Having a power of attorney can bring several wonderful benefits for seniors, their children, and their caregivers, providing all parties with more peace of mind. Undoubtedly, it always makes sense to set up a power of attorney as early as possible for your parents, as this action helps to balance their lives and protect them from future complications in legal and medical emergencies.
Your parents’ convenience always comes first, so dealing with the paperwork and legal process shouldn’t be a hassle. So what does power of attorney mean for seniors, and do they need it in addition to day-to-day caregivers?
Below are the fundamentals of power of attorney and our step-by-step guide on how to get one for your parents.
Getting Power of Attorney: Definition, Eligibility, POA Types, and a Simple Guideline to Assist Your Seniors in Financial & Medical Matters
Understanding the Basics of Power of Attorney (POA)
The term power of attorney (POA) is a legal authorization that grants one or more appointed persons the power to act or make prompt decisions on a person’s behalf. This responsibility covers all business and legal affairs, such as finances, investments, property management, estate plans, divorce proceedings, and other legal matters.
The person who holds temporary or permanent legal rights to take any action in managing your legal affairs is referred to as an “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.” Their primary role is to represent you when you face complicated and unfamiliar legal or financial situations.
Who Might Need the Power of Attorney?
Since life is full of good and bad surprises, anyone above 18 is advised to consider obtaining a power of attorney to plan for their future.
Another explanation for why most people favor power of attorney is convenience. Individuals can obtain a power of attorney when they cannot manage their affairs due to illnesses, disabilities, and old age or want to avoid the hassle of lengthy legal processes. At best, power of attorney is a smart way to control everything related to legal matters as smoothly as possible from afar, mainly when you are absent for an extended period.
Types of Power of Attorney
Power of attorney can cover specific aspects of a person’s life depending on their scope of personal needs and current situations. Here is the list of five different types of powers of attorney:
- General Power of Attorney: In a situation of a general power of attorney, a person appointed to be the agent is given the most comprehensive authority to make almost all legal decisions for the principal, including buying and selling property, paying bills, managing banking transactions, opening financial accounts, and handling contracts. This type of power of attorney arrangement becomes ineffective when the principal revokes the POA or passes away.
- Medical Power of Attorney: A medical power of attorney allows your parent to assign someone the ability to make medical decisions for them if they are not able to make the decisions for themselves due to illness or incapacitation. For instance, in the event of a sudden injury or terminal illness, a person can assign someone they trust as a healthcare agent to take over their medical responsibilities when they are too ill to sort out themselves effectively. This practice ensures that they receive the most adequate medical care possible throughout their treatment. Medical powers of attorney are always durable, meaning they remain in force beyond the incapacitation of the principal or assignor. They are designed to activate upon incapacitation so that the agent can then make the decisions that the assignor isn’t able to make any longer. Before the activation of the medical power of attorney, the principal must undergo an underwriting process to confirm that they are no longer physically or mentally competent to make decisions about their wellness and well-being.
- Limited (Special) Power of Attorney: The principal can use this type of power of attorney to delegate specific tasks and routines of their legal or business affairs to their attorney-in-fact. Limited power of attorney becomes invalid when said task(s) is completed, followed by the declared statement in the form. Unlike the general power of attorney, the appointed agent is restricted in specific settings and functions. For example, they can cash out checks but do not have full access to the principal’s financial accounts.
- Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney indicates the attorney’s granted legal authority stays in effect even if the account owner is incapacitated. For instance, the attorney holds full responsibility regarding medical care when the principal is unconscious or in a coma due to an accident.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Power of Attorney for Your Parent
What does power of attorney mean for seniors?
For seniors alone, a power of attorney positions them in good hands when they fail to make decisions independently due to declining health and other age-related health conditions impairing their decision-making abilities.
The idea of having someone to rely on entirely when dealing with complicated situations may appeal to many people, especially when aiming to provide the best care for their parents while they are away. But, getting a power of attorney may be a long, tedious process that requires professionals’ assistance.
That said, we prepared some steps to consider when obtaining any form of power of attorney for your parents.
Have a Talk With Your Parents
Discussing the idea with your parents is the crucial first step to figuring out what type of power of attorney that would suit your and their situation. Sometimes, acquiring assistance through power of attorney could be a sensitive topic for most seniors due to the social stigma associated with it.
In most cases, law experts recommend setting up a POA as soon as possible, especially if your parents have a concerning diagnosis like Alzheimer’s. As a result, you may want to subtly approach the subject with the utmost care, love, and patience before digging deeper into their state of financial or medical. For instance, a durable power of attorney may come in handy if your parents have recently been diagnosed with cognitive-declining conditions. That way, they can receive enough medical attention when you are not physically close.
Choose the Right Candidate
As discussed earlier, an attorney-in-fact manages all legal matters, but it doesn’t necessarily mean someone with years of legal experience. Alternatively, anyone over 18 can be a candidate for the attorney role, and your parents can have more than one attorney.
It should be noted that an attorney overseeing and handling estate planning and trading shouldn’t be having financial troubles. Therefore, it is always preferable to cooperate with someone reliable carrying a high sense of responsibility when shortlisting an attorney for your seniors.
Above all, taking the attorney role might not be for everyone, so you should consider it seriously and fully disclose responsibilities in advance, along with acquiring the appointed person’s consent.
Have a Consultation With a Lawyer
The laws of power of attorney can vary from state to state, and the process could be somewhat complicated to comprehend for most seniors.
You may need to consult an experienced law attorney to debunk your concerns and draft legal documents before moving forward. A qualified law attorney with a solid legal background can help answer any questions and recommend the ideal power of attorney based on given scenarios and your parent’s unique needs.
Draft the Documents
Once everything is clear, you can start to set up an arrangement between your parents and the appointed agent to disclose the scope of rights, exclusions, and circumstances that might result in POA termination. Another benefit of the prior lawyer consultation is that they can assist you in drafting legal documents, but you can easily find forms of POA on the Internet. A form of power of attorney should include the following components:
- The date the POA form is created
- Start date and expiration date
- Your parent’s name and the agent’s name
- The scope of legal authority
- A clause(s) detailing your parent’s wishes and needs
- Space for your parent’s and agent’s signatures
Execute the Document
Generally, it is advisable to have more than one witness present during the execution of the arrangement, followed by a notarization. Last but not least, help your parents store the agreement in a secure place to ensure that other family members know where to find it in case of an emergency.
If you have questions about getting power of attorney for a parent or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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