Do your parents have their documents in order to give you or someone else in your family the right to conduct business for them or make medical decisions for them in case of an emergency? These documents are called Powers of Attorney and they are critical.
It may seem like you are trying to put your nose in their business or get involved in their private affairs. But, if you need to make a decision for them or conduct business for them – either temporarily or permanently – you will need a power of attorney.
There are basically two types of powers of attorney your elders should have. (Note: I’m going to discuss this with respect to eldercare; it is not limited to eldercare, but I won’t be covering other scenarios here.)
Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management (DPOAFM) gives you or another designated person the right to conduct business on behalf of your elder.
Examples of DPOAFM uses:
- Conduct business transactions, sell real estate or personal property, perform maintenance of real estate or personal property and manage banking affairs.
- Make decisions in the areas of retirement benefits, government benefits, trust and estates.
- Employ personnel on behalf of the one assigning the DPOAFM.
- Handle tax matters, charitable donations, gifts and family business.
- Allows DPOAFM holder to enter into litigation or legal claims on the assignor’s behalf.
Basically, if you think business dealings, think Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management.
Medical Power of Attorney gives you or another designated person the right to be your elder’s medical agent.
Examples of MPOA uses:
- Ability to see, handle and discuss the medical records of the elder giving the MPOA.
- Permission to make decisions about care and treatment.
- Speak to doctors or care providers regarding the elder.
- Talk to the ladies at the front desk in the doctor’s office, hospital or lab. (Here we go about the ladies again…)
- Order and purchase prescriptions, supplements and medical devices.
A lawyer can create these documents for your elder or you can purchase a basic form on the Internet. The exact requirements can vary by state. Check to make sure that you have documents that work in both your state and the state where your parents reside. Generally, the documents require two, unrelated witnesses and may need to be notarized.
Now, I know, you are thinking – they won’t EVER relinquish their hold on affairs. Well, POAs are always given at their discretion, always revocable and decisions always remain in their hands until there is a need for the POA. POAs can be used temporarily or for long periods of time. Your parent or elder has final discretion over who gets the POA and when that person(s) gets to exercise it. Unless, of course, that emergency happens and they are unable to give permission.
That’s when you wish you had put your big, ol’ nose in their business and gotten the POA documents done when everyone was alive, alert, awake and enthusiastic.
Next week, we’ll talk about who needs copies of these documents and what government agencies think of POAs (hint: not much).
(Note – I’m not an attorney or legal professional. This is not legal gospel. I’m just trying to get you going on some of the most important items in eldercare.)