Mike Wallace entered the living rooms of many Sacramento, California, homes for nearly six decades until his retirement in 2006. The journalist will always be remembered for asking the tough questions at the right time. Most recently, however, the "60 Minutes" anchor passed away at the age of 93. News of Wallace's health in his final days is a strong reminder for individuals to establish durable power of attorney in a timely fashion.
When talking about his father, Fox News host Chris Wallace revealed that his dad was battling with dementia during his final years. A man that had been such an enduring figure was beginning to show the effects of aging. The younger Wallace said his father could still recognize his family, but was often "uneven."
It's likely that Mike Wallace would have had difficulty making important financial decisions toward the end of his life. At that point, he probably needed someone he trusted, such as a family member, to make important decisions for him. By establishing power of attorney, the former newsman would have felt secure knowing that his financial affairs would be handled appropriately.
There are a couple ways to establish power of attorney. Individuals considering this option can make the legal agreement effective as soon as it's signed or when certain conditions, such as medical incapacitation, exist. This, of course, requires a veritable medical opinion to ensure that the specified conditions have been reached.
Handing over absolute control of your financial affairs to someone else, even if you love and trust them, can be a scary prospect. As such, you can provide that specified individual or your attorney with specific instructions for implementing the power of attorney plan. Furthermore, you should have another person in line to do the job if the first person cannot perform their duties.
As with most elements of estate planning, establishing powers of attorney can never be done too soon. Though many medical conditions, such as dementia, typically come with old age, a person can become incapacitated at any time. Rather than leaving your family and other loved ones with a lot of unanswered questions, planning ahead can prevent a lot of unnecessary stress and heartbreak.
Source: Forbes, "Mike Wallace Death Underlines Need To Prepare Financially For Risk Of Dementia," Deborah L. Jacobs, April 8, 2012