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Previously, I explained how an estate plan should address what happens to you (and your things) if you become incapacitated to the point you cannot care for yourself.  Incapacity can occur over time from diseases such as dementia.  Or it can happen suddenly with a stroke, a head injury from a fall, or several other reasons.

Years ago, I met with a man doing all he could to care for a spouse who would never again recognize him.  Her dementia was profound, and he was exhausted.  He could no longer care for her alone.  As we reviewed their circumstances, it became apparent that they would need Medicaid to help pay for the assistance she needed. 

However, this solution presented its own challenge.  She was technically the Medicaid applicant.  This meant she had to sign the Medicaid application.   But given her dementia, she did not have the ability to understand what she was signing.  This made her signature invalid.

As a result, we first had to go to Court so that he could obtain the authority to sign for his wife.  This was not an inexpensive process, and could have been avoided had her estate plan included one document before she lost the ability to make her own decisions.  This document was a “power of attorney.”

A power of attorney allows you to determine who can make decisions for you if you become incapacitated.  It is a powerful document and must be handled carefully.  In the wrong hands, it is worse than signing a blank check; it is giving authority to someone else to “be” you.

But with some common sense protections, it is a critical document that can help you maintain control; at least to ensure how you are taken care of if you are unable to make that decision at the time.

Come to a free, no obligation presentation to find out the simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your estate.