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Will Your Trusted Decision Maker Be a Hero or Villain?

Failing to Appoint Trusted Decision Makers

While Halloween, The Exorcist, or The Shining may top your list as some of the scariest horror films ever, I Care a Lot is the stuff of real-life nightmares. The movie I Care a Lot tells the story of a con artist named Marla Grayson who makes a living by becoming the court-appointed guardian of vulnerable elders who she places in a nursing home, where they are sedated and left unable to manage their affairs. Meanwhile, Marla sells all of the elderly person’s belongings and property and pockets the cash, while the elderly person’s family members watch helplessly. Fortunately, this nightmarish circumstance can be avoided by doing one simple thing.

By naming trusted decision makers in your estate planning documents, particularly in financial and medical powers of attorney, and updating these documents regularly, you can avoid being placed at the mercy of a court appointed guardian like Marla Grayson. A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to make financial and medical decisions for you when you are unable to make them for yourself. You can customize your choices by appointing one person to make financial decisions and another person to make medical decisions. You can even choose backups to act as alternates in case your first choice cannot or will not act.

Unfortunately, if you do not choose someone to be your decision maker, or if the person you have chosen cannot or will not act, the state may choose someone for you. This person will have extensive authority to act on your behalf, but at this point, you will have no say in who that person should be. Sadly, the person chosen by the court could be a family member who you do not want making decisions for you or a court-appointed person with bad intentions, such as Marla Grayson. With the odds of becoming incapacitated stacked against you, this is not something you want to leave to chance, particularly when the solution is so easy.

You can avoid a real-life nightmare by taking the simple step of creating or updating your power of attorney. We know how important it is to select the right person to be your trusted decision maker, and we would be happy to help you create or update this important piece of your estate plan.


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Wood, Kull, Herschfus, Obee & Kull, P.C.

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