WHAT IF I NEED HELP MANAGING MY AFFAIRS DURING MY LIFETIME?
Powers of Attorney
Powers of Attorney are tools that are implemented during your lifetime in the event you are unable to manage your financial affair or make decisions for your care that require informed consent. In Colorado, no Estate Plan is complete without at least two essential Powers of Attorney.
Under a Durable Medical Power of attorney, you are able to appoint and “Agent” to carry out your own directives regarding your medical care or make decisions for your care that are in your best interest if you unable to do so. A Statutory Power of Attorney or General Durable Power of attorney is when you appoint an “Agent” to handle your financial affairs. Under a Statutory Power of Attorney, your Agent can manage your day-to-day financial affairs, such as paying your bills, managing your financial accounts, and filing your income tax returns. There are also special powers you may grant under a Statutory Power of Attorney which allow your Agent to guide your estate plan in the event you are unable to do so.
A Power of Attorney is a useful tool for instructing your loved ones regarding your care and well-being and preventing the implementation of a Guardianship or Conservatorship against your wishes.
Our firm can also assist with the preparation of Living Wills, Advance Medical directives, and Proxy Decision Making for medical care.
Guardianships and conservatorships
In Colorado, a Guardianship occurs when an individual is found to be “incapacitated” and his or her needs cannot be met by less restrictive means. If the criteria for a Guardianship are satisfied after a hearing in Court, a Guardian will be appointed by the Court to manage an individual’s welfare, including health decisions, medical treatment, and needs for day-to-day care. The Guardian appointed by the court must file an annual report describing the ward’s medical needs, welfare, and living situation.
A conservatorship case is more complicated than a Guardianship. A conservatorship occurs when an individual is found to be “incapacitated” and his or her needs cannot be met by less restrictive means. However, in a Conservatorship the Judge appoints someone to handle a person’s financial affairs if the Judge thinks a person’s assets or property will be wasted unless the Court intervenes. The Conservator appointed by the court must file an annual report documenting the protected person’s income and provide an accounting for how the protected person’s money was used.
Guardianships and conservatorships can be lengthy, costly, and require the Court’s continued involvement in the protected person’s affairs. Guardianships and conservatorships normally involve situations where a power of attorney is not in place or does not provide sufficient powers to manage the protected person’s personal or financial needs. In most cases Guardianships and Conservatorships can be avoided if a proper estate plan is in place with the necessary powers of attorney.