A power of attorney is a legal document that names an “agent” to make medical or financial decisions. The form is used when the person known as the “principal” is unable to make decisions for some reason or cannot be present to sign legal documents during financial transactions.
Have you ever considered the importance of a power of attorney? Everyone should have designated an agent for medical and financial decisions. If your parents haven’t named an agent, it’s time to address the documents with an elder law specialist. Here are some of the ways a power of attorney helps.
Emergency Medical Situations
A stroke, a car crash, or another emergency medical situation can require a power of attorney. If your dad has a stroke and cannot talk, someone needs to be ready to make decisions for him. He wants an agent that understands his wishes on matters like feeding tubes, medications, and ventilators. His agent will make these choices until he’s able to do it himself.
Suppose your mom is in a car crash. She’s currently being kept sedated while her body heals. She can’t pay her mortgage, but it’s due today. With a power of attorney for her financial matters, her agent could step in and make sure bills are paid.
Declining Cognitive Skills
Aging can lead to chronic health conditions that make it hard to make critical decisions. That’s another reason to make sure powers of attorney documents are in place.
If your dad has Alzheimer’s disease, at some point, the cognitive impairment will render him unable to make decisions about his medical needs and financial matters. Your dad will need a medical power of attorney to decide if he wants a flu shot, if he should be treated for a severe infection, or if he needs a feeding tube.
At the same time, he won’t understand money matters as well as he once did. He needs someone to pay his bills, manage his money, research, and enroll for insurance like homeowner’s insurance, health insurance, and dental insurance. His financial power of attorney agent can do this for him.
While it’s possible to create them online for free, it’s always best to talk to an elder law attorney and make sure the powers of attorney you draw up are official. If you don’t, you could find a hospital or bank refusing to accept them at the worst possible time. Don’t risk having invalid powers of attorney. If you do, it could end up costing you so much more.