As our parents get older, we start thinking about their overall health and their assets. If something were to happen to them, who would help them with their estate? Who would help them keep up with monthly expenses? Who would act as a legally responsible representative in cases where they can’t represent themselves?
There’s no doubt this can be an overwhelming topic to think about, but it’s crucial that you do. You don’t want to be thinking about this once the time comes. You want to be prepared for it as much as possible. One big way to prepare for the responsibilities that may come your way is to establish a power of attorney agreement.
What Is A Power Of Attorney Agreement?
A power of attorney agreement (also known as a POA) is an agreement that states you, or someone else is responsible for making decisions on behalf of your parents. These can include medical and financial decisions.
There are different types of power of attorney agreements, and the law varies in each one. For example, a durable power of attorney means someone can manage all the affairs of another person if said person is unable to. The agreement is effective as soon as the person is unable to manage their affairs, and the agreement does not go away when said person passes away.
A special or limited power of attorney, however, must follow a different law. If someone has a special or limited power of attorney, they can legally speak on behalf of another person for a specific reason, such as a one-time sale of a property. After that task is complete, the appointed person does not have say in said person’s matters.
There’s also a medical power of attorney. If someone is granted this power of attorney, they are responsible for making healthcare decisions on behalf of the appointer. Other powers of attorney agreements include non-durable power of attorney and springing power of attorney.
A power of attorney agreement comes with a lot of responsibility, which means you must be sure your parents are in a situation that requires one. You may have a lot of questions about these situations. How do you know your parents need to appoint a power of attorney? How do you talk to them about this situation, and who actually gets appointed? Here are a few common situations that could warrant you getting a power of attorney agreement for your parents, and advice on how to handle it.
If Your Parents Can’t Physically Care For Themselves
It can be extremely difficult for your parents to make medical decisions if they can’t care for themselves. They could be limited in their physical abilities due to an illness or an injury. If they can’t physically care for themselves, then the law may be in your favor if you want to arrange a power of attorney agreement. If your parents are limited in their abilities, they may not have the capacity to manage their assets.
This conversation could be hard to have with your parents, though. It may be tough for them to give up the ability to have the final say in their medical and financial decisions. Have a talk with them about why it’s in their best interest to have a power of attorney agreement with you or someone else in the family. Explain how this person can help them make decisions on things like emergency care and real estate management. The more they understand how this agreement helps them, the more likely they’ll come to accept it.
If your parents don’t warm up to the idea, but it’s evident that they need a power of attorney, look up the law and see what you can do. Depending on which state you live in, there could be laws in place that can grant someone a power of attorney over their parents, even if their parents are not on board with it. It all depends on the situation, though. If you have questions about these kinds of situations, consult a lawyer. There are more than 1.3 million lawyers practicing in the U.S., and many of them can offer advice on how to handle this properly.
If Your Parents Are Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s
Watching a loved one gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking. Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes brain cells to deteriorate and eventually die. This causes a decline in neurological ability and impacts one’s behavior and social skills. The disease can impact all parts of the brain, including the cerebral cortex. Patients with advanced cases of Alzheimer’s may not be able to perform everyday functions, therefore requiring them to have daily assistance.
If a parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to discuss who is going to be their power of attorney. Power of attorney agreements often requires that the appointee have the proper mental ability to understand what they are agreeing to. However, as their disease progresses, they likely will not be able to make decisions on their own. Talk with loved ones and lawyers about the law and all your options in this situation.
Whoever gets the power of attorney will be able to oversee their senior care and finances. This person could be a member of your family or a trusted family friend who has experience handling assets. It’s up to you and your family to determine who would be the best person for this role. Remember to pick someone honest, trustworthy, and responsible.
If Your Parents Enter A Nursing Home
Your parents could enter a nursing home for a number of reasons. They could need help performing daily tasks, but can’t get the help they need in their own home. If your parents are entering a nursing home, talk to them about appointing a power of attorney.
If you get the power of attorney before your parents enter a nursing home, you can help them determine which nursing home would be best for them. You could choose a residential facility that has residential lifts, an exercise center, and other important features your parents want. You should do diligent research on local nursing homes and the services they provide. You want to ensure your parents will be able to take hot showers and get the care they need in a timely fashion.
You should also observe what kind of services are around the nursing homes you’re looking into. Is there urgent care or a hospital close by? Are there places you could take your parents to on a day trip, like a shopping mall or a few restaurants? Make sure the nursing home is close to other important services.
If your parents are entering a nursing home, make sure their appointed power of attorney visits them once in a while. Your parents may want to talk about their assets, how certain projects are coming along, and how their finances are being managed. This is also a chance for the power of attorney to ask them any questions regarding medical care and finances. Remember, your parents are heavily relying on this person. It’s important that they check in on your parents once in a while and make sure everyone is on the same page with their important matters.
If Your Parents Go In For Major Surgery
Generally, you want to think positive thoughts when a parent goes in for major surgery. However, it’s important to keep the law in mind and plan for all possibilities. If you have a parent who is going in for major surgery, consider seeking power of attorney agreement before they go under the knife.
There are a couple of reasons this situation warrants a power of attorney agreement. If your parents were to pass away during surgery, someone would need to legally be responsible for their assets and affairs. However, if they pass away before they name you the power of attorney, then you could lose control of their assets. If you have the power of attorney, you’ll be able to determine what happens to their assets if they were to pass away during surgery. Remember, your parents must be able to understand the agreement they are signing. To ensure you’re following the proper procedure, talk to them about a power of attorney agreement well in advance of their surgery.
Another reason you should check into the law on power of attorney agreements is if your parent has complications from surgery. Certain complications could make them incapable of caring for themselves. If you have power of attorney, you can have a say in their pain management routine, daily care, and the management of their assets. You always hope for the best when your parent goes in for surgery, but you should also have a plan in place just in case complications arise.
If Your Parents Decide To Travel
Perhaps your parents want to spend their retirement traveling the world. While they’re gone, they may want someone to handle their assets. That’s where a power of attorney agreement comes into play in this situation.
As a power of attorney, in this case, you can oversee your parents’ financial assets while they focus on enjoying their retirement. You could discuss the projects your parents may want you to oversee, such as a bathroom remodel for their home. Or, they may ask you to sell their home and help them downsize. They may also ask you to oversee their finances and manage their monthly expenses while they’re abroad.
Depending on the law behind your certain power of attorney agreement, you may have control of their finances once they come back from their travels. If that’s the case, discuss the next steps with them once they’re back. Your parents may want to adjust the agreement or keep it the same. It all depends on what you all feel comfortable with.
What To Do If Your Family Can’t Agree On Who Should Be The Power Of Attorney
It can be challenging to determine who should handle the power of attorney for your parents. It truly depends on everyone’s situation. If you have siblings, talk with one another to determine who can best handle this responsibility. If no one can, then consider looking for other trusted individuals to take on the responsibility.
The law doesn’t dictate that the appointee in a power of attorney agreement needs to be a family member. If no one in your family can take on the responsibility, look to trusted family friends to see if they can take it on. It’s crucial to pick someone who your family has known a long time and trust. This person will be responsible for your parents’ long-term care. You need to ensure they’re the right person for this responsibility and that they’ll truly look out for your parents’ needs.
Once you decide who will be the power of attorney, take the proper steps to make it legal. Draw up an agreement, get it signed and notarized, file it, and keep copies of the agreement. A physical copy of the agreement will come in handy if you ever need to go to court.
If your parents already named someone as their power of attorney, but you think they’re abusing their power, seek a lawyer as soon as possible. Depending on which state you live in, there could be a law that helps people remove someone as a power of attorney.
The process of picking the right power of attorney for your parents can be overwhelming. You may not be sure which situations warrant the appointment of a power of attorney, and you may not be sure who should take on the responsibility.
It’s normal to be overwhelmed during this process, but it’s important to read up on the law and know your parents’ options. At the end of the day, this process helps protect them and the assets they’ve worked so hard for. Remember that as you’re going through this process. It can be tough, but in the end, it’s well worth it.