A Guide to Power of Attorney for Elderly Parents
A power of attorney (POA) can be an important element of planning for your elderly parent’s future. It allows another person to take action on your parent’s behalf, ensuring bills get paid and medical decisions can be made in the unfortunate circumstance that your elderly parent is unable to do those things on their own or merely needs help with such tasks.
Arranging a power of attorney for your parent is a good way to open up a discussion with them about their wishes and needs for the future.
With a power of attorney in place, you can be confident that you’re prepared and your parent’s wishes will be respected when they need help. In this guide, we’ll explain the types of power of attorney, when a POA for an elderly parent makes sense, and go through the steps of choosing and setting up a power of attorney so that you feel prepared to complete this process for your loved one.
Power of Attorney: The Basics
At its most basic, a power of attorney is a document that allows someone to act on another person’s behalf. The person allowing someone to manage their affairs is known as the principal, while the person acting on their behalf is the agent. It’s important to note that POAs are generally governed by state law and there may be some differences between states. Generally, these differences are minor, but when arranging a POA, it’s important to talk to an attorney who understands the law in your state.
You also need to understand what a POA cannot do. A POA only allows someone to do the things that are agreed upon within the document. If your parent signs a POA allowing someone to act on their behalf, they can still act on their own behalf so long as they retain the capacity to do so. An agent doesn’t have the exclusive right to act and make decisions for the principal.
Additionally, agents must act as fiduciaries. This means that if you’re the power of attorney for your parent, you must manage their affairs to their benefit, not your own. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has advice about the legal responsibilities that agents agree to when signing a POA. You should remember that your authority as an agent is limited to what the document and the state allow.
Why Do You Need a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney allows someone else to take care of your parent’s affairs. It can be temporary, for example paying bills while someone is on a long vacation, or lasting, such as making medical decisions after a car accident. As parents get older, it makes sense to be prepared for health issues that may mean they need help. A POA allows children, or another agent, to step in when the need arises.
Common Reasons to Seek Power of Attorney for Elderly Parents
● Financial Difficulties: A POA allows you to pay the bills and manage the finances for parents who are having difficulty staying on top of their financial obligations.
● Chronic Illness: Parents with a chronic illness can arrange a POA that allows you to manage their affairs while they focus on their health. A POA can be used for terminal or non-terminal illnesses. For example, a POA can be active when a person is undergoing chemotherapy and revoked when the cancer is in remission.
● Memory Impairment: Children can manage the affairs of parents who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar type of dementia, as long as the paperwork is signed while they still have their faculties.
● Upcoming Surgery: With a medical POA, you can make medical decisions for the principal while they’re under anesthesia or recovering from surgery. A POA can also be used to ensure financial affairs are managed while they’re in recovery.
● Regular Travel: Older adults who travel regularly or spend winters in warmer climates can use a POA to ensure financial obligations in their home state are managed in their absence.
Setting Up a Power of Attorney For an Elderly Parent
It’s important to understand the basics of a power of attorney before you set one up. Read this guide carefully and look for other information from trusted sources such as government departments. Many states have elder law specialists available to give free or low-cost advice to seniors. These lawyers have plenty of experience arranging power of attorney documents and understanding local laws. You can check with your local Area Agency on Aging if you need legal help.
When you’re ready to set up the POA, follow these steps:
● Talk to Your Parents: Discuss what they need in a POA and what their wishes are when it comes to their finances and health care. You must also confirm their consent and make sure they agree with everything discussed.
● Talk to a Lawyer: Everyone who gets a POA has different needs and the laws are different in each state. It’s important to get legal advice so that your parent’s wishes are taken into consideration and the document is legal.
● Create the Necessary Documentation: Write down all the clauses you need that detail how the agent can act on the principal’s behalf. This ensures your parent’s wishes are known and will be respected. Although you can find POA templates on the internet, they are generic forms that may not stand up to legal scrutiny and probably won’t have all the clauses you require.
● Execute the Agreement: Sign and notarize the document. Requirements for notarization and witnesses differ, so make sure you check what’s required in your state.
A POA can give you and your loved one peace of mind that someone can manage their affairs in an emergency. You can visit this Caring.com for the complete article: https://www.caring.com/caregivers/power-of-attorney/