Power of attorney: What is it and how can it help your parents?
Have you considered a power of attorney (POA)? You’re not alone. Though power of attorney is a common practice, drawing one up is not necessarily on everyone’s radar. However, it’s worth getting to know a little bit more about power of attorney and asking if it’s the right time for your family to consider one, as it offers significant benefits and protections for older adults.
Put simply, a power of attorney is a document that allows the signer to appoint a person or organization to manage their affairs in the event that the signer is unable to do so.
But there’s more complexity to consider. There is more than one kind of POA, and it’s key to identify which best suits the needs of your family. LegalZoom has a great guide to the difference between general, special, healthcare and durable POAs. And Next Avenue has a helpful roster of scenarios that can help you identify which type of POA best meets the situation.
Before you get to the point of drawing up a power of attorney, however, you’ll want to get everyone on the same page, and that starts with a conversation.
Put everything in perspective
Many people are wary of signing a POA, and without the correct context, a request to sign one could feel like an attempt to take control. The key point to keep in mind here is that a POA can be signed only by someone competent, and often only comes into effect if the signer is declared incompetent at a later time.
In this sense, it’s best to think of a POA as a backup plan, or an insurance policy. It should be a document that delivers peace of mind. Remember, POAs are all about designated trusted support. Having a conversation early allows everyone involved to reach an agreement that’s comfortable.
Create a dialogue
Whether you bring this conversation up to a parent or your parent brings it to you, make sure you come with an open mind. Be willing to ask and answer questions. This doesn’t mean that you have to have all of the answers, just that you’re willing to hear everyone and find a solution together.
And speaking of answers…
Consult an expert
Most of us aren’t legal or financial experts, but there are always resources available to provide insight and guidance when it comes down to the big decisions. For many families, bringing in informed insights from an unbiased third party proves invaluable. Any decisions ultimately remain personal choices, of course, but learning from an expert has the potential to make everyone more comfortable with the process.
Make time to talk sooner than later
POAs are designed to protect the interests and wishes of our loved ones. While it might seem premature to have a conversation about power of attorney, in reality it’s never too soon. And, as a bonus, open and honest conversation is made easier the more often we engage in it, so having a POA conversation today could support better communication tomorrow.
At Holiday Retirement, we believe that creating a supportive community starts with the right resources—that’s why we share ours. Check out our guide to navigating tough conversations for more insights.
For even more resources, visit stepupfinances.com to learn how to help your aging loved one manage their finances. Then, get in touch to why Holiday Retirement might be the right choice for your family.