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What Are the Legal Options for Assigning a Power of Attorney for an Elderly Parent Whose Health is Declining?FAQ

The majority of adult children will, at some point or another, find themselves struggling with the challenge of providing care for an aging parent and answering tough questions about things like nursing homes, free home healthcare services, powers of attorney, and various other healthcare and legal issues. For those who have a parent whose health or/and mental faculties are declining, forming a power of attorney is a smart decision. Here’s a look at what you should know about assigning a power of attorney for an elderly parent.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person the authority to make decisions in regards to another’s financial or healthcare-related matters and to act on the person’s behalf in private affairs or legal matters. If your elderly parent signs a healthcare power of attorney, for example, then you maintain the right to make decisions about their healthcare if they are not able to do so; the same can be said for a financial power of attorney.

The Benefits of a Power of Attorney

For an elderly person whose health is declining, forming a power of attorney while they are still able to do so knowingly and willingly is important, and is something that can provide peace of mind to all parties involved. Not only does this type of document allow for another person (such as a grown child) to make decisions on the elderly parent’s behalf, but signing one willingly can also mitigate court expenses that are associated with assigning a guardian/conservator in the event that the elderly person becomes incompetent. By forming a power of attorney, a grown child knows that they can make decisions that are critical to their parent’s care and wellbeing in the event that their parent suffers any sort of harm, accident, or health condition.

How to Form a Power of Attorney

In order to form a valid power of attorney, the elderly person in question must be of a sound and competent time at the time that the power of attorney is signed. If the elderly person is hesitant about giving up their right to make decisions, consider the fact that powers of attorney can be formed that do not go into effect until the grantor (elderly person) is no longer able to make decisions on their own. To start the process of forming a power of attorney, do the following:

  1. Have a conversation with your elderly parent – Broaching the subject of forming a power of attorney can be sensitive but is a very important conversation to have. Let your parent know that you want to act in their best interests, and talk honestly about what their preferences are for their health and financial-related matters.
  2. Meet with a qualified attorney – You shouldn’t attempt to form a power of attorney on your own; instead, meeting with a qualified attorney who can guide you through the various powers of attorney and your options is a must.

Learn More About Caring for Your Elderly Parent

Learning as much as you can about caring for your elderly parent is a must. Working with senior care professionals, elder law lawyers, and other professionals who can answer questions you have about free home healthcare services under programs like EEOICPA and RECA, your legal options, and more is important. You don’t have to do this alone!