While it might be hard to imagine, there will come a day when your loved one will not be able to make decisions on their own. You should certainly consider getting a power of attorney for seniors. It may be difficult to have this conversation with them; however, going through the hassle of having these documents prepared will spare you and your loved one a lot of trouble.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a document that authorizes an individual, the agent, to act on behalf of another person, the principal. This document is governed by state law and has minor deviations depending on the state that you are in. However, you should consult an attorney who is familiar with the legislation in your state.
Besides that, you will need to be aware of the authority it holds. The principal can only perform what is agreed upon in the power of attorney. Even if your loved one grants permission for another to act on their behalf, they can still choose to act individually so long as they are mentally capable of doing so. An agent does not have the sole power to perform and make choices on behalf of the principal, especially if it is not to their benefit.
Reasons for a Power of Attorney
Granting power of attorney for seniors to someone they can trust is critical in ensuring their affairs are managed promptly and professionally when they are unable to make the judgment themselves. It can be short, such as bill payment while on an extended holiday, or long-term, such as determining medical decisions following an accident. Some other reasons to seek power of attorney can include financial struggles, chronic health conditions, memory-related impairment, surgeries, and frequent travels.
Considerations When Choosing an Agent
While it might be easier to have someone related as your agent, the power of attorney can be granted to a non-relative if it is the more convenient choice. Having your relatives be involved may cause the document to be invalid as they would not have sufficient understanding of the legal document and struggle to act fairly when handling the older adult’s affairs. The power of attorney can be given to an accountant, clergy, banks, and lawyers. If you do decide to employ a professional, conduct thorough interviews and ensure that they understand your loved one’s intentions.
Setting Up a Power of Attorney
Remember to talk to your parents and include their wishes on how they want their finances and health care to be handled. Following that, reach out to a specialist when you are ready to set up a power of attorney for your loved one. Many states offer complimentary or affordable consultations for you and your family to fully understand the local laws.
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