Power of Attorney Guide for Children of Seniors

what children of seniors need to know about power of attorney

Should You Get Power of Attorney For an Aging Parent?

As your parents age, you’ll need to make a number of difficult decisions to protect them. From ensuring they’re safe at home to safeguarding their legal and financial interests, you’ll make a number of important decisions during this time.

In regards to legal and financial matters, one of the best things you can do is establish a power of attorney. Keep reading to learn more about this important document, what it does and how to set up a power of attorney for your parents.

What is a power of attorney?

Power of attorney refers to the written authority to act for another person in legal or financial matters if they are unable to do so themselves.

When you have a power of attorney, you can make decisions on behalf of your elderly parent. A durable power of attorney takes effect immediately, but it’s not your family’s only option. You can also set up a “springing power of attorney,” which goes into effect after a certain event occurs (such as an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis).

Why you need a power of attorney for your elderly parents

A power of attorney can be useful in a wide variety of scenarios. Here are some examples of what you can do:

  • File taxes on behalf of your parent.
  • Pay bills and handle other financial obligations.
  • Make decisions about healthcare.
  • Apply for benefits, like Medicare, on your parent’s behalf.
  • Decide where your parent will live, including decisions about senior living.

Note that every power of attorney agreement is different. You can craft yours to reflect the specific needs of your family. For example, some families opt for an agreement that only goes into effect when the senior is mentally incapable of handling their affairs independently.

How to establish power of attorney for your parents

If you’d like to get a power of attorney set up for your aging parent(s) here’s a basic overview of what you need to do:

  1. Have the conversation while your parent still has full mental capabilities, because they must agree to a power of attorney before losing mental faculties.
  2. Every state has different requirements, so make sure to review the power of attorney requirements where you live. As an example, Colorado law requires all powers to be stated specifically within the document.
  3. Write down all of the powers your parents would like to grant you. If you live in Colorado, or a state with similar legislation, be prepared to get specific.
  4. If you are choosing a springing power of attorney, also write down the conditions that will mark the agreement’s activation, such as a physician’s diagnosis of dementia.
  5. In most states, all involved parties must sign the power of attorney in the presence of a notary. In some states, two additional witnesses are also required.

Keep in mind that the above does not constitute legal advice. Speaking with an attorney is always a smart move, especially when sensitive financial and legal matters are concerned. You can also create a power of attorney on LegalZoom, which is a straightforward and affordable option (just remember that it needs to be notarized).

As a local nonprofit, The Argyle has brought high quality and affordable care to Denver’s seniors since 1874. To this day, our caring team remains committed to encouraging independence and preserving the dignity of every resident who calls our community home.

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