Statistics show that we are living longer than previous generations and that we are more likely to experience a disabling mental or physical condition prior to our death.
Appointing someone to manage your financial and medical affairs during such disability with a Durable Power of Attorney can avoid the need to have a Court appoint someone to make those decisions for you. Without a Durable Power of Attorney in place, the only way a family member can handle your financial affairs or make medical decisions for you is to go through the legal process of having a Court appoint that family member as your Conservator. This process can cost thousands of dollars in legal fees and can take several months or more to complete, all of which could be avoided by spending a fraction of that expense in legal fees for the preparation of Durable Power of Attorney documents [financial and medical].
Why does it cost so much for a Conservatorship to be appointed, you ask? Because it involves a statutory procedure with many strict requirements that must be met and enforced by the Court in order to protect you and your property from being mis-managed by the wrong person. It is a very, very good thing that these requirements are in place and designed for your protection, but the expense associated with the process is not something you want to voluntarily be involved in, which is why everyone needs a Durable Power of Attorney appointing someone to make those decisions for them. Not only is it an expensive procedure, you also loose the privacy of keeping your medical and financial condition between you and your family. A Conservatorship proceeding requires the filing of both a Medical Certificate from your physician stating the nature of your mental and/or physical disability and a Property Management Plan showing your monthly income and expenses with plans for managing that income and expenses. Once a Conservator is appointed, he/she must file annual accountings with the Court regarding their management of your income and expenses and those annual reports to the Court continue until your death, or until you recover from your disability and a Conservator is no longer needed.
The unnecessary legal expense and loss of privacy involved in Conservatorship proceedings are just a couple reasons why you should consult an estate planning attorney to have both Medical and Financial Durable Powers of Attorney prepared for you and your family members.