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Power of Attorney – Dad’s Journey
Expressing your wishes #2
We are gong to continue on from last week with the documents we probably all need to have. As I said last post, with such complex and divisive documents such as these, please read these thoughts as general in nature. Unless you are feeling absolutely confident with these matters, please use the expertise of a lawyer you are comfortable with. Make the choices, have the discussions while you still can. The last thing anyone would want to do is to make the interpretation of these wishes uncertain. Today we are going to look at Powers of Attorney.
Whereas Advance Care Directives are concerned with how you will be physically looked after when you can longer make the decisions yourself, a Power of Attorney deals with the handling of your legal and financial affairs when you are unable to. Payment of bills, access to bank accounts as well as legal decisions, etc. With my Dad, he had an Enduring Power of Attorney, which meant we could make these decisions at any time when Dad could not. Much trust comes with such powers, and so it is critical that much discussion happens prior to the time the power is required to be used.
As I shared last blog there is nothing like practical examples of when these documents are used, to make a little more sense, I can draw on the experience when my own Dad died in 2013. As a family we knew that time was short, and so I thought it may be prudent to speak to some key financial advisers in Dad’s life, including his bank and financial planner. As there are key things that need to happen before death, I wanted to ensure the process would be a simple one. It was at these meetings we were able to all be on the same page, as well as alerting people time, was maybe, running short. So when the time came to act, all I had to do was make the call, and the actions, which needed to be immediate, were taken.
This may sound a little ‘focused’ to you as the reader, but because of prior conversations with Dad, where he got me to promise when the time came, I would do all in my power for his affairs to be handled simply, these actions were in accordance with his wishes and desires. Because of discussions with key people, and ‘testing’ the Power of Attorney it was indeed a simple process.
We are a small family, with no complexity. This made the Power of Attorney process simple. I can also understand in some families, there is complexity and differences of opinion making such decisions tricky. There is nothing like financial affairs to bring out the worst in us. The wishes may become lost in the ‘confusion.’ In such families like this, it may be better to have an independent person handle these arrangements to ensure the best outcome for the family. As I have already said, some things are better off done, before death if possible. This may require someone with a ‘cool’ and ‘measured’ head.
One of the immediate costs after death, unless there is an arrangement in place is the funeral or memorial costs. I know for Dad’s bank, as I had Power of Attorney, I was able to pay the funeral expenses out of Dad’s bank account. This was the only expense that could be paid out of his personal account. After death, a whole plethora of financial things need to happen. You may want to check out the payment of funeral expenses if you are facing this time yourself.
We have looked at Advance Care Directives and Powers of Attorney so far. Dad’s journey and how his wishes were carried out through his verbal and legal arrangements will continue in the next few blogs.
The commentary in this blog is intended to be general in nature. It is just some observations from one fellow traveller in life to another. If anything in this blog raises issues for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or consult with a trusted medical professional. There is definitely some family discussion required here, together with legal advice.