Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

Personal Guardianship Of Elders And Why You Do Not Want Just One Person In Charge

by Hunter Moore

As an elderly person, you are keenly aware of the fact that your health or your mind could begin to fail you at any time. It is at this point, that most people in your age group begin to look at powers of attorney. These are guardians who take responsibility over you.

There is a power of attorney for estate, power of attorney for financial, power of attorney for health and medical, etc. While you can have one person be the "it" person for all powers of attorney, it is not recommended. In fact, most elder law attorneys openly discourage it. To better understand why, here are the powers of attorney you need, and the potential conflicts that can occur when only one person handles all of your personal affairs.

Durable Power of Attorney for Financials

This is the person who handles all of your financial affairs, such as paying bills, paying off debts, and managing any part of your remaining mortgage, when you are no longer able to do so. It has to be someone you know you can trust, someone you know will do right by you and your monthly financial responsibilities. It is the same person who will pay your final (i.e., funeral) expenses, too, unless you pay for those in advance.

Durable Power of Attorney for Medical and Health

This person addresses all of your medical and health needs when you become immobile, incoherent, or unable to speak for yourself. This includes all of your doctor appointments, medications, nursing home care, surgeries, physical therapy, etc., etc.. It is the same person that determines whether or not to take you off of life support, and/or execute a DNR (do not resuscitate) order. Usually, you ask someone very close to you who loves and cares about you most to make these decisions and become your power of attorney for medical and health decisions.

Durable Power of Attorney-Estate

The power of attorney for your estate addresses the final execution of your will and the disbursement of your estate and property. While a probate lawyer handles many of the legal applications of your will and your estate, your power of attorney is your personal stand-in and representative after you have passed away. This power of attorney knows full well what you would want and not want to happen to your estate after you have gone, and is supposed to follow your expectations and desires in your place.

Personal Guardianship

This is the person that stays with you to provide care for you, either in your own home, or in his/her home. It can be the same person for power of attorney for medical and health, for convenience. However, it is often someone different so that the person caring for you does not have to manage major health decisions and your personal care at home. 

Too Much for One Person

As you can see, all of the above is too much responsibility for just one person. Additionally, the person you would choose would have to know where the lines cross and should not cross in all of these affairs. Only a lawyer could know that. 

In some states it is actually illegal to be more than one durable power of attorney for any elderly person. It is viewed as a "conflict of interest," and as such, requires that elderly people in those states appoint separate individuals for each job. It makes sense, given that you would want all those appointed to keep your best interests at heart, and not allow their personal interests to cloud their judgement. If you do not have three or more adult children to appoint to these positions, consider extended family or close friends who are younger than yourself.


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Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

If you've recently moved into a new house and your neighbors are claiming you've infringed on their property line with your new fence, you may not know what to do. Sure, the idea of contacting a lawyer can be intimidating, but if your neighbors are insistent that you're on their property and you can't prove otherwise, an attorney may be the best choice. I created this site to help people just like you understand the laws surrounding property boundaries, real estate claims, and similar issues. I hope that the information here will give you some clarity as to whether or not you need to consult an attorney to protect your interests.