incapacitated.
- Gives loved ones and family members a good opportunity to discuss the future: When creating a comprehensive power of attorney, there is a lot to consider. Setting up a POA early is a good opportunity for the principal to discuss their wishes and expectations with their family. It also allows times to determine who will be the best attorney-in-fact for the principal’s finances upon incapacitation.
- Prevents questions about the principal’s intent: It’s not uncommon for court battles to occur over the principal’s intent once they’ve become incapacitated. However, if you have a well-drafted POA, along with other important estate planning documents, it will eliminate the need for family members to argue over their loved one’s wishes. Not only will this save the family from stress and tension, but it may save them thousands in court and attorney’s fees.
- Prevents delays in asset protection planning:With a comprehensive POA over finances, it should also include powers to ensure the principal’s assets are protected. Without an effective POA, the agent may not have the ability to protect certain assets and therefore lose thousands of dollars.
- Protects agent from financial abuse allegations: An attorney-in-fact will often have to make substantial gifts to themselves or others in order to carry out asset protection planning objectives. Without a POA authorizing this, the agent could be at risk for financial abuse allegations.
- Allows agents to talk to other agencies: Agents under POA have various duties they must complete which often include direct contact with other third-party agencies and institutions. Without a POA set up, these entities will refuse to disclose any information or provide services to the incapacitated person. They will only do so if a POA, guardianship, or conservatorship is set up.
- Gives access to critical assets immediately: A well-crafted POA over finances will ensure the agent has access to critical assets such as the principal’s bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, etc. Without provisions in the POA addressing immediate access to these assets in place, loved ones of the principal will be forced to gain court approval first.
Free Financial Power of Attorney Form California – Visit the official website for the Sacramento County Public Law Library to gain access to their pamphlet regarding a basic POA over finances. Access the site to learn the various types of POA, power of attorney web resources, where you can find a Financial Power of Attorney form, the statutes governing these documents, and more.
Alternatives to Conservatorship – Visit the official website for the San Francisco Superior Court to read an article regarding alternatives to conservatorship. Access the site to learn about the various agencies that help people with special needs due to age, illness, or disability, information about daily money management programs, how a POA may help you, and options for adults who are unable to communicate their needs.
Ventura Power of Attorney Lawyer, California | Estate Planning, Probate & Trusts
No one can predict the future, but you can be prepared for what may come. Protect your future finances and generational wealth by calling the experienced estate planning California lawyers at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd.. Chris Botti and Paul Morison have practiced for decades and helped thousands of families establish comprehensive power(s) of attorney designed to suit their needs.
Set up your first confidential consultation at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. by calling our offices at (877) 585-1885. Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. assists clients throughout the state of California including Ventura, Westlake Village, San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, Valencia, and Santa Barbara.