“We want to make sure our children are both involved in the decision-making process. Can we give them co-responsibilities?”
We strongly encourage our clients to name one individual decision-maker for their Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, etc. Even when our clients insist that two people get along great, and will be working with their parents’ best interests in mind, there are several reasons why joint decision-making can be problematic and is never recommended.
Take, for instance, the responsibilities of an agent in your Advance Medical Directive. This document is only effective when you are deemed incapacitated by two doctors – essentially when your health is in critical condition and decisions need to be made quickly. In these precious seconds, even the slightest disagreement amongst co-agents can lead to inaction, and even lead to unnecessary delays in life-or-death situations. Additionally, both need to sign off on every decision that needs to be made.
Choosing a single person to serve as your primary decision-maker is always the best option, and a secondary person can take over if the first one is unable to serve.
An Important Conversation With Your Parents
Lately, we have had many new clients that were brought to our office by their children. We love our parents dearly, so thinking about them losing their faculties can be difficult. So much so, that planning for it often gets pushed aside until it is too late. Once an adult loses mental capacity, they immediately lose the ability to make important medical and financial decisions for themselves. They are also no longer capable of executing Powers of Attorney and any other Estate Planning documents.
We have seen clients come from both sides of this steep cliff: those who were able to secure airtight Estate Plans for their parents right before they lost mental capacity, and those who have just missed this window of opportunity. The latter must endure the tedious, painstaking task of seeking and obtaining Guardianship of their parents’ person and property. The Guardianship process is expensive, and it takes months before the client can act on their parents’ behalf. Attorney Clark was contacted and later interviewed for a U.S. News article that discussed several of the issues that can present once mental capacity has diminished. The article discusses our former client, Bill, and his very helpful tips and checklists covering several considerations when dealing with an aging parent: access to their electronic devices, digital assets, and social media accounts, ways to access bank accounts, important papers, and many other key considerations.
Please call us at 301-696-0567 or self-schedule at lenaclarklegal.com if you would like help protecting your assets and loved ones in the event of death or disability.
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