Nobody in their right mind would pay $20,000 just to have a power of attorney drawn up, right? After all, it’s “just a form” – you can even find some free ones online, with a little digging. Well, looks can be deceiving. Sometimes, you need to look past what you pay for and focus instead on what it can cost you if you don’t have the right power of attorney in place.
If you ever need nursing home care, it’s a pretty safe bet that your power of attorney forms not only may be used, they will be. After all, if you could still handle your own affairs, you wouldn’t need to be in a nursing home.
In the case of a power of attorney for property, the wrong form, or one that has not been personalized to address your individual needs, can wind up being a very expensive mistake.
Sometimes, you need to look past what you pay for and focus instead on what it can cost you if you don’t have the right power of attorney in place.
Most “simple” power of attorney forms give your agent the authority to pay your bills and spend your money. But they do not include the special language that gives your agent the ability to help protect your assets from Medicaid spend-down, or to enable you to qualify for VA Aid and Attendance benefits. If you haven’t given that authority, the only way that it can be obtained is by first initiating guardianship or conservatorship proceedings, and then filing a petition in those proceedings requesting that the court authorize those actions being taken. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the court will give that approval.
Even if a court eventually authorizes steps to protect your assets, the time it takes to get that accomplished can cost you many thousands of dollars as your life savings are depleted month after month … when that could have been avoided if only your agent could have done what needed to be done.
Generally speaking, it takes three months to process a guardianship or conservatorship and then to request and obtain court approval of planning measures directed toward protecting your assets. Don’t be surprised if the legal fees, court costs and other expenses of the court proceedings add up to $3,500 or more. In the meanwhile, you continue to “bleed money” for nursing home care at a cost of $5,500 per month. There’s another $16,500.
Add it up, and you’ll see that having a “wrong” financial power of attorney document can end up costing you $20,000 – probably more, since nursing home costs seem always to increase over time. A comprehensive power of attorney, drafted by an elder law attorney who understands what it needs to say to serve you well “when the pedal hits the metal,” is one of the wisest investments you could ever make.
Dent-Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Dent-Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (877)995-6876 or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.