Certainly, when our loved ones get older, we want the best for them. When it comes to assisting elders with some of their everyday tasks, other family members with the legal authority to make choices can step in. Health care and long-term care living arrangements are frequently accompanied by their own set of stresses, so it’s critical that family members take precautions to guarantee high-quality care and relieve caregivers’ strain.
Establishing a power of attorney to manage health care, legal and financial matters is one of the most important actions a family can take in setting the groundwork for long-term care.
Families frequently wait too long to appoint a power of attorney. They may lose out on the aggregate input of all loved ones as a result, and they may resort to hasty decision-making when under stress.
You and your family may pick the power of attorney who is best for you and your loved one if you plan ahead of time. In some situations, many people may be able to share these responsibilities. Communication and teamwork are essential no matter what family consensus you reach.
Consider this information as a starting point.
Many people forego making legal decision about creating a power of attorney until they have a serious illness or are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia. Senior care experts advise against waiting and encourage families to make the decision early and continue the discussion often.
First, people who are judged incompetent or unable to read or write documents cannot lawfully sign a power of attorney. This can be difficult for you to navigate as you try to make the difficult decisions that must be made when a loved one becomes unwell. If the decision is made too late, you won’t have much say in your loved one’s medical treatment or financial issues unless you obtain authorization to manage their affairs. Furthermore, health issues are tough to handle for everyone concerned. It’s far better to deal with these major decisions without the added stress and worry for your loved one’s urgent healthcare needs clouding your judgment.
When your loved one is healthy, lucid and able to openly express their preferences and plans in the case of an emergency, this is the ideal time to get a power of attorney. Adult children of elderly parents are sometimes hesitant to discuss power of attorney, but it is critical to do so as soon as possible.
When individuals talk about power of attorney, they’re usually referring to one of the three forms listed below.
- Nondurable power of attorney. Often utilized in specific, short-term situations, such as managing your loved one’s finances when they are not present. A nondurable power of attorney expires after the time period stated or if the principal becomes incompetent, handicapped or incapable of making decisions.
- Durable power of attorney. When most people hear the term, they immediately think of a durable power of attorney. This form of power of attorney goes into effect as soon as it is signed and remains in force until the agent’s powers are revoked or the principal dies.
- Springing power of attorney. Until the loved one becomes incompetent, the agent does not have the authority to make choices for them. However, because some jurisdictions do not recognize them, you should get acquainted with your state’s estate laws or seek the counsel of a reputable elder law specialist.
The process of obtaining power of attorney might be intimidating, but there are a few easy steps you can follow.
Consider contacting an elder law or estate planning attorney for assistance. Although you do not need a lawyer to fill out power of attorney paperwork, an experienced attorney can assist you with the procedure and answer any concerns you may have.
Make copies and preserve accurate records. Provide your loved one and other family members copies of the power of attorney documents. Keep the originals in a secure place. Keeping exact copies of any additional papers, such as living wills, insurance paperwork, home and vehicle titles and bank records, is also a good idea.
Organize yourself. Find out whether your loved one has any legal or estate planning in place. Gather all medical documents as well as bank and investment account information.
Validate the forms with a notary. When you and your loved one meet to finalize the power of attorney forms, a notary should be represented. Your state may demand extra witnesses for paperwork depending on where you reside.
Obtaining a power of attorney for your elderly loved one is a crucial first step in ensuring that they receive high-quality senior care.