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Elder Law Attorney Can Help Deal with Sibling Rivalry

“The problem is that my parents want to designate me as their power of attorney, for both health care and financial decisions, since I live in their community. Unfortunately, my siblings feel slighted.”

The reader who posed this scenario is not alone in facing siblings who live far away but feel like they are not being included in their parent’s plans. For this family, one sibling lives 500 miles away and another lives 800 miles in the opposite direction. The one daughter who lives in the same community is the logical choice for power of attorney. What can be done?

According to the Faribault Daily News article “Attorney can smooth path for families making legal plans,” the problem likely has its roots in sibling rivalry, since it’s an emotional response to a sensible decision.

The parent’s foresight in updating their estate plan and related legal documents is to be congratulated. The one adult child who lives in their community is the best choice for power of attorney for medical and financial decisions, so they can quickly handle an emergency situation.

The parents have assigned the other two adult children as secondary POAs and everyone has already been informed that they will all receive equal shares in the estate. The out-of-town siblings should be happy at how fairly and expeditiously their parents are taking care of in these matters.

Adults need someone to be named to handle health care and financial decisions, if they become incapacitated and need someone else to make decisions. Having a POA puts others in place to take over any tasks. Having a secondary POA designates someone to step in, if the primary is unable to act.

When someone choses a POA because they don’t want to hurt any feelings, the result is often disastrous.

Some states also allow what is known as a “co-agent.” so that decisions are made together. But in an emergency, if the other person is not immediately present and time is an issue, this can lead to critical situations being unresolved.

One way to soften this kind of situation is to have the entire family meet with the elder law attorney in a family meeting. With a professional who is not emotionally tied to the family dynamics, decisions can be explained, and cooler heads may prevail.

If you’ve been putting off making decisions about your estate plan because of worries about hurt feelings, make an appointment to meet with an elder law attorney and discuss a family meeting. There are few scenarios that experienced elder law attorneys haven’t seen. They will know how to handle it best, so that your plan is completed, your family is protected and hurt feelings are soothed.

Reference: Faribault Daily News (August 28, 2018) “Attorney can smooth path for families making legal plans”

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