After the resurrection, Jesus appeared before his disciples in Galilee. Addressing Peter, three times he instructed him to “feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.” He then said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
Adding to his comment, Jesus knew that Peter ultimately would be crucified for his faith and leadership, instructing, “Follow me.” John 21:1-19
We can draw several lessons from the account in John. One could suppose that Jesus was telling Peter to get on with his mission while he was young and had energy, mobility, and mental acuity. Younger folks tend to take the blessings of vitality for granted. In planning for retirement activities there are jokes about the “go-go, slow-go, and no-go” years. It’s sad when people wait too long and fail to actualize resolutions and dreams, leading to regret.
In foretelling the manner of Peter’s martyrdom, Jesus instructs that we never know the time or the hour we will leave this earthly realm. In the holy books of all religions we are warned against presumption. If you have something important to accomplish, a mission or dream yet to be actualized, take a tip from Nike—“Just do it!”
One key aspect of being prepared for “what if?” is to have properly executed Powers of Attorney for assets and health care available to those who might have to handle business and financial affairs and other matters on your behalf.
On July 1, 2017, Georgia implemented a new law important to individuals, families, and others who may need to step in.
Under previous law, banks, financial institutions, even health care providers, could refuse a Power of Attorney, saying it was “too old.” A parent signs a Power of Attorney naming an adult child as agent. Often documents get filed away and are not looked at for years. Later, when mom or dad has dementia, a stroke, heart attack, severe accident, or other setback, institutions may not honor it. Now loved ones have to go to court to file for Guardianship or Conservatorship, an expensive and irksome process during a time of stress, the very thing the documents were designed to prevent.
The new Georgia law specifies that the Power cannot be rejected just because time has passed. If an institution still refuses to accept the document after steps are taken as outlined in the law to establish validity, a court can order acceptance and direct the institution to pay for court filing costs and damages.
However, the new law only applies to Powers of Attorney signed after July 1, 2017. That’s important. You should contact your attorney and have new Powers of Attorney executed using the new Georgia form. Periodically you should review all documents related to living and testamentary estate planning, legacy, and your loved one’s wellbeing. That includes wills, trusts, Powers of Attorney, Advanced Directive, insurance policies, beneficiary designations, titling of assets, buy-sell agreements for business interests, etc. Every year, business owners should review and update succession plans, better framed as a “Growth and Continuity Plan” for the enterprise.
Remember, mom and dad, once your son or daughter is age 18, they are adults under Georgia law. Without a Power of Attorney, if they are sick or injured, privacy laws preclude medical personnel from sharing details with you. Don’t let them take off for college or drive a car without you being designated in a Power of Attorney to act for them. That goes for an Advanced Directive. They also should have a simple will.
“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” So said Leroy “Satchel” Paige. But if you don’t plan for the vagaries of life, it can matter, causing stress and family disruption at a time of challenge, pain, and grief. Tragedy and loss is not a respecter of age. Plan carefully!
Lewis Walker, CFP®, is a financial life planning strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-2603. Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. He is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA®).