Blueprints For The Future
While we often discuss the benefits of having a will, it is also important to have documents in place to protect you and your family during your lifetime in cases of disability or incapacity. A will is only effective after your death but use of planning tools are effective during your lifetime in the event you are unable to act for yourself. The attorneys at Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A., are able to assist in a wide range of lifetime planning matters. Call us at 320-200-4928, or contact us online, to learn how we can help.
Power Of Attorney Agreements
Minnesota provides for the use of a power of attorney, which allows an individual to appoint an attorney in fact to exercise a wide range of powers over an individual’s financial matters. The attorney in fact may be specific to a particular issue, such as signing a deed to a particular piece of real estate. The attorney in fact’s powers might also be wide-ranging, enabling intervention in a variety of financial matters.
Designating power of attorney is often less expensive, less time-consuming and less invasive of a person’s privacy than conservatorship proceedings. In conjunction with a health care directive, a power of attorney can be a valuable lifetime safety net for an individual.
Health Care Directives
Minnesota allows an individual to use a health care directive to name an agent who can make medical decisions when the individual is unable to do so. This designated agent may make any health care decision on the individual’s behalf, choose health care providers, choose where the individual will live and review the individual’s medical records. The agent’s powers cease upon the individual’s regaining the ability to make decisions, or upon the individual’s death.
Minnesota statutes set requirements for a valid health care directive, including the fact that it must be in writing and properly witnessed or otherwise acknowledged. Such agreements are often less expensive, less time-consuming and less invasive of an individual’s privacy compared with guardianship agreements. Therefore, such directives can be valuable lifetime safety nets for an individual.
A conservatorship is a legal proceeding made through a probate court to appoint someone as conservator to exercise powers and duties over the estate of an incapacitated individual.
Once appointed, a conservator may have a range of powers over the finances and assets of the incapacitated individual. This includes managing that individual’s estate, paying lawful debts, and paying reasonable charges for maintenance and support of the individual.
As part of his or her duties, a conservator must file an inventory with the court listing the incapacitated individual’s assets at the time the conservatorship was established. Likewise, the conservator must provide yearly expense reports.
A power of attorney agreement can often accomplish the same results as a conservatorship, at less cost and without court involvement. However, if the incapacitated individual is not competent, or a family situation is rancorous, a conservatorship may be beneficial because of the court supervision it entails.
A guardianship, like a conservatorship, is a legal proceeding made through a probate court. It assigns someone as a guardian to make decisions in personal matters — such as medical care or housing choices — on behalf of an incapacitated individual. A petition for a guardianship is typically supported by a physician’s statement of support.
As guardianships must be established in court, the process can be time-consuming and costly, especially in contested matters. In addition, the incapacitated individual’s medical records may need to be accessed, which brings up issues concerning invasion of privacy. As such, a health care directive can often accomplish the same results as a guardianship, and do so more efficiently and effectively. However, the oversight of the court that is required in guardianship disputes may, in disputed situations, ultimately benefit the incapacitated individual.