When you develop an Estate Plan with Green Bay Attorney Devin Shanley, you form an emergency response team to step in if you are incapacitated or pass away. You name people to particular roles, such as a Power of Attorney for Health Care (to make medical decisions on your behalf) and a Financial Power of Attorney (to manage your finances).
These Power of Attorney documents may be the most important parts of your estate plan. It’s the Power of Attorney documents that often prevent Guardianship proceedings and ease the ability of your loved ones to take control when needed.
Activation of Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is generally activated in two ways. The first type of activation takes place immediately upon signing the Power of Attorney document. The second type is referred to as “springing” Power of Attorney, meaning the power springs into being when a triggering event occurs.
It’s like an old Road Runner cartoon. You know the ones. Road Runner runs through the desert and nothing happens. Wylie Coyote follows behind on that same stretch of road, and suddenly, snap! The road pops up and catapults him into the air. The last image you see is a coyote-shaped hole in the canyon wall.
The cartoon is useful in understanding the springing of Power of Attorney documents. As life goes by, nothing happens. All of a sudden, a triggering event occurs, such as being declared incapacitated, and spring! Power of Attorney pops up.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Here’s an example. If you name your wife as your Healthcare Power of Attorney, you don’t want her to tell your dentist, “Yank that tooth. That tooth has always bothered me.” As much as you trust your wife, you don’t want to give her that much power.
She doesn’t have that power now; her Power of Attorney duties spring into effect if you become incapacitated. Typically, a Healthcare Power of Attorney is sprung when two doctors say a person is incapacitated.
Financial Power of Attorney
The springing event for Financial Power of Attorney is a little different. If it’s not spelled out in Financial Power of Attorney documents, incapacity is determined by one doctor or one psychologist or one licensed attorney. See Wis. Stat. 244.09 (2018).
Many expect to see the doctor here but are surprised by seeing a lawyer as an accepted source. Remember, the question for triggering this document is exclusively whether someone can manager his or her money. Lawyers make this determination all the time, especially when attempting to determine whether someone is competent enough to execute a Will.
Parts of an Estate Plan operate differently
Here’s the confusing part: If Grandpa is incompetent to make medical decisions, it only pertains to his health care, not money management, drawing up a Will, and making other financial decisions. Activation of the Healthcare Power of Attorney doesn’t automatically spring the Financial Power of Attorney. The determination that a doctor makes that a person isn’t able to make medical decisions is not the same as the same doctor determining that a person cannot manager his or her money. These are two different conclusions. The questions are dealt with by two different statutes under Wisconsin law. As a result, these two parts of your estate plan will probably operate differently.
Understanding your plan
Families are sometime confused by all of this. That’s why it’s important to have an attorney you can trust to not just help you create your estate plan, like drafting Power of Attorney documents, but also explain everything in language you can understand. Attorney Devin Shanley can do just that.
Plans rely upon people. Understanding these little parts of your own plan can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your plan. Contact Shanley Law LLC today for a free Estate Planning consultation.
About Us: Attorney Devin Shanley is the approachable expert clients can trust. A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Devin has been developing legal solutions in his beloved hometown since 2012. Married to Mo and dad to two rambunctious kids, he has a soft spot for the Green Bay Packers, grilling out, and playing with his kids. His areas of practice are Estate Planning, Family Law, Business Law, and Non-Profit Organization Law. Schedule your free consultation by calling 920-471-4337.