A Financial Power of Attorney names a trusted individual to make financial decisions for you if you are no longer able to make those decisions for yourself. This document is needed because, without one, someone will have to be appointed by the Probate Court to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. A Guardianship allows the Court to appoint someone to make health care and placement decisions for you. A Conservatorship is for managing your assets. A Guardianship is different from a Conservatorship, although they can be filed jointly. Both of these require an action to be filed, and can easily cost thousands of dollars to have put in place. Even spouse would have to go through this legal process if you were to become incapacitated and did not have a Power of Attorney.
We have had to handle Guardianships and Conservatorships several times for spouses of incapacitated people. They are almost always shocked they have to go through this process, and are surprised by how expensive it is. Unfortunately, the law requires that a Guardian ad Litem, who is another attorney, and a Visitor, who must be a registered nurse, social worker or attorney, be appointed as part of the action. The filing fees alone for these actions are several hundred dollars. There are also annual reporting requirements, Court fees, and ongoing Court supervision for as long as the disability lasts. All of this, however, can be completely avoided with a Financial Power of Attorney.
If you really care about your loved ones, take care of this ahead of time. Go see a local attorney and have them draft a good, valid power of attorney so that if something happens, you will know that you (and your family) are taken care of. This costs very little to set up, and will spare your loved ones from a lot of stress and paperwork in Court later.
If you are interested in having a power of attorney set up, give us a call or fill out the easy contact form on the right. Also be sure to request a copy of our new book, Five Reasons a Simple Will Might Not Be Enough, which not only covers the basics of estate planning in South Carolina, but also includes information on Financial and Health Care Powers of Attorney.