The Elder Law Forum

The Elder Law Forum
Never thought it would happen to us

Money is needed to keep a family intact. But often, a lot of money tears a family apart – particularly when those with the money approach the end of their lives.

"I never thought it would happen to us," said the USD Senior Legal Helpline caller, a 73-year-old woman whose husband died two years ago. "We used to be a loving family. Now my daughters won't talk to me. And they are attacking each other."

"I have a lot of land and other assets," she said. "And I believe that's the problem."

She called to ask how she could revoke a power of attorney designating one of her daughters as agent. And, once revoked, she asked whether I thought she really needed a power of attorney. And, if the answer is yes, could two of her children serve as co-agents?

The caller is in good health, active in civic affairs, and self-sufficient. She has a financial advisor. She has several close friends. She expects her 70s to be busy and rewarding. But the unexpected enmity within her family is a source of unhappiness.

I advised her to consult with the attorney who drafted her power of attorney, execute a revocation, and distribute it to all interested parties, most importantly, members of her family and relevant financial institutions. Secondly, she should execute a conditional or "springing" power of attorney, one that would become effective only upon her becoming verifiably incapacitated.

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