Uncertainty is an inevitable part of life. As our parents age, there may come a time when they need help handling their affairs or making decisions. Setting up a power of attorney is the best way to assure their wishes and intentions are understood and carried out.
Here are some frequently asked questions about how to get durable power of attorney for an elderly parent.
What is Power of Attorney for an Elderly Parent?
Power of attorney is a document that legally authorizes an appointed person (agent) to manage financial, medical, or property affairs if a person (principal) becomes unable to do so.
If you are not setting up a power of attorney for an elderly parent with dementia or other condition that would limit their ability to make decisions, have a family discussion with your parents to determine who should be appointed, and what type of power of attorney is necessary.
It is important to have these conversations before a person becomes incapacitated so you can be sure his or her wishes are carried out.
When setting up a power of attorney, the appointed agent should be trustworthy, and available to act on behalf of the principal. Both parties must appear before a notary to sign and notarize the documents.
What are the Different Types of Power of Attorney?
- General POA- Agent handles financial accounts, banking, real estate transactions, signing checks, etc. The general POA expires if the principal revokes it, becomes incapacitated, or passes away.
- Durable POA- The durable POA continues even if the principal becomes incapacitated. The designated agent can handle all affairs and decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. The durable POA becomes active as soon as the document is signed.
- Special or Limited POA- The Special or Limited POA gives an agent very specific powers, such as selling a home or a piece of real estate.
- Springing POA- This type of POA “springs” into action should a person become incapacitated.
- Medical POA- This POA gives the agent the power to make medical decisions and give consent for medical procedures for the individual (principal).
How to Get Durable Power of Attorney for Elderly Parent.
- Determine which type of POA is appropriate for your situation.
- Talk with your parents and other family members. The implementation of a POA might feel threatening or uncomfortable for your parents. A gentle, sensitive discussion can alleviate many of their fears.
- Consult an attorney (preferably an elder care attorney) for advice on how to proceed and get the POA in place.
- Document the arrangement. A good elder care attorney can help you with this. You can also find free power of attorney forms for elderly parents online.
- Click here for a sample power of attorney for elderly parent link.
- Execute the document. You can sign in front of two witnesses or have the document notarized. Be sure to check the laws in your state for specifics.
If your parent has debilitating dementia and you have not already established a power of attorney, you will have to enlist the help of your local court system.
A judge will review the case, including medical records and your qualifications to serve as guardian.
If everything is in order, the judge will appoint a legal guardian or conservator to take over the affairs of the incapacitated individual.
It is always best for family members to meet and agree upon the person to be designated as the legal guardian prior to petitioning the court to avoid unnecessary emotional and financial hardships.
The take-away for obtaining POA for your elderly parents is to have the discussion now. Find a good time to sit down together and make plans for the “what if” situations that may occur in the future. Knowing the POA is in place and ready to be activated if necessary, is a wise plan for both you and your parents.