Were you aware that the Wisconsin power of attorney (also referred to as a POA) is a powerful Wisconsin estate planning tool? With the use of this legal document you are able to grant someone you trust the legal authority to act on your behalf in a variety of circumstances, ranging from paying your mortgage while you are away to handling your investment accounts. 

However, are there times when my power of attorney may not work? What happens when my power of attorney is not even recognized? We know that the consequences can be both personally and financially devastating. We want to explore the potential outcomes and assist you in finding ways to protect you, your loved ones, and your legacy.

  1. You may lose important opportunities to invest in your legacy. Your non-functional power of attorney may delay critical decisions, especially if there is a time-sensitive opportunity to manage your assets, investments, or other financial avenues. Buying a crucial property, selling assets at the right market price, making business decisions, or allocating funds to a philanthropic cause are just a few of the moments that could define your legacy. But without a valid legal document in place, these moments may be lost forever, thus altering the legacy you intended to leave behind.
  2. You may have the court take over. What would happen if you became incapacitated? If your power of attorney is not functional or not yet set up, the court may have to step in to decide who will make decisions on your behalf through a guardianship process. This is both a time-consuming and expensive procedure. More appalling, the court-appointed guardian may not necessarily be someone you would have chosen. Be aware that this person could make choices that you might not agree with, regarding your health, finances, or other personal matters.

Another very important consideration is not having a “durable” power of attorney can cause this to happen. A power of attorney is not able to act unless you have provisions in place making it “durable.” Or, in other words, able to be used when you can no longer make decisions for yourself which is exactly when you need it to.

  1. You may cause emotional and financial strain on loved ones. When a power of attorney does not work, it can place a significant emotional burden on your loved ones. They might have to struggle with tough decisions without your clear guidance, potentially leading to disputes among family members. There may even be fighting over who should be in charge of your person and your finances, which may result in an expensive and timely court battle that we have already shed light on. Sadly, the financial toll can be substantial. From potential legal fees in battling for guardianship to missed financial opportunities, your family may face unnecessary hardships.
  2. You may cause the potential downfall of your business and your legacy. An inadequate or non-working power of attorney is particularly perilous for business owners. In the absence of clear decision-making authority, businesses can suffer from stalled operations, contractual breaches, or missed opportunities. For example, a few of the problems that could arise might be that employees are left in limbo, suppliers and partners might become wary, and the reputation of the business could be at stake.

As you can note here, the durable power of attorney is not just a document; it is a shield that protects your interests, your legacy, and the well-being of your loved ones. Making certain of its validity and functionality is paramount. If you have not reviewed your Wisconsin power of attorney recently, or if you are unsure about its effectiveness, now is the time to consult with an experienced Wisconsin estate planning attorney. By choosing to take proactive measures today, you can prevent a cascade of challenges tomorrow. Do not leave your future, and the future of those you care about, to chance.

We know this article raises more questions than it answers.  As an estate planning and elder law firm, we urge our clients to take advantage of these tools and resources, ensuring comprehensive financial health and security. We want to help you protect your aging relatives. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum today.