Power of Attorney
What is it? Simply put, a power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows an agent to act in the best interest of another individual. For our purposes, I am going to speak about a power of attorney from the standpoint of handling my parents’ affairs.
Back in the early 2000s, as my parents’ health was declining, I recommended that my parents allow me to become their POA. Why did I do this? Selfishly, this made things easier on me as their health continued to decline. As their power of attorney (agent), I was able to get them a line of credit on their home to support their ongoing medical expenses. As their power of attorney, I was able to make medical decisions according to their original wishes when they were of sound mind and body. As their power of attorney, I was able to place my mother in a nursing home according to the needs that best suited her. As their power of attorney, I was able to make the guided decision to take my mother off life support according to her written wishes.
There are different types of POAs. I had a General Durable Power of Attorney for my parents. Basically, once in effect, it stays in effect until revoked. There is a Springing Power of Attorney that springs into effect at some event-like a person’s incapacity. There are also single use POA like signing on behalf of another person for a real estate closing or other transaction. I defer to speaking to your attorney for more details.
You as the grantor/principal of the POA can limit the powers of your agent (the person acting on your behalf).
Anytime I meet with a family in terms of adult children that are on the verge of becoming caretakers for their parents, I recommend a POA garnered through an attorney.
I want to be very clear, that before acting on any legal advice, please speak to an attorney. The laws/rules for a POA can very from state to state. I want to also be very clear that a Power of Attorney ceases at death. Many folks get this simple fact confused.
In my case, having a power of attorney greatly helped with any financial, medical and legal affairs of my parents, while they declined in health.
I also wanted to provide two very good resources that dive into Powers of Attorney.