ARTICLES / General /
Donít Be a Joe or Helen! /
By Susan Piette, JD
If the son on governmental assistance accepts
the inheritance money, he will most likely be
disqualified from his governmental assistance
and have to reapply after the inheritance money
is used up; or he may need to utilize a portion
of those funds to establish a type of trust for
the funds so that he may continue to receive the
governmental assistance and have the inheritance
funds supplement not replace his governmental
Helen no longer has the mental capacity to
execute a power of attorney. What is a power of
attorney and why is it so import
Answer: A power of attorney is a
legal document that allows one person (the
ďprincipalĒ) to grant to another person (the
ďagentĒ) the legal authority to make decisions and
enter into transactions on the principalís behalf.
The legal authority granted can be significant,
including the ability to sell or purchase real
estate, transfer money, buy or sell securities, make
gifts and the like.
A durable power of attorney allows the person you
appoint to act in your place now, and when and if
you ever become incapacitated. Without a durable
power of attorney, no one can represent you unless a
court appoints a guardian. That court process takes
time, costs money, and the judge may not choose the
person you would prefer. In addition, under a
guardianship, your representative may have to seek
court permission (which might not be granted) to
take planning steps that you could implement
immediately under a simple durable power of
Unintended result: Instead of
Helen choosing an agent to manage her financial,
real estate and other matters via a power of
attorney, a court appointed guardian will be needed.
Although Helenís daughter may be appointed by the
court as her guardian, Helen could have designated
her daughter as her agent and saved thousands of
dollars in legal fees.
Helen no longer has the capacity to execute an
advance healthcare directive. What is an advance
healthcare directive and why is it so important to
have one in place?
Answer: An advance healthcare
directive is an instruction given by you concerning
the medical treatment or care that you would want -
or would not want - should circumstances arise where
you are no longer capable or competent to give such
an instruction. Advance healthcare directives are
the best way to ensure that your express wishes for
health care are known and honored.
Unintended result: Helenís
wishes for her medical treatment and end of life
decision may not be followed.