Elderly woman in hospital bed as person looks towards front

Why Powers of Attorney are Necessary in a Crisis

In a crisis situation, what happens if you or your family member is suddenly incapacitated and unable to take care of routine affairs? Who will continue to pay your health care premiums, the mortgage, or other important expenses? If you own a business, who will work with your bank or payroll provider to pay your employees? Unfortunately, without certain documentation, you may be left in a lurch. So, in this article, we explain why Powers of Attorney are necessary in a crisis and what you need to do now, to prepare for the unexpected.

Many people are surprised to learn that, when an adult family member is hospitalized or otherwise incapacitated, their family may not legally be able to take care of certain priorities and obligations on their behalf without Powers of Attorney documents in place. There are several reasons why these documents are so important.

If you or your family member is incapacitated and needs to contact your financial or investment advisor, that advisor’s hands are tied and cannot take any action on your behalf unless there is a legally valid Financial Power of Attorney in place.  This could be catastrophic, especially if markets are volatile and you must urgently modify your investments.  Or, let’s say that a husband and wife have separate bank accounts and the husband historically pays the mortgage from his bank account.  If he becomes incapacitated, the bank is not authorized to work with anyone, on his behalf, in the event of a health crisis.  Companies are prohibited from discussing your personal information, such as mortgage, insurance policies, banks accounts, credit card accounts, etc, without a Power of Attorney document.

Likewise, if medical treatment is necessary, the doctors will need to have Healthcare Power of Attorney, giving someone the power to make decisions regarding what medical treatment you will receive if you cannot make those decisions yourself.  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis is a classic example of why these documents are so important.

Powers of Attorney documentation vary, so don’t rely on a standard template to ensure your specific needs are covered.  Sometimes you may need enhanced provisions to give your Power of Attorney additional powers to act for you, which the Maryland statutory forms may not include.  In many states, real estate transactions can not occur without a specific Power of Attorney.

Updating your Will or Estate plan to include any recent changes such as marriage, divorce, newborn children, blended families, is also very important.  If you need help ensuring that you have the appropriate documentation, in the event of your sudden illness, incapacitation, or death, contact the attorneys at FrameandFrame.com today.  We believe in helping people with thoughtful planning, guidance during times of crises, and creating a clear path for life’s legal journeys.  We have been serving our community for over 65 years and are here to serve.