POLST, or Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, is an approach to end-of-life care that encourages discussions between patients and their health care providers. The goal of POLST is to enable patients to choose the treatment they want or do not want, and to ensure that those preferences are honored. (more…)
A Missouri Court recently ruled in In the Estate of Betty Jean Collins v. Tina Shoemaker (Mo. App. W.D. #75448, August 6, 2013) that a person who had died was not “incapacitated” for purposes of a Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA). The court decided that the right of sepulcher expressly granted by Collins in her HCPOA to her great-niece did not ever become effective so that, on the death of Collins, her great-niece as her health care attorney in fact had no power to carry out Collins’ wishes to have her body cremated.
The right of sepulcher, that is the right to choose and control the burial, cremation or other disposition of a dead body, is governed by statute in Missouri (R.S. Mo. § 194.119), as it is in many states. This statute sets out the order in which various persons have this right, and grants the right of sepulcher first to “[a]n attorney in fact designated in a durable power of attorney wherein the deceased specifically granted the right of sepulcher over his or her body to such attorney in fact.” However, here, since the court ruled that the HCPOA never became effective, the court determined that the “next of kin”, the next in line with the right of sepulcher under the statute, had this power instead of the great-niece. Collins had no surviving spouse, so that her children, appellants in this case, who wanted her buried and not cremated, had the right of sepulcher. (more…)
With research and drafting assistance from Washington University School of Law student, Kelsey DeLong.
In Estate of Lambur, the Missouri Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether an attorney-in-fact is permitted to gift the principal’s property to herself when the gift is not expressly authorized in the power of attorney.
In 2005, Verna Irene Lambur (“Irene”) executed a durable power of attorney naming her nephew’s wife, Anna Stidham (“Anna”), and Jackie Johnson (“Jackie”) as her attorneys-in-fact. The power of attorney granted Irene’s attorneys-in-fact the following power:
“To establish, change or revoke survivorship rights in property or accounts, beneficiary designations for life insurance, IRA and other contracts and plans, and registrations in beneficiary form; to establish ownership of property or accounts in my name with others in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship and to exercise any right I have in joint property; to exercise or decline to exercise any power given to me to appoint property [sic]; to disclaim or renounce transfers to me of property; to make inter vivos gifts of my property to my lineal descendants, including my attorneys in fact, in amounts that are equal by line or class and in an amount for any person that does not exceed in any year the annual gift tax exclusion[.]”
Shortly after the execution of the power of attorney, Anna and Jackie transferred assets that Irene owned, individually, into two new accounts, each titled in the names of Irene, Jackie, and Anna, with rights of survivorship. Upon Irene’s death in May, 2005, the combined value the two accounts was $129,134.46. (more…)