Aging can compromise an elderly loved one’s health, quality of life, and ability to make sound decisions. Before things get to the point where your loved one becomes incapable of making decisions in their best interests, you must secure power of attorney. Of course, securing that legal right from your parent or grandparent is easier said than done. Broach the topic without enough tact, and you could end up hurting your loved one’s feelings.
Let’s take this opportunity to discuss how to get power of attorney. Learn how to approach that topic with your loved ones so they can see the benefits of drafting those documents. We will also go in-depth on the legal right itself so you can better understand what you are endorsing.
Why Do You Need a Power of Attorney?
Your parents or grandparents will not warm up to the idea of providing power of attorney until they know what it does. It is your job to provide a basic explanation demonstrating that legal right’s value.
In essence, granting someone power of attorney means you authorize them to make decisions on your behalf. However, their decisions should align with the document’s contents.
The principal, otherwise known as the person conveying power of attorney, has complete control over this legal process. They can offer little in the way of authority or grant plenty of it to their agent, the person receiving the power of attorney.
How useful the power of attorney is depends on how long it is supposed to take effect.
Your loved one could arrange for a springing power of attorney, and that type of legal right only conveys if they have become incapacitated. A principal can also offer a durable power of attorney. That legal right remains in effect before and even while the principal is incapacitated. A durable power of attorney may only be rendered ineffective according to the terms of the document or if it is successfully revoked.
Seeking power of attorney is also recommended to have some authority regarding important matters such as your loved one’s finances and medical care.
Rights Granted by Financial Power of Attorney
Let’s start by discussing the rights you may receive after being granted financial power of attorney. The extent to which financial power of attorney can prove useful is remarkable.
For starters, giving someone financial power of attorney allows them to complete financial transactions on your behalf. You can authorize them to make expensive purchases like vehicles and real estate properties. They can claim your retirement benefits if you are too busy to handle that matter yourself. The agent given financial power of attorney may also have the right to manage bank and investment accounts.
Notably, a principal may also task their agent with handling tax-related matters. In New York State, an agent with power of attorney can decide on audits and settlement agreements. You can also give them the authority to receive information related to your tax filings, assessments, and notices.
Rights Granted by Medical Power of Attorney
If you are wondering how to raise the topic of obtaining power of attorney with your parents or grandparents, that may be because you have concerns about their well-being. Developments in recent months have given you reasonable causes for concern. You are worried that your loved one may suffer from a health crisis in the relatively near future, and you want to know their exact wishes regarding medical care. More importantly, you want to ensure that those wishes are honored.
Also known as a health care proxy in New York State, a medical power of attorney allows the agent to decide what type of care the principal receives. Of course, the agent is bound by the power of attorney document. They must only act in accordance with what the document has outlined, and they cannot extend their authority beyond that.
Unlike the financial power of attorney, a health care proxy only takes effect when the principal has become incapacitated. It does not matter if the agent already possesses the document. The principal will retain the final say over their care as long as they are of sound mind.
How Should You Sell a Loved One on Granting Power of Attorney?
After going through the rights granted by a power of attorney, it is easy to understand why securing it from your loved one is something you must accomplish sooner rather than later. There are simply too many questions and concerns that may remain unaddressed without that document.
You may already know how important that legal right is. However, your relative may remain unconvinced. Selling them on the advantages of having a power of attorney document is critical. You can do that by highlighting the points in this section of the article.
Lacking an Agent Can Lead to the Appointment of a Guardian
Perhaps the easiest way to sell your parent or grandparent the idea of granting power of attorney is to let them know about the potential consequences of not having the document. In a situation where the incapacitated adult has not conveyed power of attorney to another person, the court may step in and appoint a guardian.
A court-appointed guardian does not have unfettered control over their ward’s care or assets, but they can still make some important decisions. It all depends on how much authority the court grants the guardian.
That alone is reason enough to sour on the idea of guardianship. The court does not know what you want in terms of medical care or asset management, so why let it and your guardian make decisions regarding those matters?
On top of that, you have no say over who the court names as your guardian. The judge may appoint a friend or family member you are on bad terms with to be your guardian, and there is no guarantee they will always have your best interests in mind.
Privacy may also become an issue if you have a guardian instead of an agent. Courts closely monitor guardianship situations. The court may be learning more about your living situation, whether you want it to or not.
Settling Financial Matters May Take Longer Without an Agent
We must touch on one more downside to not having an agent oversee your medical and financial affairs. This downside specifically affects how long you may go without anyone making decisions on your behalf.
Courts in New York State take appointing guardians for incapacitated persons seriously. The judge presiding over your case may not appoint any guardian until they have heard testimony and examined evidence. On the one hand, it is good to know that the court is taking its responsibility seriously and approaching the guardianship with the appropriate care. On the other hand, that process can get so drawn out that your loved ones may go without access to your assets for an extended period.
By the way, appointing a guardian must begin with someone filing a petition. There is no telling how long that may take if your loved ones are unfamiliar with the filing process.
Make it easier for your friends or relatives to manage your affairs by outlining your wishes in a power of attorney document.
Waiting Too Long May Invalidate a Power of Attorney Document
Let’s say your relative has warmed up to the idea of creating a power of attorney document. They understand that drafting that document will benefit everyone, so they commit to making it. However, they may decide that it is not an urgent matter. They leave the topic of drafting a power of attorney document on the back burner.
You can understand why an older relative may not necessarily rush into creating that document, especially if they are still healthy. Right now, they may not see it as an urgent matter.
The problem with taking that approach to the power of attorney matters is it leaves open the possibility that a health crisis could ruin your relative’s plans. Principals must be of sound mind when they draft and approve a power of attorney document. If there were questions about their mental health when they created the document, the court may not recognize it. You are still in a situation where there is effectively no power of attorney to sort matters according to your relative’s wishes.
Avoiding that situation would be best for everyone involved. Communicate that concern to your relative so they can grasp the importance of creating a power of attorney document as soon as possible.
Bestowing Power of Attorney Minimizes Financial Risk Associated With Moving
Now that your elderly relative is experiencing more health troubles, they may have decided to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility. Senior living facilities can offer valuable support to their residents, but one would need to pay more attention to the risks they also present. Nefarious individuals who do not hesitate to prey on older adults may sink their fangs into your loved ones. They may trick your relative into making unnecessary payments and other similarly bogus financial transactions.
Ideally, your loved one should be able to safeguard their finances even if they are staying in a retirement community. In reality, staying on top of their finances may prove tricky if they are already struggling with health issues.
You can handle that task for them by assuming the role of an agent. Secure financial power of attorney and keep close tabs on your relative’s bank accounts. Check with them frequently to see if they know all the recent transactions.
Conveying Power of Attorney Helps With Stress-Free Vacations
Lastly, you can sell your relatives on the idea of creating a power of attorney by telling them about the impact it could have on their vacation plans. Your parents may have dreams of traveling worldwide, but they have put those plans on hold because they still have plenty of matters to take care of at home.
You want nothing more than to see your parents realize their dream, so present them with an opportunity to do so. Tell them you can handle their outstanding obligations if they give you power of attorney. Give your parents the stress-free vacation they have long deserved after securing that legal right.
How Do You Create a Power of Attorney Document in New York State?
The process of creating a power of attorney document in New York State is fairly simple.
Start by asking your relative about the type of document they want to create. Ask them how long they would like the document to remain valid and which matters it will cover. This is also the time when your relative should think of their agent. They should already have an idea of who they would like to serve in that capacity, whether it is you or someone else.
Once you have those details from your relative, you should contact an estate planning attorney. Mention the information your relative has provided and have the attorney guide you through creating the document’s outline. The attorney can also print out the document. Your relative can write the document by hand, but their penmanship must be legible.
Make sure your attorney reviews the document before moving on to the next steps.
Your relative can now affix their signature and the date to the prepared document. The signing must take place in front of witnesses. The document may also need to be notarized. Consult your estate planning attorney to find out if notarization is necessary in your case.
At this point, all that is left is to have the agent sign and date the power of attorney document. Once the document is ready, you can hand it over to your attorney for filing. They can file it with the relative entities to ensure it will be honored whenever it is presented.
Discussing power of attorney with your elderly relative may not be a pleasant conversation, but you must have it sooner rather than later. Use the points detailed in this article to convey the importance of that document and secure their approval. Reach out to us today, and we will help draft the power of attorney document that covers all your relative’s concerns!