In this month's newsletter, learn about the importance of a power of attorney for financial matters.
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16 August, 2016
Good Morning! 

This month we are focusing on the importance of financial powers of attorney. To put it simply, everyone who earns income or owns property should have a power of attorney. You never want to think that something could happen to you, but it is better to be prepared than to find yourself in a bad situation. Please call our office if you have any questions or are interested in preparing a power of attorney. 

Miles Hurley, JD, CELA
Do I Really Need a Power of Attorney for Financial Matters?

In our elder law practice, we often discover that mom has no power of attorney. We hear things like “she doesn’t trust anyone,” “dad thinks because they are married he automatically serves as her power of attorney” or even “why would I want to do that?” From our perspective, if you earn any income or own any property, executing a General Durable Power of Attorney (GDPOA) for financial matters is a must.  It becomes particularly important if you have any health care concerns that may somehow impede your ability to manage your own financial affairs.

Contemplating the possibility that we could permanently or temporarily become unable to handle our own financial matters is rarely top of mind. But the possibility of an unexpected accident or diagnosis is real and being prepared is a pragmatic decision that will save time and money for the people who care about you. The reality is that the practical tasks of day-to-day life still must be managed if you become incapacitated. Bills have to be paid, insurance paperwork has to be completed and sometimes the roof needs to be repaired! Having a GDPOA in place will allow someone you trust to step in and act on your behalf.

Choosing the right person to appoint as your legal agent is a struggle for many people and can become a barrier to executing this very important document. Common pushbacks we hear in our elder law practice are things like: fear of losing control, an appearance of favoritism between one child vs. another, and an unwillingness to accept cognitive decline. We recommend selecting a trusted family member, friend or advisor to act as your legal agent. Consider utilizing a professional agent (often called a daily money manager) if family and friends are far away or you believe them to be unsuitable for the position. There are reliable options available at a reasonable cost.

A General Durable Power of Attorney for financial matters can be prepared by most elder law attorneys or estate planning attorneys. Downloadable and store-bought powers of attorney are one of the biggest sources of headaches for our clients and their adult children. Often, these two-page documents do not address the powers the family needs to conduct their financial business and are rarely accepted by financial institutions. There are often “state specific” rules that are not contemplated by the “form” documents.

A well-prepared power of attorney should be “durable” – meaning the powers are not affected if you lose cognitive capacity. It should include language that allows gifts to be given in order to qualify for public benefits, the ability to apply for public benefits and to establish trusts.  Powers of attorney can be immediate or springing. An immediate POA takes effect as soon as you have signed the document. At that point your legal agent can act on your behalf with all the powers that have been spelled out in the document. A springing POA only becomes effective when certain conditions are met. These conditions are spelled out clearly in the POA. For example: you become disabled or mentally incapacitated. Often times attorneys who create the power of attorney will include language that requires a doctor’s certification of mental incapacity. Our elder law practice recommends immediate powers of attorney because the red tape involved in being declared “incapacitated” can often cause significant delays for the agent you have appointed.

If you do not have a financial power of attorney in place and you become incapacitated, no one will have legal authority to write checks, pay bills or even speak to the insurance company on your behalf. The only real option left is to petition for conservatorship in your county probate court. The court will order an evaluation to determine your capacity and a hearing will be scheduled where the judge will decide whether or not to grant the conservatorship. You will even have to post a bond. The process is expensive, time consuming and easily avoidable!

We are often asked whether or not someone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can execute a power of attorney. The disease by its nature is progressive and depending on where an individual is on the continuum will determine whether they have the capacity to execute a power of attorney, but a mere diagnosis does not mean a complete loss of capacity. It is also important to note that a power of attorney ends at death. 

Just because you complete a power of attorney does not mean that you give up control of your money. What it does mean is that you give permission to your legal agent to access funds without your permission. If you choose the right person to act for you and have a properly drafted document executed, you can eliminate the multitude of headaches that occur when there are no documents in place. Bear in mind that no plan for the loss of capacity is complete without having a GDPOA in place.

Family Business We’ve got lots of Hurley Elder Care Law kids getting ready for the start of a new school year. We’ve got 3 sophomores in college, 1 senior in high school, 3 juniors in high school, 1 sophomore in high school, 1 eighth grader and 1 seventh grader. Good luck to everyone starting the new school year. 
Upcoming Events!
-Click on the date to RSVP for the event.

August 18Please joiMiles Hurley, JD, CELA as he presents "The Dementia Maze: Understanding the Options and Cost of Care” on Thursday, August 18, 2016, at Arbor Terrace of Johns Creek.

September 8- Please join Danielle Humphrey, JD, CELA, for a complimentary CEU as she discusses "Capacity, Competency, and Ethical Interventions: A Legal Discussion for Healthcare Providers" on Thursday, September 8, 2016, at Aspen Village. 

September 15- Please join Danielle Humphrey, JD, CELA, for a complimentary CEU as she discusses "Ethical Dilemmas in Geriatric Care: A Case Study Approach" on Thursday, September 15, 2016, at the Renaissance on Peachtree.

September 29- Please join Miles Hurley, JD, CELA as he presents “The Dementia Maze: Understanding the Options and the Cost of Care” on Thursday September 29, 2016, at Dogwood Forest of Acworth.  

October 18- Please join Miles Hurley, JD, CELA as he presents "The Dementia Maze: Understanding the Options and Cost of Care” on Tuesday, October 18, 2016, at Cobb Senior Services.

Recent Blogs LMTX Drug Disappoints- Find out why the eagerly awaited Alzheimer’s drug has been a disappointment in its first stage of trials.

Avoid Costly Medicare Mistakes- Are you making these costly Medicare mistakes?

New Developments for LGBT Benefits-Learn about new benefit developments available for the LGBT community. 
Elder Care Resources Steps Toward Financial Planning- Learn what steps to take towards successful financial planning. 

When to Move Seniors- How do you know when it’s right to move your parents out of their home?

Block ID Theft of the Deceased- Learn how to protect a deceased loved one’s identity.
Miles P. Hurley, JD, CELA Miles P. Hurley founded Hurley Elder Care Law in 2006 to provide legal assistance to the elderly population on issues relating to aging including retaining independence, quality of life and financial security. Mr. Hurley is one of ten attorneys in the state of Georgia to receive the Elder Law Attorney Certification, and one of approximately 400 nationwide. 
Hurley Elder Care Law is dedicated to the process of long-term care and estate planning. Call us today for a free phone consultation with a client coordinator at (404) 843-0121.
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Hurley Elder Care Law
100 Galleria Pkwy, Suite 650
Atlanta, GA 30339

Satellite Offices
2011 Commerce Dr. Suite 100, Peachtree City, GA 30269   
225 Creekstone Ridge, Woodstock, GA 30188       
2180 Satellite Blvd, Suite 400, Duluth, GA 30097
Hurley Elder Care Law       404-843-0121

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