To avoid this, each spouse should execute a Durable Power of Attorney naming the other as agent, with authority to administer all assets the other spouse owns. They should both name a successor agent, in case the other spouse might not be able to serve.
For even greater protection, people often create Revocable Living Trusts and re-title assets into the name of the Trust. The creator of the Trust will usually serve as Trustee, but if he or she becomes incapacitated, a Successor Trustee can step in and continue the management of the Trust assets.
Everyone should have a Health Care Power of Attorney, naming a health care Agent. Due to privacy concerns, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) makes it difficult to obtain medical information about someone without being authorized under HIPAA. A wife does not have the legal right to access her husband’s medical records unless he has signed the proper legal document. With no Health Care Power of Attorney, a conflict among family members can force a Probate Court hearing to determine who should be legal Guardian.