Making an estate plan is the type of activity that some people in Colorado might prefer to put off. However, the problem with this is that it can be put off until it is too late. While many people may think of an estate plan as deciding who will get a person's assets, it is also important to plan in case a person becomes incapacitated.
One man found this out when he phoned a lawyer about paying for his father's care in a nursing home because he had developed dementia. The man's father had him listed as the beneficiary on his bank account, but because the father was still alive, the man could not access the funds. When he phoned an attorney, he was surprised to learn that his father would have to sign a power of attorney so that the man could access the account.
The attorney explained that if there was no existing power of attorney, then it would be necessary to appoint the son as a guardian in order to access the account. This is an expensive and time-consuming process. Fortunately, the son went back to the father's estate plan and was able to locate a power of attorney.
This story illustrates the importance not only of creating an estate plan that takes care of finances in case a person is incapacitated but also the importance of discussing those plans with loved ones. Furthermore, in the case of a medical power of attorney, which appoints someone to make medical decisions, people may want to discuss their health care preferences with family members. Another reason to have this discussion with family members is that it allows people the opportunity to turn down any roles they are not comfortable with. A lawyer may help facilitate these discussions and prepare the proper paperwork.