May 3 2019
When you were raised by your parents, you viewed them as figures of knowledge and authority. It felt like they knew everything and that they could even do anything. Of course, as you’ve become an adult, you realized that your parents are people, just like anyone else, and now that they are senior citizens, you may be in a position to do and know more than they do. And it’s because of that that at some point, you may have to consider obtaining power of attorney for their continued well being. But what is it, and when is the right time to implement it?
You Have The Authority Now
Power of attorney, or POA, is the transference of legal authority for making certain decisions or taking certain actions, usually related to finance and medical situations. Someone that is granted POA now can pay bills, conduct financial transactions on behalf of another person, and even make a decision in medical situations, such as whether to continue life support or not attempt any further resuscitation.
POA was implemented as a way for the children of senior citizens, or other trusted agents, to take on the daily tasks of life that older parents may have difficulty carrying out themselves. Activities like paying taxes, handling the transactions on different assets and investments, or even just deciding which course of medical treatment to pursue all fall under the umbrella of power of attorney.
When To Do It?
It can be difficult, as an adult child, to see someone that was formerly a source of authority and self-sufficiency begin to lose that capability. However, if something isn’t done, sometimes a senior citizen’s inability to carry out these tasks eventually has a huge impact on their ability to live out their retirement years in comfort and stability.
In some instances, it may be obvious that it’s time to seek POA on behalf of a family member. An accident is often a traumatic event that can impair mobility and decision-making ability. When that happens, everyone generally agrees that something needs to be done quickly.
With an elderly parent, it can be much more nebulous as to when to start thinking about POA. If your parent is not yet at the stage where it needs to be considered, this may be the best time to discuss it. Durable power of attorney, for example, is a type of POA that only becomes active under certain conditions, such as medical incapacity. You’ll often get the best, most reasonable outline for POA viability if you talk to your parent before it even becomes an issue.
However, for most people, POA starts to become a more frequent consideration once it’s clear that daily life, without emergencies, is becoming a struggle for an older parent. This may be due to cognitive/dementia-related issues, such as no longer being able to focus on longer financial documents, such as tax forms. Or it may be after mobility issues begin to set in that make regular trips to the bank or handling bill payments difficult. Once a parent needs more assistance, such as housekeeping, a service we provide, to get through the day, it may be time to think about obtaining POA.