Rhode Island Bar Journal
56 RI Bar J., No. 4, Pg. 5.
Drafting A Durable Power of Attorney for Elder Law Clients
Rhode Island Bar JournalVolume 56, No. 4, Pg. 5 January/February 2008 Drafting A Durable Power of Attorney for Elder Law ClientsLaura M. Krohn, Esq.Practices from the Law Office of Laura Krohn in East Greenwich.
In elder law, I am asked daily by clients and their advisors "what can be done now to protect and prepare for the future?" The answer, in this author's opinion, starts with executing a Durable Power of Attorney. Doing so can reduce future legal expenses and maintain privacy and dignity for clients and their families.
On the priority list, I tell clients that their Last Will & Testament is the least important document. After all, they are dead when it actually comes time to test the document. Right? It is most important to protect and serve our clients while they are alive. We can begin to do that through a properly drafted Durable Power of Attorney. Of course, the other documents such as the Last Will & Testament and Health Care Power of Attorney are important and necessary. They are just not the most important.
I hesitate to call a power of attorney a simple document. However, many clients who come into the office state that what they want is a "simple power of attorney." After explaining that the document gives someone the power to manage your affairs, I have their attention, and they realize it is not such a simple document after all. It can be a very powerful document.
When meeting with clients to discuss the power of attorney, I explain what the document does, what makes the document durable, the different types of powers of attorney (Limited Power of Attorney, General Power of Attorney, Springing Power of Attorney), why the client needs the document, gifting powers, how to choose an agent, and agent compensation.
More and more, banks, institutions, financial planners, accountants and others request power of attorney documentation when we seek information from them on behalf of our clients. Without a power of attorney, no one is allowed to make financial or other management decisions for our clients, unless the probate court appoints a conservator or a guardian. That requires a showing of incapacity and a significant expense to the client and/or their family. Creation of a durable power of attorney is less expensive and more...