Beth Pinsker: ‘It broke me’: Everyone says you need power of attorney, but nobody tells you how hard it is to use

by | Mar 2, 2023 | Stock Market

When I went to the bank to execute my mother’s durable power of attorney during her recent hospital stay, the manager peered at me through the glass partition at the front desk and shook his head no. He didn’t even look at the sheaf of properly signed and notarized papers I held up pleadingly. He just said, “Sorry, if your mother isn’t able to come in herself to take care of things, you’ll need a court order.”  Luckily, I was armed with knowledge from estate-planning experts and people who had been through this before. I stood my ground. 

A power-of-attorney document is an absolutely essential piece of estate planning that allows you to designate a trusted person to handle your financial matters if you should become incapacitated. If you don’t have one, the people in your life will have all sorts of trouble handling your affairs, and you may end up with bills in collection and your mortgage payments past due.  “I’ve seen foreclosures that could have been avoided if somebody had power of attorney,” says Eric J. Einhart, an officer on the board of directors of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, who practices in New York. Most advice you’ll see about power-of-attorney documents is aimed at the person filling one out (known as the principal) rather than the person who has to actually use it (known as the agent). But the agent is the one who really needs the help, b …

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