Power of Attorney 101

If your loved one were to become incapacitated and unable to make important decisions independently, what would you do?

Perhaps not the most uplifting of conversations, but considering these situations and how to handle them should be a priority, especially if you have aging parents, close friends, or elderly family members.

Putting a simple legal framework in place can help ease the concerns and give family members and friends peace of mind. Since aging loved ones must be competent to legally sign documents, it’s important to broach this subject with aging loved ones before they have serious health conditions that may affect their cognitive or communication abilities.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows an individual (the “principal”) to appoint an individual (the “agent”) who will manage financial, legal and/or health decisions on his or her behalf. Typically, the “agent” is a close relative or trusted friend. A Power of Attorney (POA) becomes effective once the appropriate signatures and a notarization is complete (varies by state.)

What is a Durable Power of Attorney (POA)?

A Durable Power of Attorney is just like the POA but becomes effective only if the “principle” becomes incapacitated (as certified by a physician.)

What is a General POA?

A general power of attorney gives the “agent” broad guidelines to make legal, financial and health decisions for the “principal”.

What is a Financial POA?

A special power of attorney provides only specific powers to the “agent” when the principle is not able to make important decisions. In the case of finances, a “principle” can designate an “agent” to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf.

What is a Healthcare POA?

A POA for healthcare is an “agent” who can make health and medical decisions on behalf of the “principle.”

How do you set up a POA?

Once the “principle” selects the agent, the two individuals should discuss the responsibilities of the “agent” and the wishes of the “principle.” At this point, the principle should consult an attorney who can prepare the customized POA documents.

If you have a tight budget, you may consider using a POA template from a reputable company that provides legal documents online. Once you’ve filled out and printed the documents, the “principle” and the “agent” will need to sign. Additional signatures and notary requirements vary by state. In Florida, the document will need to be notarized and signed by two witnesses.

With so many other priorities in your life, creating a POA may be low on the list. But don’t let your loved ones miss this important step to ensure that their best interests will always be at heart.

If you have questions about an aging family member who wants to continue living independently, contact us at 561-736-1422, toll-free: 855-730-9895, or visit www.expicare.com.

Expicare Nursing, Inc.

Owned and managed by highly qualified Registered Nurses, Expicare is a recognized leader of home health care in South Florida. For over three decades, Expicare has provided unparalleled home health care to thousands of patients throughout Palm Beach County. From post-surgery assistance to compassionate care for patients and families struggling with Alzheimer’s, Expicare provides highly skilled nurses and nursing assistants to care for your parents or loved ones. For more information, contact 561-736-1422, toll-free: 855-730-9895, or visit www.expicare.com.