As we age, our bodies and minds start to move more slowly. For this reason, seniors are often vulnerable to financial abuse. It is critically important to address how we want our finances managed in our golden years before it is too late. When a solid plan is put into place, rightful caregivers will have a much easier time taking care of aging loved ones. In the absence of a well designed and executed plan, even caregivers with the best intentions can face complex legal challenges.
Let’s look further into some of the legal battles a caregiver can face.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a document that gives someone the right to act on one’s behalf. The individual named can make decisions on public matters, business issues, and any legal matters for the individual represented. The person who names another to be power of attorney is known as either the principal, grantor, or the donor of the power. Choosing the right person for this crucial role is a key element of your long-term plan.
When it comes to your finances, you could be subject to intimidation or deceit by others who want control if you are at a weakened mental capacity. This is why it is important to choose a rightful POA thoughtfully when you are of sound mind. Even when close family members like children are named POA, this does not mean that legal struggles will not arise. Perhaps other siblings feel they are better for the job and bitter legal battles ensue. Potentially, none of the children are appointed and someone outside of the family is forced to take over. A broken family dynamic can be followed by hurt feelings.
In some situations, there is the ability to divide POA responsibilities. There are two types of decisions that must be made when it comes to POA — financial and medical. Responsibilities can be split between different parties based on their innate strengths, which can better balance power. Of course, these individuals must be able to effectively work together to avoid further legal complications.
What Happens When No Power of Attorney is Granted?
When a person becomes incompetent or unable to think clearly or make decisons, a process for seeking guardianship follows. It can be a harsh, lengthy, and very costly endeavor to find a trustworthy individual for the job.
Additionally, a POA who was appointed sometimes mishandled the affairs of the grantor. In this unfortunate situation, the process of seeking guardianship may also be initiated.
How are the Elderly Taken Advantage of?
Sadly, elder abuse comes in many forms. As the number of aging individuals in the United States continues to increase, and as technology keeps the aging population viable, the incidence of diseases associated with advanced age continues to rise, as well. Alzheimer’s cases in the US have risen steadily. Research suggests that out of all Americans who are aged 65 and older, up to 25% have some cognitive impairment while 10% have full-on dementia.
The number of dementia cases only continues to grow in the country. In the year 2000, for instance, there were 4.1 million people suffering from this ailment, but in 2012 that number went up to 4.5 million. Those who are plagued by mental inefficiencies are most vulnerable to scammers and fraudsters looking to make a quick buck.
How can You Protect Your Aging Loved One?
Even when officially named caregivers are doing an honest and legitimate job of taking care of an elderly individual, that aging loved one can still be attacked. When high stakes responsibilities and powers are involved, people on the outside can become jealous and spiteful. As such, they can spew vitriol and slander against caregivers such as accusing them of abuse. Unfortunately, even if the disparaging claims made are false, that does not stop the law from interceding. When these situations occur, legal battles often follow.
Lack of Estate Administration
It is not uncommon for people to fail to ever set up a will. A will, or more formally, a “Last Will and Testament,” is a legal document that describes how one’s estate is going to be disbursed after one’s death, including debts. There are many ways to legally plan for the administration of your estate to reduce potential pitfalls with family members, and the easiest of those is often making a will.
If a will is not updated on a regular basis, it can cause family squabbles that will cause expensive setbacks in the beginning of the probate process. If a will is not made at all, there is also in-depth legal litigation that is required that will equally put a delay on obtaining inheritance. It can also cause family who believes they will inherit parts of the estate to obtain much less than expected or nothing at all.
Do You Need to Talk to an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Wisconsin?
An experienced Wisconsin estate planning attorney at the Walny Legal Group is a good place to start helping yourself or your loved one develop a well-designed and functional plan for the future. Our team of Milwaukee elder law attorneys is here to help with the planning stages and in the crisis-management stages of elder and disability law. We are dedicated to assisting our clients in having a solid advanced planning strategy in place, especially in cases of incapacity with regards to powers of attorney and living wills. Additionally, in the absence of these legal documents, we have extensive experience defending clients’ during guardianship actions.
The Walny Legal Group’s team of Wisconsin asset protection attorneys will help you protect your life’s work and accomplishments with a comprehensive and customized plan. Call us today and speak with one of our talented Milwaukee, Wisconsin estate planning attorneys at (414) 775-3780. We look forward to working with you and providing you compassionate help with your stressful elder law, guardianship action, asset protection plan, or estate planning strategy so you are able to move forward with the least stress as possible.