Many of us know someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or the family members who are also affected by this disease. Sometimes the disease progresses much more rapidly than originally anticipated. So if this situation affects you or your loved one, decisions regarding finances and healthcare must be made quickly.
The first emergency document needed is a Power of Attorney form. The Power of Attorney form names the person you have selected to act on your behalf when you can't act for yourself. An executed and recorded Power of Attorney form which is properly drafted under Indiana law will allow your loved one's family to relatively seamlessly step in and make the necessary decisions regarding your finances, healthcare, attend medical appointments, fill prescriptions, and so forth. One of the biggest advantages to having this document in place is that filing a court case to Petition for Guardianship may be avoided.
Currently in Marion County, Indiana, a person petitioning for guardianship must pay a bond, hire an attorney, and seek Court approval for certain decisions made on behalf of the ward (the person under guardianship). The expense of this, as well as the delays caused by this process can be burdensome for the family. However, with a Power of Attorney already in place before the diagnosis of Alzheimer's, the attorney-in-fact (the person nominated in the Power of Attorney) would be able to step in and make decisions on behalf of the individual without seeking Court approval and without the delay or costly fees.
The authority granted by a Power of Attorney form can be as limited or as broad as you desire. Some people only include powers relative to banking and medical decisions. However, the powers given can be as broad as allowing the attorney-in-fact to perform all things and make all decisions in the place of the incapacitated person. It is up to you to decide.
A Power of Attorney form is a key document we recommend in all of our estate plans. In fact, all of us should have a POA in place as a precautionary measure. If you wait until there is an emergency, such as a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or some other illness, you might not have the ability to resolve the immediate financial caretaking needs with a simple POA because you or the person who is ill may not have the ability or competency to sign it. Therefore, please don't wait to put this easy, inexpensive tool in place to care for yourself or your loved ones. Contact us today to assist you with your POA or to learn more about estate planning.
Note – our firm has put together a team for the Alzheimer's Association walk in Indianapolis on October 13, 2013. Please click on the link below for more information on how to join our team or make a donation to this great cause. Thank you.