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  • Cameron Oglesby

What you need to know before signing a Power of Attorney

Issuing a Power of Attorney is definitely not a do-it-yourself project; you need to have a lawyer prepare the actual documents. But first, there are important questions you should ask yourself. The answers will make the process quicker and easier. And they could help you avoid making a mistake, terminating the POA, and starting all over again.

· How many POAs do I need? That depends on whom you’re planning to name as agents (see below). If one person has both the qualities and qualifications to manage both your finances and your healthcare for you, great. But if not, you might consider one POA and agent for finance and another for healthcare.

· What kind of POA should I choose? If you need someone to stand in for you for a specific task or for a specific period of time – say, while you’re away on that fabulous dream-of-a-lifetime around-the-world cruise – you’ll want to choose a limited Power of Attorney. If that’s too restrictive for your needs, a general POA lets you grant as much authority as you choose. Please note, though, that your becoming incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs, your agent’s authority ends automatically.

· When should it start and how long should it be in force? A springing POA comes into effect only when an event triggers your incapacity. (In creating the POA, you can specify what constitutes incapacitation.) A durable POA, on the other hand, takes effect as soon as you sign it. With either type, you can grant whatever powers you choose – financial, healthcare, both, or some other kind. Both remain in force until your death, but as long as you’re not incapacitated, you have the power to revoke them. If you’re granting financial powers you should check with your bank(s), stockbroker, credit card companies, and other financial institutions you have accounts with about their POA requirements.

What’s even more important than the right form of POA is choosing the right person to act as your agent. So if you have someone in mind, or perhaps two people with strengths in different areas, you should also ask yourself these questions:

· Do you trust him or her to always act in your best interest? And is your answer based on past experience or wishful thinking?

· Does (s)he live nearby? If not, can (s)he travel quickly if needed?

· Is (s)he in good health?

· Are you confident in his or her judgment? Is (s)he?

· How thoroughly does (s)he evaluate a situation before making a decision?

· How well does (s)he communicate with different types of people?

· How comfortable will you feel about sharing your financial details with him or her?

· How comfortable will you feel about seriously discussing your end-of-life care preferences with him or her? Will (s)he be willing to abide by your choices even if they don’t personally agree with them?

· Can you think of any negatives about choosing this person?

Again, if one person would be a better financial agent and another better for healthcare, there’s nothing wrong with splitting the responsibilities and issuing a separate POA for each.

In a way, senior care management has something in common with Powers of Attorney. There are different types, some of which may be right for you and some not. And it’s very important to really know the people you’re dealing with. Those are the building blocks of how we work at Senior Insights.

Unlike some other senior care agencies, we don’t offer one-size-fits all packages of services to potential clients. Instead, we first get to know our clients and then custom-design a holistic senior care management plan around that knowledge. Through our thorough three-part needs assessment, we really get to know our client and their families – not just their health issues, cognition, and psychosocial and emotional needs, but also their unique values, preferences, interests, schedules, hobbies and interests. And like a good POA agent, we do our utmost to respect them.

Please contact us to learn more about what this approach can do for quality of life and independence.

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