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Estate Planning: Why Power of Attorney Matters

February 23, 2021

Video Transcript

Hi everyone! Welcome back to another Legal Tip Tuesday. I’m Jessica Rafferty and I’m an attorney at QuatriniRafferty. I know I’ve been focusing a lot on your will and I promise I will get back to the topic of your will because there really are so many different components that you can incorporate to work for your particular situation. But today I wanted to talk to you about Powers of Attorney.

So I’ll tell you, you know when somebody emails me and, it’s usually through an email, and they say “I just want a will. I don’t want anything else. I don’t want a Power of Attorney,” I sort of cringe inside because it’s such an important component to your estate plan.

So, first off what is a Power of Attorney? A Power of Attorney allows you to name your agent. That is the person that would act on your behalf if you could no longer do so and there are couple of different types of Powers of Attorney and you may have heard of this, but there’s one that’s a financial power of attorney often called a “durable financial power of attorney” and another that is a “health care power of attorney” and often times there is an additional document, even though it’s all in one attached to that, that is called a living will or an advance health care directive, and you may have been asked for those types of documents when you go to your doctor’s office.

So why is it so important and why do I cringe? I cringe because if you do not do this while you have capacity, right, you understand what you’re doing, you’re able to select who you would want to act on your behalf if you are unable to. Your family or some agency is going to have to file a guardianship petition for you if you cannot make decisions for yourself. And at that point, the decision is out of your
hands. You don’t get to pick who your agent is the court does. And even though the court tries to get it right, a lot of times they don’t. So while you are able to, why wouldn’t you pick the person who you would want to act on your behalf if you weren’t able to, right?

So, you know, I actually this is kind of a sidetrack here, but the person that you want to pick, you’d really need to trust. And I heard somebody mentioned this a few weeks ago and I don’t know if you guys are ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ fans, but I always was and I always love Atticus Finch. And there was a scene where he was talking to Scout. And he said something to the effect of “you never really understand a person until you walk in their shoes.” And it’s not exactly right but, it mentions the fact that you need to get inside their skin and walk around for a while to really understand them. And that’s who you would want to pick as your agent. You want to pick somebody who really understands what you want. You don’t want somebody that’s going to do what they think is best for them or what they would want. You want to select somebody who understands you.

And I work with my clients to kind of come up with the right person for that job, so to speak. And you know it just saves so much conflict and cost because as soon as you have to file a petition with the
court and you have to go to court, the costs go way up. So it’s much more cost effective to do a Power of
Attorney and it actually provides you with control that you otherwise are not going to have.

So, that’s what I want to tell you about Powers of Attorney for today, I’ll get into more detail in another episode, but until next time I hope you guys have a great day and I’ll see you next time.