A power of attorney is a good idea for nearly everyone in Maryland. With one, you can name a person to manage your financial affairs in case you become disabled. But what happens if you don’t have a power of attorney?
If you become disabled, you may need someone else to manage your finances. Without a valid power of attorney, your family would have to petition the court to appoint a guardian. The person chosen as guardian by the court may not be the person you would want. The guardian may have to pay for expenses like court fees, attorney fees, and a bond as well as make regular accounting and inventory reports to the court.
Example: Philip is in a car accident and is hospitalized for several weeks. During that time he is heavily medicated and not aware of his surroundings. His rent becomes due and he needs someone to pay his bills from his bank account. His family petitions the court to appoint a guardian. The court appoints the person with the highest priority under law. In Philip’s case, this is Jerry, his older brother. Philp does not talk to Jerry regularly, and would have preferred that his cousin, Felicia, manage his finances. Jerry pays for the costs of the court fees and an accountant he uses out of Philip’s own money.
In some situations, the oversight of the court may be a benefit.
Example: Lance is a single man in his 60s. He is not close to his living family members. After discussing his options with his lawyer, he decides to not draft a power of attorney rather than name someone he does not trust. If Lance is ever disabled, the court will appoint someone to manage Lance’s property who is subject to judicial oversight.
The best solution for most people is to create a power of attorney now in case disability strikes in the future. Talk with an experience estate planning lawyer to see what is best for you.
Montefusco Estate Planning, LLC is an estate planning law firm in Frederick, MD. If you are interested in our services, contact us today. This information is written for the context of Maryland estate planning but is not legal advice for anyone. For more information, read our disclaimer.