According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 47 million people living with dementia world-wide. This number is projected to increase by 60% in the next 13 years - to 75 million by 2030. One new case of dementia is diagnosed every three seconds - the numbers are overwhelming.
With these odds, we all must think about appointing an agent or someone to make decisions on our behalf if we cannot do so for ourselves.
Enter the underrated power of attorney. The term is common enough but has different meanings in different contexts. General Durable Power of Attorney, however, has a very specific meaning in estate planning. In its broadest terms, it is a contract appointing someone to act for you as an "agent." A General Durable Power of Attorney can allow you to continue functioning after you become incapacitated without requiring the Guardian and Conservator appointment process.
In South Carolina, if you become incapacitated without appointing an Agent in a General Durable Power of Attorney, someone may only act for you after being appointed through Probate Court actions - a Guardian to help you manage your daily affairs, and a Conservator, someone to manage your financial affairs. A well-drafted, tailored General Durable Power of Attorney will grant just enough power to allow someone to help you meet your goals while also preventing abuse.
A General Durable Power of Attorney is not a cure-all and carries significant risk. While it is inexpensive to download a General Durable Power of Attorney template from the internet, doing so could harm you. Due to the broad powers they contain, they also provide abundant opportunities for elder abuse.
Call me today to discuss whether a General Durable Power of Attorney is right for you.
Here are three key points South Carolinians should Durable Powers of Attorney:
South Carolina's Uniform Power of Attorney Act was significantly changed effective January 1, 2017. If you have an older version, now would be a good time to have an attorney review it for you.
South Carolina's revised Uniform Power of Attorney Act now allows you to sue third parties (banks, other businesses) in court to require compliance and, if you win, the other party could be ordered to pay your attorney fees and costs.
To qualify for Medicaid, have provisions allowing an Agent to make gifts on your behalf and allow Agent compensation in your General Durable Power of Attorney.