Cristyn: One of our failures to have a financial power of attorney horror stories this time is with a husband and wife. Husband and wife were on vacation, and the wife was tragically the victim of a very unusual windstorm incident where the umbrella in a restaurant umbrella came loose, flew through the air onto the street, hit her in the head, and caused half of her brain to be damaged. Luckily, her husband was a doctor and was able to keep her alive.

Of course, during this timeframe, while she was healing, she didn’t have the capacity to do her own financial decision-making, and because assets were not owned jointly and she didn’t have a financial power of attorney to access her assets to make sure bills were getting paid and decisions were made properly, her husband had to go to court and get a conservatorship put in place.

When the couple came to me was at the end, when it was time to close the conservatorship because it had been four years since the incident, the wife’s brain had been rehabilitated and she was ready and rearing to go to start making her own decisions. The husband was even more so ready for her because he was tired of doing the accounting requirements that the court has in place for anybody who’s appointed as a conservator, so both husband and wife were saying, “Yes, let’s get the wife back into making her own decisions.”

What it entailed to get her to be able to make her own decisions was a court hearing, doctors calling in, verifying that she can make her own decisions, the wife saying, “Yes, I can make my own decisions,” and the husband who had been court-appointed saying, “Yes, it’s okay for my wife, who is now well and better to make her own decision,” not to mention all the legal work that went in the background even to get there. We won’t even cover the cost, but you can have an idea that with that much legal work, it was expensive for the clients.

Put simply, a financial power of attorney would’ve avoided all of that, but there was, at least, a happy ending in this case because the wife wrote her very first check at the end and was really excited that she finally was able to make her own financial decisions. Again, this entire nightmare process that involved the court when the husband should have been solely focused on rehabilitating his wife and her brain injury, got drugged through the mud and had, of course, again, legal fees associated with it this whole time when a financial power of attorney would’ve prevented all of that from happening.