Executing a Power of Attorney for an Elderly Parent
A Power of Attorney (POA) can be an important tool to help an older loved one appoint a trusted person to manage their legal, medical or financial affairs should there be a need sometime in the future. However, POA’s are not without limitations. It is important to know what they are designed to do prior to establishing one.
Let’s look at 5 misconceptions about the authority that is granted to another party through the Power of Attorney process.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legally recognized document that authorizes a trusted person to represent and make decisions for another individual (should they become unable to) with regard to financial, medical or property matters. However, it is important to understand that the term Power of Attorney is used to not only describe the legal document itself, but also the person who is appointed to the position.
Common Misconceptions about Power of Attorney Documents
There are a number of general misunderstandings about Power of Attorneys, including:
The POA Document Remains in Force after Death
A POA is only valid during the natural life of the person granting it. Upon the death of the individual who established the Power of Attorney, the document is no longer valid with regard to any decisions being made on behalf of the decedent.
Authority to Make Medical Decisions are Automatically Granted
A standard POA only authorizes a designated representative to make decisions in the areas of financial and business affairs, not medical. If the issuer of the POA wishes their designee to also manage their medical decisions, a special Medical Power of Attorney must be created.
Estate Plans Can Be Altered with a POA
Even though a Power of Attorney enables an individual to act on behalf of another in a fairly wide range of areas, this does not apply to the POA grantor’s last will and testament. The Power of Attorney does not allow its appointed agent to make any changes to the will of the person who drew up the POA.
You Lose Your Independence with a Power of Attorney
One of the most misunderstood aspects about a POA is that the person creating it gives up their autonomy and independence to their designated agent. Nothing could be further from the truth. A Power of Attorney only gives decision making authority to another when the person that created it can no longer act on their own behalf. A POA in no way affects an individual’s ability to conduct the affairs of their own life when they are capable of doing so.
Only Older People Need a POA
While it is true that people usually hear about Power of Attorney documents with regard to older people, a POA can be a powerful tool for an individual of any age. Should a person become incapacitated due to an accident or illness, having a Power of Attorney already in place can authorize a trusted agent to manage their affairs.
Power of Attorney Documents for Seniors
Executing a Power of Attorney can provide your older loved one with the peace of mind to know that their property, finances or medical decisions are in good hands in case they are no longer able to manage them alone. Because there are so many misconceptions about POA’s, it is important to understand what they are designed to do and just as importantly, what they can’t accomplish.
While we do not provide legal advice, the highly knowledgeable staff at Frontier Management has many years of experience providing resources to families regarding Power of Attorney documents. We invite you to visit one of our beautiful communities, take a tour and speak with our friendly staff.