Do YOU have a durable power of attorney?

So, I haven’t been on RCG for a while because I am gone from Seattle to Wichita, KS where I and my siblings are on hospital watch. My parents were hit by a drunk driver on Monday night and so I caught a flight here immediately since both of them were in the hospital with injuries. My dad has a brain injury and has been unconscious for several days now. For anyone that is interested in reading my blogs about the experience feel free to do so at this link:
When I’m working with clients there are always situations that come up where we have to deal with difficult circumstances. My partner, Michael, and I frequently ask our clients if they have a durable power of attorney. Typically we make it for a specific property based on the transaction and usually the title company has to approve the POA to insure the purchase. Sometimes the POA is put in place under in the context of just making sure we are able to get signatures if there is a spouse or partner that travels a lot or an out of country trip is planned that would make it difficult to get notices or addendums signed. I’ve used these when I have siblings in multiple states as well who are buying or selling property.

Thankfully my parents did put together POA’s about 4 years ago. My mother is a REALTOR(R) in Wichita and my dad works with her as a licensed agent. They also own several rental properties and they had just received mutual acceptance on an offer for one the day they got in the accident.  My mother is conscious, although on pain medication for her broken bones, and she is aware enough that she knows what is going on and can sign things for herself. However, while I am my dad’s medical POA one of my siblings is his financial POA.  I’ll likely have my sister sign for my dad just so there is no question about mental faculties with my mom when the additional paperwork for this transaction is turned in.

It’s been a relief for me (and I think my mom too) to be able to come in and help out with her business while she and dad are in the hospital. I can’t practice real estate agency in Kansas but I have contacted some other agents that know my mom (she’s been an agent 20 years) and they’ll help with any items that require licensing and I’ll be a knowledgeable “gopher”. This also relieves stress from my siblings who may not know what they should do for her contracts and listings. I hadn’t really considered I’d have to help out in this way, but I sure am glad that I can.  It helps to also give me something else to think about rather than my dad in ICU.

My comments to all that read RCG is that if you don’t have a durable power of attorney for your personal affairs you really should do it and the sooner the better. You never know when a truck will slam into you and render you unconscious and you’ll need help with your medical and personal affairs such as paying bills. We stress this kind of long term planning to pretty much all of our clients and we host a client event every year that covers things like this to prevent more cases like Terry Schiavo. I hope you’ll consider it and go do it soon yourself.

18 thoughts on “Do YOU have a durable power of attorney?

  1. Reba, I hope your parents have a speedy recovery. It’s very kind of you to use your tough circumstances to share this advice of others. It’s very sound advice. People should also have their POAs reviewed to make sure they are still how they would like them to be. My husband and I set ours last year when we married. It wasn’t fun or romantic. However I’m glad it’s done.

    Best wishes to you and your family.

  2. Hi Reba,

    I’m sorry to hear of this tragedy in your family…I hope both your Mom & Dad pull though alright. I’ve experienced different, but equally challenging things with my own family (Goodness…it seems I no sooner passed the bar exam, when I was unexpectedly plunged into learning estate planning & probate stuff…but that’s a whole other story).

    What you about the importance of getting a DGPOA is correct; however, it’s only part of an estate plan. At a bare minimum everyone should have what I call my 3 “core” estate planning doc’s: DGPOA, Health Care POA (aka “Living Will”), and Last Will and Testament. Of course, you can “kick it up a notch” (thank you, Emeril), and set up a Living Trust to avoid probate (and to make estate administration easier, which can be a big issue, particularly for more complicated estates that may have property in several different states, for example). If you have estate tax planning matters, and/or medicaid/medicare planning to do then you’ll almost always be setting up a trust(s) to compliment these 3 core estate planning doc’s.

    Again, I hope all works out for you and your family.

    ~Joe Lawyer~

  3. Reba ~
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    In the past two years, both of my parents have gone into a nursing home in Indiana – 2,000 miles from Boise, where I live.
    I had to have both declared mentally incompetent and become their legal guardian.
    I now manage their health care, finances, and pay their bills and it is a challenge that absorbs 50% of my time and most of my emotional energy.
    Driving to Indiana next week to finish cleaning out their home, list it, and bring back valuables.
    Thankfully, they had a living trust, will, etc. and I have (barely) been able to get my arms around their affairs.
    It took me 8 months to figure out what Mom and Dad had, deal with investment companies who wouldn’t talk to me, get control of their finances, etc.
    Best advice I can offer anyone with aging parents is that you MUST talk about things before something goes wrong.
    Once they become incapacitated, it is much more difficult to handle the challenges.
    Best to you.

  4. Reba,

    I am so sorry to hear about your family’s tragedy. Your parents are fortunate to have you and your siblings to provide love and support. This weekend is Easter, and I will be praying for their full recovery.

    I read your myspace blog and can only imagine how difficult is for you to deal with the emotional ups and downs.


  5. Pingback: A year later - A DUI case gets its day in court and the victims get their day in the paper | Rain City Guide | A Seattle Real Estate Blog...

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