Estate Planning – Get it Done Now!
BY ATTORNEY SUSAN I. JEAN, May 31, 2019
Son came to see me about his mother. She lives in the memory assist unit of a local assisted living facility. And no one had talked with her about doing Powers of Attorney. No one had talked with Son about how difficult and expensive it is to deal with banks when there is no Power of Attorney.
And unfortunately, there is a lot of bad information out there. I asked Son to get a note from Mom’s doctor indicating whether she is currently able to understand a Power of Attorney. The physician’s response was, umm, “less than helpful”. The physician did a mental acuity test (good for the doctor!). Mom scored less than 10 on a scale of 30. The physician reported that Mom has advanced dementia and should give a power of attorney.
A person has to be competent to understand a document in order for the document to be legal. The ability to sign does not mean the ability to understand. And obviously, a simple document is easier to understand than a complicated one, but still, capacity is required.
On interviewing Mom, it is clear that she is not competent. She does not know her son’s name. She does not know how many children she has, and she can’t recognize her grandchildren. She agreed that “that man” had been helpful to her.
Unfortunately, her son will have to go through the courts in order to get the ability to pay her bills. I am happy to help with this process, but … how much easier if they had taken care of this while Mom was still competent.
Folks, this is a friendly nag. Many of you reading this know that you need to get this taken care of. And many of you will wait until too late.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take this burden off of your spouse, your children, and your loved ones. Meet with one of the attorneys in this firm to get these documents taken care of now. You will find that it is simpler than you thought. And this hot summer is the perfect time to check this off your list.