Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Prevent Your Power of Attorney from Being Ignored

A durable power of attorney is one of the most important estate planning documents there is. It allows someone you appoint -- your agent or "attorney-in-fact" -- to act in your place for financial purposes when and if you ever become incapacitated. However, many people experience difficulty in getting banks or other financial institutions to recognize the authority of an agent under a power of attorney.

Banks are often reluctant to accept powers of attorney for fear of being sued if the power of attorney isn't valid. A certain amount of caution on the part of financial institutions is understandable. Still, some institutions go overboard, for example requiring that the attorney-in-fact indemnify them against any loss.

To prevent problems later, contact your bank when you execute your power of attorney to find out what information it needs to accept the document. Many banks or other financial institutions have their own standard power of attorney forms. If this is the case, get the bank's form and sign it in addition to your own power of attorney form. While, it isn't legally necessary, signing the bank's form can save your agent a lot of trouble and time down the road. In addition, you can provide the bank with copies of your power of attorney. It is also a good idea to update your power of attorney frequently so the bank knows it is current.

If a bank is giving you a hard time about accepting a power of attorney, you can try talking your way up the chain of command. You can also have the lawyer who prepared the power of attorney call the bank. If that doesn't work, you may have to have a lawyer deal with the bank.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nursing Home Residents Have Rights

Many people incorrectly believe that once someone enters a nursing home, their freedom is over. In fact, nursing home residents have many rights, and it is important to know those rights and to be able to enforce them.

Nursing home residents' rights are protected under federal law. In broad terms, nursing homes are required to ensure that every nursing home resident be given whatever services are necessary to function at the highest level possible. Following are some of the specific protections that residents have:

• Nursing home residents have the right to privacy in all aspects of their care. This means phone calls and mail should be private, and residents should be able to close doors and windows. In addition, residents may bring belongings from home, and nursing home staff is required to assist the residents in protecting those belongings.

• Residents have the right to go to bed and to get up when they choose, eat a variety of snacks outside meal times, decide what to wear, choose activities, and decide how to spend their time. The nursing home must offer a choice at main meals, because individual tastes and needs vary.

• Residents have the right to leave the nursing home and belong to any church or social group they wish to.

• Residents must be allowed to participate in planning their care. Residents may also manage their own financial affairs.

• Residents may not be moved to a different room, a different nursing home, a hospital, back home or anywhere else without advance notice and an opportunity for appeal. For more information on fighting a nursing home discharge, click here. click here

For a full list of nursing home resident rights, click here

If a disagreement with the nursing home does arise, there are a number of steps you can take to enforce the resident's rights. The first step would be to talk to the nursing home staff directly. This may be all it takes to solve the problem. If that doesn't work, then you may need to talk to a supervisor or administrator. The next step is to contact the ombudsperson assigned to the nursing home. He or she should be able to intervene and get an appropriate result. Contact information for the Ombudsman Program in your state can be found at: Additional steps include reporting the nursing home to the licensing agency and hiring a geriatric care manager to intervene. If the direct approach isn't working, you may need to hire a lawyer to try and resolve the issues. The last resort is to move the resident to a different facility.

For more information on resolving nursing home disputes, click here.