As we grow up, our parents grow old with us. Once you realize how quickly they age and fade away from the individual you have known and loved since birth, it becomes heartbreaking.
Being a caregiver to your loved ones is not limited only to financially providing for them when needed. The more they age, the less capable they become of managing important matters.
Are you worried about what is going to happen if your elderly parents become incapable of taking care of their own legal and health affairs?
To avoid the long and expensive route to becoming an official carer and representative for your elderly loved ones after they have already debilitated, take care of this matter while they are still in control.
A power of attorney can make you an agent for your parents, and give you the right to attend to their financial, medical, and other important legal affairs while they live.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal contract that binds a granter to a representative. By getting a power of attorney, the granter empowers the attorney-in-fact and gives them the right to make decisions on their behalf.
The terms of this contract dictate how much power the agent has, and the person issuing this POA will determine it.
When Will Your elderly Loved One Need It?
Once your parents cross the age of sixty (sometimes even earlier than that!), you start noticing that they are not as healthy as they used to be. As they age, they become more incompetent and will tend to depend more on you.
If you notice them becoming too forgetful or if their health condition is slowly deteriorating, or they have a life-altering long-term health condition, talk to them about POA.
A power of attorney is their decision, so approach the subject gently as it might make them upset or distressed. Help them to understand that you are asking them to do this only because you care for them, and want to do a better job of it.
If you are the granter, choose the person you want as your POA wisely. Consider every factor and select someone responsible, loving, and willing to take care of you.
Types of Power of Attorney
Most power of attorneys lasts for a certain period, and as long as the granter is not incapacitated.
But, if you are concerned about the decisions you will need to take after they lose partial or full physical or mental competence, you will need a durable power of attorney.
What is a durable power of attorney? A durable power of attorney lasts for as long as the granter lives, or until they wish to revoke it.
However, the granter can only invalidate the durable PoA if they can understand what is happening and, are mentally and physically sound enough to do so. The following are a few types of durable power of attorney you can consider.
Medical Power of Attorney
If you are worried about what will happen when your elderly family members lose the capability to make sound decisions about their health care, you need to get a durable medical power of attorney for them.
If they have a chronic health condition that can put them on life support at some point or a mental disorder that can take away their decision-making capacity, a medical PoA will give you the authority to make their health care decisions for them.
You cannot get a medical power of attorney after your loved one becomes incapable. That is why it is important to talk to them while they are still mentally and physically healthy. Your loved ones will decide on what medical decisions you can make for them.
For example, whether you have the power to move them to an assisted living facility or for how long you can keep them on life support, terms for such specific life-altering decisions must be agreed on beforehand.
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney gives the attorney-in-fact the power to manage the principal’s finances. Whether they have money in the bank or properties, the assignee will manage them on behalf of the granter.
If your aging parents are about to lose the capacity to manage financial matters or simply want you to handle their finances, they can give you the financial power of attorney. This gives you the legal right to control and make financial decisions for them.
A financial power of attorney can be both durable and general, but it is better to get a durable PoA for your aging parents as it will allow you to manage their finances when they become debilitated. With this PoA, you can manage their properties, pay off debts and bills, etc. when they are unable to do so.
Springing Power of Attorney
To understand what a springing power of attorney is we must first understand what a limited PoA is. A limited power of attorney gives the agent limited power.
For example, if you are giving a financial PoA to someone, but its terms withhold their power to sell properties or tap into their planned-retirement accounts, that would become a limited PoA.
A springing power of attorney is a PoA that “springs” into action when something happens. Many springing powers of attorneys are durable and only come into play when the granter becomes gravely ill or loses their capacity to make decisions.
A springing power of attorney can be medical, financial, etc. and the principal will set the terms and circumstances of this PoA.
If you are worried about your aging parents, speak to them about giving you a power of attorney so that you can become a better caregiver when they become incapable to do so and need your help the most.
Since it is a sensitive subject, approach the matter carefully and without overstepping the limit. Help them understand the benefits of the situation and make them realize that they can set their terms and dictate the decisions to you beforehand.
This way you can manage their affairs, according to their wishes and avoid any legal limitations.