Making important decisions for aging parents can be challenging, but power of attorney (POA) can provide peace of mind and clarity in times of need. POA enables individuals to make crucial decisions on behalf of their parents, such as managing their finances or making medical decisions when they cannot do so themselves due to age or illness.
While it may be challenging to approach this topic with your parents, having these discussions early on can help ensure that you follow their wishes if their health changes over time. Starting the conversation with empathy and understanding can make all the difference.
In this article, we'll explore how to obtain power of attorney for elderly parents and provide helpful tips on approaching these discussions with warmth and care. After all, our ultimate goal is to ensure that your aging parents receive the best possible care and support.
What's a POA?
According to the American Bar Association, POAs are legal documents, which vary between states, that provide a person, or several individuals, with the power to act on behalf of someone else. The individual with a POA is an agent, whereas the principal refers to the person having their affairs managed by other individuals. Agents can only perform actions outlined within the POA document. Moreover, if someone agrees to a POA, they can still make their own decisions, providing they can still do so coherently. This means the agent cannot make exclusive decisions on behalf of the principal.
Below is more information regarding the different POA types:
- General: For this POA, the agent can manage the principal's affairs for a specific period, and the principal may revoke this at any point. These automatically finish if the principal becomes incapacitated and are common when an individual can still see to their affairs but prefers that someone else does this for them.
- Durable: These POAs continue after the principal becomes incapacitated and are more common when someone cannot manage their affairs. They can conclude in many ways, including once the principal dies or if the agent completes the conditions within the POA document.
- Springing: The terms in this POA do not take effect unless the principal becomes incapacitated. For this POA, the principal remains in control of their affairs until they lose capacity.
- Medical: These POAs allow agents to make the principal's medical decisions. They last until the principal is competent and might also expire after a certain period mentioned in the document.
- Limited: These limit the agent's ability to decide on specific tasks outlined in the POA document, such as paying bills or selling a house. Limited POAs are usually temporary and end when the principal loses capacity.
Why and When to Consider a POA For Your Aging Parents
Here are the common reasons why individuals may consider getting a POA:
- Finance issues: POAs enable individuals to continue paying their parents' bills and manage their finances when their parents struggle to fulfill these obligations.
- Serious illness: Having a POA for an elderly parent can be helpful as it allows them to focus on getting better and reduces the stresses associated with managing their affairs.
- Memory issues: Individuals commonly obtain a POA to manage their parents' affairs if they develop dementia. It is helpful to note that it is necessary to obtain the POA before the parent loses their capacity.
- Surgery: When an elderly parent is undergoing surgery, it might be a good idea to obtain a POA so individuals can make decisions on their parents' behalf and manage their affairs until they have fully recovered.
- Frequent travel: Some elderly parents like to travel frequently, so POAs can be helpful here in ensuring their affairs remain in order while they are away.
How Do I Choose a POA For My Parents?
When considering a POA for your aging parents, remember several things. The most crucial factor is trust - you must choose someone you can rely on to make decisions in your parent's best interests and follow their wishes.
While family members are often chosen for this role, it's essential to consider whether they are the best fit. This is also an option if you think an objective outsider, such as a lawyer, accountant, or financial institution, may be better suited to the task. However, it may come with additional costs.
Before agreeing to be a POA for your parents, it's essential to have a thorough discussion with them to understand their needs and preferences. Different types of POAs have different levels of responsibility, and it's essential to clarify what your parents expect from you. For example, if your parents need help with medical decisions, this will require more involvement than if they only need assistance with financial decisions.
Finally, it's essential to understand the financial implications of becoming a POA. You must keep your finances separate from your parents and be prepared to justify your decisions to avoid legal issues.
Choosing a POA for your aging parents is a significant decision, and it's essential to approach it with care and sensitivity. You can ensure your parents receive the best possible care and support by discussing openly and honestly and seeking objective advice.
Contact Us, Your Local Personal Family Lawyer® To Learn More About Obtaining A Power Of Attorney For Your Elderly Parents
If you have elderly parents, it's understandable that discussing power of attorney (POA) may be a sensitive topic. However, starting these discussions as early as possible can bring peace of mind and clarity in the future.
When approaching these conversations, it's essential to consider your parents' health and well-being. Let them know you're there to support them and will only use the POA powers if necessary. It's a promise that can help reassure your parents that you have their best interests at heart.
Additionally, it may be helpful to seek the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney. They can provide objective advice and alleviate your parents' concerns. We understand this process is difficult, but we're here to help. Please feel free to contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you and your family.
This article is a service of Jacklyn A. Truppa of Dynasty Law, LLC. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you've ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer firms, a source believed in providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you seek legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained independently, separate from this educational material.