When Do You Need a Special Power of Attorney?

A special power of attorney can help you take care of business when you're unavailable.
A special power of attorney can help you take care of business when you’re unavailable.

Yahoo Finance’s recent article entitled “What is Special Power of Attorney?” explains that with a general power of attorney, you can designate a person to make decisions when you are unable, due to illness or incapacity. A general power of attorney allows your agent (the person you select) to do almost anything related to your financial affairs that you could do, including, for example, file your tax returns, sell your house, access bank records, or sign financial contracts in your name. There are usually few, if any, limitations.

A special power of attorney only applies to specific circumstances. This is also called limited power of attorney. An agent named in a special or limited power of attorney can only act in situations included in your power of attorney document. Maybe you’re traveling or out of town when an important transaction need to take place. A special power of attorney is often used to sell property when the buyer or seller is unable to attend the closing in person. In a special power of attorney you can set limitations and conditions under which your agent is authorized to act.

You can have multiple special powers of attorney, depending on your situation. You may want to give one agent the power to run your business while you’re away and give another agent the power to sell your car.

Remember that a special power of attorney, like a general power of attorney, only applies during your lifetime. If the special power of attorney does not include a date when it terminates, it must end when you pass away. Your assets would then be managed pursuant to the terms of your will or trust, if you have either. If a person dies without a will, then in most cases the assets are distributed according to the probate laws of the state where the person lived.

Typically, creating special power of attorney involves the following:

  • Naming a person to act as your agent
  • Detailing the specific terms under which a power of attorney will take effect
  • Determining which authority your agent will have
  • Designating a successor agent, if necessary, and
  • Choosing an end date for the power of attorney to terminate

A special power of attorney is just one of the documents you may need for your estate plan. You should also ask your estate planning attorney about a last will and testament and a living trust to help you manage assets, according to your wishes after you pass away. Other critical documents include advance health care directives which state the kind of care you should receive when you can’t make medical decisions for yourself.

For more information on other estate planning documents you may need see https://www.galliganmanning.com/living-wills-and-medical-powers-of-attorney-why-they-are-important/.

Reference: Yahoo Finance (Feb. 28, 2020) “What is Special Power of Attorney?”


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How Can Caregivers Find Time for Self-Care?

Family caregivers need to take time out for self care.
Family caregivers need to take time out for self care.

It’s not uncommon for a caregiver to start their journey in a crisis when a family member gets a devastating diagnosis—like Alzheimer’s, cancer, or heart disease—that causes physical or cognitive restrictions on independent daily living.

Considerable’s recent article entitled “How family caregivers can use a Monday routine to reinvent self-care” reports that more than 34 million Americans are caring for a loved one over the age of 50.

Although many caregivers take on their role willingly, they may be forfeiting much needed time for self-care. These sacrifices can accumulate over time, since most caregivers spend an average of four years and 80-160 hours a month in their caregiving role. For individuals taking care of a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it can be double that with additional stress.

Creating a routine can give calm to caregivers. A program that is based on a healthy weekly routine is Caregiver Monday, part of The Monday Campaign’s nonprofit public health initiative.

Most caregivers have their regular routines drastically changed, when caring for a family member, This gives caregivers a feeling of a loss of control. When added to the inability to control the disease or disability that impacts loved ones, caregivers can suddenly feel overwhelmed with increased anxiety and chronic stress. This psychological state is called loss of locus of control and has two paths: (i) internal locus of control; and (ii) external locus of control. Caregivers can’t gain external locus of control over the situation or disease, but they can increase internal locus of control—that’s the response they have to these situations. Creating a new routine is part of reestablishing internal locus of control.

A routine can help caregivers cope with change, focus on healthy habits and decrease their stress. It can also help restore balance in a caregiver’s life. Monday gives us a natural refresh point, because it’s part of our cultural DNA. Monday is the start of the work week and the school week, so it makes sense that caregivers can use Monday as the start of a sustainable effort towards improved self-care.

Caregiver Monday provides self-care practices and promotion, and focuses on physical, emotional and social health behavioral change, by helping caregivers commit to weekly efforts. A 2019 survey of 1,000 adult Americans conducted by Data Decisions Group for The Monday Campaigns found that 64% of respondents said if they begin on Monday with a positive frame of mind, they’re more apt to remain positive for the rest of the week. Those surveyed reported they were also more likely to start exercise routines, eat healthier and make doctor’s appointments on Mondays.

Here are three ideas to begin a Caregiver Monday routine. Instead of the Monday blues, caregivers can use Monday as their personal “Fun Day,” to focus on themselves. Caregivers can:

  • Follow Caregiver Monday on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for ideas every week on finding self-care practices.
  • Get involved with the caregiving community on these social sites to feel less alone.
  • Ask friends and family to assist with respite care to get a self-care break.

Even with the disruption and the distress, caregivers can use Monday to have a little fun. You can don your favorite color on Mondays or watch YouTube videos of baby animals (a scientific study shows that this can have a positive effect on mood and productivity). Most importantly, thank yourself with little self-care activities and be grateful you can be there for your family member every day.

For more information on issues of concern for the elderly see  https://www.galliganmanning.com/elder-financial-abuse-is-increasing/.

Reference: Considerable (May 11, 2020) “How family caregivers can use a Monday routine to reinvent self-care”


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Your Nosy Neighbor Can Find Out About Your Probate

Your neighbor can find out all about your probate process and the assets you owned.
Your nosy neighbor can find out all about your probate process and the assets you owned.

Most people think of probate (the process of collecting, managing, and distributing a deceased person’s money and property) as a private process. However, because wills are filed at the courthouse, probated estates become a matter of public record. That means your nosy neighbor from down the street or a long lost family member can simply go down to the courthouse or hop online and find out about your probate and the assets you owned. Really.

And it’s not just your neighbor who has access to this information. After a death, Texas law requires that the person having possession of the deceased person’s will must file it with the probate court –even if there won’t be any probate court proceedings.

While your neighbor may be an annoyance and have no reason to view the information other than out of curiosity, others can get access to your public records and make your beneficiaries’ lives miserable.

Financial predators.

While today’s digital world is convenient, it’s also dangerous. Financial predators find ways to access sensitive personal information online. Since courts are part of a bureaucratic process that often moves slowly, months can elapse before you (or the court) realizes that your beneficiaries have been swindled.

Will Challengers.

Since a will that is filed with the probate court becomes a public record, those believing they have an interest (whether valid or invalid) can access the document and challenge the will. This can result in added costs and time defending the will from what could amount to a frivolous claim.

Avoid the “Nosy Neighbor” Factor with a Revocable Living Trust.

Revocable living trusts are almost never filed with a court, either before or after your death. Probate courts are not involved in supervising your trust administration. So, you can avoid intrusions by busy bodies and predators by creating a revocable living trust. A trust is the best way to keep your financial and family affairs private.

For more about estate planning issues see https://www.galliganmanning.com/practice-areas/estate-planning/.

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