In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson discusses the importance of POAs.
Hi! I’m Wes Coulson from Dent-Coulson Elder Law, proudly serving clients throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area and beyond. I’d like to welcome you to our Elder Law and Estate Planning Minute. We do these to help educate people, give them some little tips, and especially to let them know the questions they need to ask, things that they’ve maybe not thought of. Our thought on that is that we can help you best if you realize the things that you need help and that we can help you with. So I hope you enjoy. Thanks!
When we have someone call the office to say “my mom, or my dad, is going into a nursing home and would like to have you help with planning to help protect as much of their assets as possible”. The first question we always ask, two-parter, first, do you have a power of attorney for property? And whether you do or don’t, is your mom, or dad as the case may be, competent enough to sign one, if need be?
That’s a really important question, and here’s why. In order to move assets out of harm’s way on someone’s behalf, you have to have the authority to do that. The best way to get that authority is from a power of attorney for property in your favor. Now, the reason that we ask about competent to sign a new one, even if there is one already in place, is that not all powers of attorney are created equal. Think of a power of attorney as being like a tool kit, if you’ve ever done any jobs and have had to run to the hardware in the middle of a job because you didn’t have a tool, you’ll understand that not all tool kits include the same tools.
Well, the basic tools in a power of attorney tool kit are things that fall under the heading of: pay my bills, manage my finances, take care of my business. They don’t include the authority to make gifts, or do other things that fall under the heading of: get assets out of harm’s way to protect them. So, it’s not enough just to have a power of attorney, you have to have the right power of attorney.
Be very mindful of that, get the right powers of attorney in place from a good elder law attorney while the parent is still competent to sign one, because otherwise it can present a real problem down the road. In Illinois, through expensive guardianship proceedings we can still get it done. In Missouri, it can not be done in the equivalent conservatorship proceedings, so, particularly in Missouri, having the right power of attorney in place is critically important. Thanks!
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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 (618) 632-7000 (IL) or (314) 567-9292 (MO), or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.