Cristyn: I am married. Why do I need a power of attorney? Well, great question. One of the reasons is if one spouse becomes incapacitated and owned assets and only his or her name, and the spouse who’s still healthy now needs access to those assets for whatever reason, to take care of the incapacitated spouse’s medical bills, to take care of their children, to pay their mortgage, whatever the case may be. If we don’t have a power of attorney in place, this spouse is going to have to go to a court conservatorship hearing to get access to those accounts. It’s very expensive and time-consuming.
Another reason is, couples who are married do tend to travel together, and sometimes, unfortunately, something happens to both of them at the same time. Now, we have two people both incapacitated, unable to make decisions. Now, who’s supposed to be the medical decision maker, and who’s supposed to be the financial decision maker? Another instance is when one spouse passes away. Now we have lost that default decision maker, so what that means is we now have to go to court when the surviving spouse eventually becomes incapacitated, or if it happens at the same time.
When we put powers of attorney in place, we’re doing a best practice for married couples. We’re almost always putting the other spouse as the primary power of attorney, but we’re putting backups in place to negate the earlier problems I just discussed. It’s not worth the risk, even if you’re married you need a medical and financial power of attorney to avoid the risk of costly and time-consuming court processes.