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Does My Spouse Need a Power of Attorney?

Yal Kar KocaThere are many reasons for a spouse to have power of attorney.  The rights awarded to a spouse on the basis of the legal contract of marriage is more limited than you might think.  A power of attorney will grant the spouse the authority to make decisions in the event the other spouse is unable to.

Protection of Assets

In the event one spouse becomes incapacitated in some form or another via accident, aging or terminal illness, bills are still able to be paid from joint accounts.  The conflict arises from the ability to sell joint assets such as homes and cars when the titles are held in both names, or the other incapacitated spouse’s name.  In the event your spouse does not have a power of attorney, the process to have the necessary authority is long, expensive and arduous.  To better protect your joint assets, a durable power of attorney is a fairly easy way to ensure you are ready to handle affairs should the need arrive unexpectedly one day.

Durable Power of Attorney

All that means is that the power of attorney persists unto death.  There is usually one for finances and a separate one for medical decisions.  This is beneficial even if the spouse makes a full recovery.  They can be revoked at any time, but it is much more difficult to have put in place when the incapacitated spouse is unable to initiate the legal documentation.

This is because a judge must sign the document.  If it becomes necessary for a power of attorney and you are not able to choose your “attorney in fact”, a court date must be set to present evidence that you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.  There are two main problems with this.  One is that this process takes time for such a quick and simple act under ordinary circumstances.  The other problem is that family members may get involved.  Without you there to decide, your wishes may not be respected in the way you want.

Alternative Solution

One other consideration that you may want to look at is the ability to name a separate power of attorney.  If you feel your spouse may not be the best person to represent your interests, you may choose another family member and in some instances, a guardianship with court supervision can protect your assets and medical decisions if you think your family will resort to fighting.

Widerman Malek Attorneys

If you have any questions regarding power of attorney or any other legal matters, our attorneys at Widerman Malek would be happy to help. Contact us today to see how we can help you.