As your loved one’s age, it’s important to have those difficult conversations. These include talking about who will take care of your loved one when they are no longer to make decisions for themselves. Creating a Power of Attorney for financial and healthcare decisions early on can make the process significantly easier for everyone, especially if your loved one develops Alzheimer’s or dementia.
When discussing POAs it important to know that there are 2 types: healthcare and financial. A healthcare POA makes decisions about the person’s health and care if they are unable to do so whereas a financial POA makes decisions about a person’s finances. A healthcare POA can decide what medical care the person receives such as surgeries, medicines, where they live, what they eat, who bathes them, and more. A financial POA can pay taxes, pay for healthcare and housing needs, pay bills, manage investments, social security benefits and more. There can be a separate person or persons for each type of POA.
Setting Up a POA
It’s crucial to have these conversations regarding POA’s with your loved one before it’s too late. A POA document must address all aspects including when the POA goes into effect whether immediately or once the person is unable to make decisions. It should outline how involved the person wants the POA to be, what their defined duties are, if they should be compensated for their time and work, and any other detail you can think of. The more detailed the document is, the easier the process will be. It’s a good idea to discuss these documents with a lawyer to make sure everything is properly set in place.
If the person who is granting the POA is suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia and can no longer make their own decisions, they are not legally able to sign a power of attorney form. A person must know and acknowledge what they are signing to prevent cases of elder abuse and other crimes. If no POA is set up in this event, you can become a conservator, which can take lots of time and costly court procedures. That is why it is so important to set these important aspects up as early as possible.
Talking about who will take care of you if you no longer can is a difficult but extremely necessary topic. Choosing a power of attorney, or multiple power of attorneys will ensure that everything is in place if or when you can no longer make decisions for yourself. Along with assigning a POA, a living will is another important document to have set in place early on. A living will take some of the pressure off your loved ones and even POA’s because it typically describes your wishes when it comes to healthcare and even finances. If you have questions, you should consult a lawyer to ensure you are properly set up.