Powers of Attorney In Special Relationships

In some relationships it is obvious that durable or health care powers of attorney are important.

Between spouses. From elderly parent to caregiving child. From unmarried adult to trusted confidant. And, as this newsletter emphasizes, from “just turned 18” adult to his or her parents.

In other relationships, however, formally appointing one person as another’s agent for financial or health care matters may not even be on anyone’s radar.

Even if it should be.

Take, for example, an intellectually disabled but still high-functioning (within the disability) 17-year-old son.

Once the son turns 18, and even with his disability, the law may view him as a legal adult, with all the rights and obligations that involves.

Maybe the son can’t handle adult-level finances, even though he can understand basic documents, hold a job, attend classes, or even live on his own (with supervision).

In this type of situation, a durable power of attorney shows its mettle.

With that document, the son can agree for his parent(s) to act as his agent, on his behalf, in financial matters. The agent parent(s) can deposit his paycheck, pay his bills, handle his monthly accounts, and invest any extra.

The agent(s) can also monitor the son’s credit, including to ensure the son hasn’t been swayed by those never-ending credit card offers or roped into a financial scam.

And, while we’re at it, a health care power of attorney from the son to his parent(s) will let the agent parent(s) make medical decisions on the son’s behalf if the need arises.

Or consider a military family, where the wife will be deployed overseas.

Financial issues may arise during her deployment, some of which may require the wife’s signature.

Tax returns must be filed. A mortgage may be refinanced on favorable terms. College financial aid packets for a child may come due.

If both spouses are on the same financial page, and the wife is fully informed (i.e. no fraud or undue influence), a durable power of attorney can be a valuable financial tool.

That document will allow the husband, as the wife’s agent, to sign financial and other documents on her behalf while she is half-a-world away.

These are just two examples of the types of special relationships which can benefit from an appropriate financial and/or medical power of attorney.

There are likely as many needs for powers of attorney as there are special relationships.

Your FOS estate planning attorney can advise you whether a power of attorney would help you in your unique circumstances.