Power of attorney how to manage common family concerns – caring.com electricity pictures information


By considering all of the ramifications and not giving in to what others may think, or being pressured by physicians or other professionals, but by carefully choosing what’s best for your family member. Sometimes that even means that you must balance what your loved one said they wanted against the "new reality."

The desire to remain in the role of someone’s child is long lasting. Often, though — especially when working with our parents — we have to stand on our own two feet and say yes or no. The power of attorney role is one such way a person can help a loved one, in addition to taking on traditional caregiving tasks.

A friend lost her father, which left her mother with a failing business. After becoming primary agent for durable power of attorney, my friend discovered she could make decisions that saved the business, which supported her frail mother for many years and paid for her daughter’s college fees as well.

As a medical power of attorney, you may have to make a decision to turn off the machine, or cut back a treatment, or add one, or interpret the wishes of a loved one. Advanced directives leave important decisions for the medical power of attorney based on events not predicted at the time of the signing.

The first task is rather mechanical: Get a list of all of the accounts (or medications) being handled, find out who is the contact person for each account, and ascertain the history of prior transactions — especially if there have been complexities that may affect your responsibilities.

The third task, however, is perhaps the most important. As a mediator who resolves interfamily conflicts, I know it may be the most challenging one, but in many ways it is the most essential. Your family members may be your best experts, and you want to be sure that each of them will receive your call or e-mail, listen to your questions, and be a welcome part of the support team. Even if you are in charge, taking care of family members is a team effort, and your siblings are vital to your success. Be considerate and appreciative of what the others can do to help with the tasks, keep them informed on a regular basis, and include their input on all major decisions to maximize the likelihood that you can work together on an ongoing basis. Just because you have the legal authority doesn’t mean the feelings and concerns of the others don’t count!

One of the things many people don’t realize is that power of attorney ends when the person dies. This means that the POA agent does not now have the sole legal responsibility for making the person’s funeral arrangements (unless she is also the spouse, only child, only sibling, etc). It also means that although the person with power of attorney has been writing and signing checks from the person’s account for his/her expenses, she cannot simply sign another check from the account to pay for the funeral expenses after the person has died.

Although it is not a requirement in the primary agent’s POA responsibilities, it would be wise to discuss what the person’s funeral wishes are in advance, and even arrange payment. This may sound like an uncomfortable conversation, but much of the discussion of why a power of attorney designation is necessary revolves around a person’s declining health, which, whether people talk about it or not, they all know can ultimately lead to that result. There are many ways to approach this in a kind, sensitive way.

An agent on a durable power of attorney for finances document is usually given total control over the principal’s (usually an aging parent’s) money. The agent, however, may not fully understand the responsibility or limits of the role. In the worst cases, the agent misuses the DPOA to steal or to manipulate and sometimes coerce the elder into making gifts or transfers of assets to the agent. This violates the law and is financial elder abuse.

While a power of attorney is a useful document to allow adult children to assist loved ones who need help handling money, in the wrong hands it is literally a license to steal. The agent is authorized to act for the benefit of the principal, not for his or her own benefit. The takeaway is this: If your aging loved one has not appointed an agent, bring up the conversation and encourage her to do so. If your aging parent has not decided what to do if he becomes disabled and cannot write checks or make financial decisions, it is crucial that he appoint a qualified, honest person to assume that role when the time comes.

If an agent you know is abusing a vulnerable elder financially, contact Adult Protective Services in your area and report the problem. Most of these agencies have 24-hour hotlines. You need to provide specifics, such as who is suspected of abusing the elder, when the abuse occurred, and what amounts of money have been taken improperly.