When Life Changes

November 15th 2017, by Deborah K. Lorah

When asked, I agreed to become the legal power of attorney, health care power of attorney and executrix for two beloved family members. Naively, I thought it would be years and years before I would be called upon.

Wrong.

On July 3rd of this year, these two family members were in a serious car accident, leaving one in the trauma unit and the other, challenged with dementia, scared and frightened because the person she depended on for all decisions in daily life was not by her side.

Life, for them, changed when the accident happened.

Life, for me, changed when the call came from the hospital chaplain.

Fortunately, when my family members had their legal documents drafted four years ago, they wisely recognized that minimal practical experience for one and dementia for the other made them inappropriate choices to be Powers of Attorney (POA) for each other. The fact that I was named primary POA meant that I could hit the ground running, so to speak, when I got that call from the hospital.

Had my family members not updated their documents, I would have had to deal with redoing legal documents for someone lying in a trauma unit unable to breathe without severe pain and someone with dementia and incapable of making legal decisions. Knowing how busy things were for me those first weeks after the accident, I can’t imagine how complicated life would have been had I needed to deal with redoing legal documents on top of dealing with health care decisions, police reports and insurance claims.

The lesson to be learned: not only is it important to make sure your own legal documents are current, it is a good idea to periodically think about the family situations of anyone for whom you might one day serve in a legal capacity.