I have worked with spouses and family members in situations where a Power of Attorney is needed due to an accident and the couple, parent, young adult child has never drafted the documents. After the age of 18, a parent can not make medical or financial decisions for their child. Technically, a spouse cannot make those decisions either without a valid Power of Attorney document. Here is a case that I handled recently.
A woman called my office in this situation: her husband tripped at home, banged his head and was taken unconscious to the ICU at the local hospital. He had never drafted a Medical Power of Attorney document so she was unable to make medical decisions for his care. The doctor was unable to follow her wishes without this document. The husband could not get a Power of Attorney while he was unconscious. We were forced to go to court to file for a guardianship and conservatorship over him. Now she could make medical and financial decisions on his behalf. This was time consuming and it was costly. After eight weeks the husband died, never regaining consciousness. He did have a Will so his wife hired us to handle the estate process. She owned her own small business and had missed days of work due to her husband's accident. He had properties and a bank account in another state in addition to his Colorado holdings. We closed accounts, consolidated assets, sold property, handled paying medical bills and other outstanding bills that had built up during the last few months, retitled the home and finally drafted a Will and Power of Attorney documents for her so their children could avoid this mess if anything happened to her in the future.
When we contacted the husband's employer we discovered that he had a life insurance policy and a 401 k policy. Typically this would have been some good news for his wife. Yet, both the life insurance policy and the 401k had beneficiaries listed in the event of his death. Both policies listed his ex-wife, who he had divorced 20 years ago, as the beneficiary. For the life insurance, we did go to court to get that overturned but it was costly and time consuming. The 401K went to the husband's ex-wife. It is critically important that those beneficiary designations are kept current as you can see and that you have current documents in place as unforeseen events happen when we least expect them to.
Give us a call and schedule an appointment to get these documents done. It will save someone in your family a lot of time and expense someday.