Friday, October 24, 2008

Power Dies Too

Over the course of time that I have been writing this blog, I have discussed many topics that have been directly related to funerals, death, pain and the like. Each post I wrote had something to do with emotions and was somehow meant for the person outside of the funeral industry to better understand what I do and also attempt to assist with knowledge that has always been mysterious. Before I go on with this post, I would like to make the disclaimer that I am not an attorney, nor do I have the right to give legal advice to anyone however I have been forced, if you will, to learn certain things which involve the law and am happy to pass on the information that I have learned.
Many people misunderstand the death care industry and have many misconceptions when it comes to all of the details involved. I can certainly understand this being that death care has always been veiled in secrecy. There is one misconception however that I cannot understand and as it turns out, it happens to be one of the most common that I hear. As a matter of fact it really doesn't have a lot to do with the funeral industry at all but it does definitely come in to play when a death occurs. Now, I don't know where to point the finger of blame in this instance but there is no doubt in my mind that somewhere along the line it is not being fully explained; or understood. Three simple words - "Power of Attorney".
I am not an estate planner, no financial wizard, but over the years I have versed myself in simple estate matters simply out of necessity. Many people, the great majority of people I deal with on a daily basis usually end up discussing what they need to do "next". Don't get me wrong, I know my limits and never discuss legal matters that I don't know to be correct, and most always suggest that people seek legal advice since I AM NOT an attorney. I am always surprised however at how many people who are walking around carrying a power of attorney, a very powerful legal document, really don't know it's purpose or limitations. Perhaps they have never had to use it while the person was living but you'd be shocked at how quickly they try to use it once the person has died. "But, I don't have a plain power of attorney, I have a DURABLE power of attorney!'
Every POA expires when a person is pronounced dead...period. The things that you could have legally done 1 minute before their demise can no longer be done once they are dead, it's that simple. People try to use them to write checks, authorize cremations, avoid probate, transfer name it. Now, I say it's a misconception but in reality is it something that people are trying to "use" hoping that others may not know it is invalid? I can't say for sure but I find it very difficult to sometimes believe that all of these people, some evidently highly intelligent, do not know the fact I have just mentioned but I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If they say they didn't know, well, they just didn't know. Bottom line is, if you're reading this and didn't know, you now do.
So, if for some reason you are carrying around one of these documents, someone, somewhere feels you need it. Pretend you're a Boy or a Girl Scout and "be prepared". Read it, use it wisely and cautiously, but by all means use it if you need to because if you wait too long, all anyone will be able to tell you is "you waited too long".



Chunks of Reality said...

OMG it is SOOOOO wonderful to see that you are back! I've been quite worried about you.


How are you doing?

killemallletgodsortemout said...

The same applies in the UK.

People just do not realise that POA ceases when a person for whom they have POA is dead.