Josephine Gittler

Josephine Gittler

The Iowa AARP and the University of Iowa College of Law are in the midst of an education and outreach campaign to explain the state’s new Power of Attorney Act. The act seeks to make it easier for you to designate someone to handle your financial plans when you are unable. U-I professor, Josephine Gittler, is working with AARP on the campaign, and says designating a Power of Attorney provides important protections.

“It’s really prudent for everybody to anticipate that they might be in a situation where they’re going to be unable to manage their financial affairs. And to ahead of time, to designate someone that they really trust to handle their financial affairs,” Gittler says. She says the holidays are a good time for families to discuss the issue with elderly members. Gittler says planning ahead solves

“There are lots of problems that arise in the absence of a valid financial power of attorney,” Gittler says. “And the only alternative may be for someone to petition the court to establish a conservatorship — appoint a person to manage an incapacitated Iowan’s financial affairs. And that can be expensive.”

She says that court process takes the decision out of your hands. “The individual who is no longer able unable to manage his or her financial affairs has no say in who is going to be appointed by the court. So, it really makes sense for everybody to execute a valid financial power of attorney,” Gittler says.

While the focus is often on older Iowans creating a financial power of attorney, Gittler says people of all ages need to consider it. “I have students who are in their 20’s, and I tell them they should have a financial power of attorney. Why? Because you never know,” Gittler explains. Gittler says even for a young person, an unexpected accident can leave them temporarily unable to manager their finances.

“You may sustain injuries that affect you ability to make decisions. There are all sorts of events in life that occur that we don’t want to have happen, that we don’t anticipate, that might happen,” Gittler says. Gittier is the director of the National Health Law and Policy Rource Center at the University of Iowa College of Law.

For more information on a financial power of attorney, go to the center’s blog.