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April 12, 2023

What If You Can’t Sign Your Checks?

When my mom was 91, she had a stroke that caused partial aphasia. Aphasia is difficulty understanding, finding or writing words. My mom had trouble finding words and lost the ability to write (her beautiful handwriting was gone). She thought what she wrote was correct, but it was completely illegible. 

I had planned for this; my son had been added as a Co-Trustee (she called him a junior trustee) so he could write and sign checks for her. She never knew she had lost the ability to write. I was grateful that I could preserve her dignity. More importantly, I was grateful that we could pay her bills with no issues and that we did not have to get two doctors to say she was incapacitated.

What if you don’t have a plan in place? 

If you can’t sign your name, you most likely will end up in court even if you have a Living Trust. Why? You will most likely need 2 doctors to declare that you are incapacitated. It is hard to get the doctors to write these letters. My mom was not legally incapacitated, yes words were hard for her, but she still understood most conversations and could make her own decisions. Her primary doctor understood that not being able to write incapacitated her, but I am not sure a neurologist would have agreed. I am glad I did not have to find out.

A stroke or accident can suddenly take away your ability to sign your name. It is important to have a plan in place. If you want to make sure you have a plan that will keep you out of court if you can’t sign your name let me know.

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Geisler Patterson Law


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