The Divorce Priority that Should be Among Your First: Updating Your Power of Attorney

The situation played out in the most public of ways. Former NBA star Lamar Odom was found unconscious after a weekend of partying. He was rushed to the hospital, remaining in a coma for days, unable to make any of his own medical or financial decisions. The doctors reached out to his power of attorney – his estranged wife, Khloe Kardashian. While the two had signed their divorce paperwork, a judge has not yet signed the divorce decree; the couple was still legally married.

In this case, Mr. Odom's medical condition improved, and he has since given interviews praising Ms. Kardashian for rushing to his side, managing his affairs, and working with his doctors while he was unable to do so.

Of course, not all spouses in the middle of their divorces would be so responsible. In fact, a power of attorney in the hands of a disgruntled spouse could spell disaster. Your bank account could be emptied. New credit accounts could be opened. Your vehicle could be sold. You could be released from the care of a doctor. Once you decide that divorce is the best option for you, you should name a trusted person as your power of attorney before the divorce is finalized.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) allows someone you trust to make financial and/or medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them. In some cases, a power of attorney terminates when you become incapacitated or disabled, which is when you need it most. A durable power of attorney extends continues during any period of incapacitation. Your attorney will help explain the differences to you, and determine which type of POA is best for you.

When determining who should serve as your power of attorney, you should think about and discuss advanced health care directives. What, if any, life-sustaining measures do you wish to receive? Your POA will have as much or as little power as you designate, including the ability to: consent or refuse consent to medical treatment, determine who should provide your health care, review your medical records, and more.

Determining who should serve as your power of attorney, and what powers to grant that person, can be difficult. Our attorneys are available to discuss your specific situation and help you make the decision that’s best for you.


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