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POA is not enough

Most of us are aware of the Power of Attorney (or POA) as a tool to help manage our financial and physical well being in the event of a cognitive and/or physical diminishment. While a POA is necessary, it can only identify who we want our legal representatives will be in such a situation.

But what about everything else? What about budgets, financial obligations, goals, and desires for a time when you can’t make decisions for yourself? Unfortunately, once you suffer from a cognitive impairment, you may no longer have the legal capacity to help your family deal with your care. Your family will be forced to make decisions and act on your behalf, and the high emotion of a family crisis coupled with unclear direction is a formula for conflict and family strain. You have seen it in your community. As a law firm, we see it every day as we help families struggle through the consequences of inadequate preparation. You need to have a plan in place before this happens.

The good news is you can start planning with your family now. Working with a lawyer to create a Family Care Plan ensures the success of your family at difficult times by documenting a strategy for your care and putting legal tools in place to make sure that those you have chosen to act for are legally able to do so.

Some questions to consider for your Family Care Plan:

• Do you want to stay in your home?

• How much will it cost? How much are you willing to spend?

• Who will help you? Will your family be hiring people?

• What do you want in a care home if needed?

• Where do you definitely not want to live?

A Family Care Plan gives your family a clear course of action at a time when they may no longer be able to rely on your direction. It also creates a common objective for your family; when everyone feels they have been heard they are more invested in the plan and are more likely to stick to it.

These conversations can be difficult, so your lawyer can function as a neutral third party, as well as legal advisor.•

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