It can be a complicated endeavor to deal with the needs of a parent. Issues like transportation, enabling social interactions to take place, monitoring medication schedules, attending to household tasks, and more will arise. In addition, they may no longer be able to handle paying the bills and other financial matters. The need to step in and help oversee care can arise gradually or come on suddenly. Some preliminary discussion and early planning can go a long way to ease the transition to caregiver. An important tool in managing the process is a power of attorney.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that a person signs to grant an individual or business the authority to act on their behalf. The person signing the power is called the principal. The person granted authority is called the agent. The document is only legally binding if the principal signs when they are legally competent. Someone with memory problems, such as dementia or another inability to understand what they are signing, is not able to sign a power of attorney. In this case, the path to follow would be for a court to appoint a guardian to act on his or her behalf.
The power of attorney can be general or limited. If it is general, then the agent is granted all the powers and rights of the principle. If it is limited, then the agent has only those powers and rights listed in the document. When a power of attorney begins and ends depends on how it is written. It can be durable and go into effect upon being signed and last throughout any period of incapacitation. It can also be springing and go into effect only when the principle becomes incapacitated. Incapacitation can be described in the document. A doctor will most likely need to make the determination. These can be tricky because there is not always a fine line of when a person no longer has the capacity to make decisions on their own behalf.
Who Should Be the Agent?
When siblings are involved in providing care to parents, the issue of who does what will arise. Siblings may not agree and may differ in belief systems, concepts of the nature of caregiving, and personalities. Sometimes differences reflect power struggles and rivalries from the past. These differences need to be set aside in favor of focusing on what is best for the ailing parent.
The agent should be the person the parent feels most comfortable having act on his or her behalf. Siblings should agree to chip in, based on practical matters of proximity, available time, and ability to help. Once caregiving is underway, discussions of ongoing care should happen frequently among all the siblings, so that everyone is in the loop.
Media Wills and Estates Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Develop a Power of Attorney to Suit Each Family’s Needs
If you need help with estate planning or determining a power of attorney, meet with one of our experienced Media wills and estates lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. We can provide legal advice on caring for an aging parent. Call 610-565-3701 or contact us using our online form for a free consultation. With offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.