As a person ages, it is likely that they will need help making certain decisions. Many of these decisions can be tricky or complex, especially if multiple family members are involved. One way to ensure that your loved one is receiving the best care possible, is to protect their rights as an individual. One way you and your family can do this, is by ensuring that a power of attorney is in place before they are moved to a care facility.
Power of Attorney For Seniors
If you’ve never heard of this before, you might be unfamiliar with what a power of attorney accomplishes. It is a legal document that is crafted to help protect an aging individual. The document not only protects their independence and decision-making capabilities, but it also helps with the transition to a care facility. A durable power of attorney (DPOA) also serves as a safety net in the event of possible physical or mental incapacitation, ensuring that a trusted appointee has the legal right to make important decisions on behalf of another individual. If someone does not have a power of attorney, it could lead to not having their wishes carried out or ugly legal battles down the road.
Durable vs General Power Of Attorney
There are two major types of power of attorney: durable and general. A general power of attorney ends the moment you become incapacitated. It’s an effective legal tool in any number of circumstances, including helping shoulder the legal responsibilities of a loved one. But it isn’t suitable for a variety of important end-of-life decisions because of its lack of durability under duress. When a power of attorney is durable, that means there’s language within the document which states an agent’s authority continues to apply if you become incapacitated. There is no automatic deadline by which these powers expire. A durable power of attorney stays effective until the principle dies or until they act to revoke the power they’ve granted to their agent.
How Power Of Attorney Works
Like a trust or other similar document, a durable POA can be written to begin immediately, or to start only after a certain trigger event, such as when an elderly parent is legally declared incapacitated. For the latter case, your elderly parent would be in full control of his or her own medical, financial and other legal decisions, until declared either physically or mentally incapacitated. Powers of attorney are common legal documents, and at most require a visit to your family attorney’s office; cost will depend on your lawyer’s hourly rate. Likewise, you can also establish your POAs through readily available legal websites, which cost in the $20-$150 range, depending on inclusions (e.g., do you need just a DPOA, or also a living trust, living will, and other related documents?).
While a power of attorney may not be for everyone, it is certainly something worth exploring before ruling it out. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re waiting weeks for the courts to help. You don’t want to have to hope the judgement works in your favor or that it works in time to help your loved one.
Orchard at Brookhaven is here to offer our support through these types of difficult decisions related to care for loved ones. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about our senior living community in Atlanta.