It’s important that older adults take the time to designate a power of attorney (POA). If you are ever unable to make financial or medical decisions for yourself, it will be important to have someone you trust who is legally able to make these important decisions on your behalf.
What is a Power Of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that grants someone whom you trust the power to make decisions on your behalf if you should ever be unable to make those decisions yourself. A special (or limited or non-durable) power of attorney allows you to give someone authority to act on your behalf for a specific task or specific scope or even for a specific timeframe. For example, you might give your son or daughter a special POA in order to sign for you at a real estate closing. Likewise, you might give your spouse a special POA to make health-related decisions on your behalf before a surgery. As another example, you might give your son or daughter a special POA to pay your bills and manage your investments for a specific amount of time. It’s important to note that special POAs become invalid if the person who granted it becomes incapacitated. However, a durable power of attorney (DPOA) generally remains in effect throughout the life of the person who granted the DPOA (unless they revoke it). There are two main types of durable POA: financial power of attorney and medical power of attorney. Because life is unpredictable, it is wise to have POAs in place for both finances and medical.
To Whom Should I Designate Power Of Attorney?
It can be difficult to make the decision about whom you should grant power of attorney. Keep in mind that this person could be making significant decisions about your health in a medical emergency, or controlling your finances. The designee should be someone that you trust, or ideally someone with experience handling these situations. Your designee should be someone who demonstrates loyalty to you, understands your wishes and desires and takes their commitment to you seriously. When you designate a medical POA, take the time to fully communicate your wishes and desires in the case of a life threatening emergency. Likewise, if you designate a financial POA, make sure the designee has the contact information for your financial planner, attorney or any other relevant financial services professionals. Keep in mind that you don’t need to designate the same person as both your financial and medical POA. For example, you may want your spouse to be your medical POA, but prefer to use a business partner or adult child for your financial POA.
Where Do I Get a POA?
An experienced local attorney can recommend and draft up the power of attorney that will work best for your needs and comply with your state-specific laws. Although you can technically create a POA on your own, self-drafted POAs have many limitations and may not cover all of your needs. It is best to work with an experienced lawyer. To find one in your area, you might start by asking family or friends for a referral.
The professionals at Lighthouse Senior Living are happy to discuss with you the documents we recommend that our residents have in place before making a move. To learn more about our supportive communities, contact us to schedule a tour today.