An enduring power of attorney is a document that gives you the right to act on behalf of another person referred to as the principal. This is one document you need to make provision for as your parents grow older. This is because of the importance of having the legal right to execute all of their wishes in their older age.
You should seek to get an enduring power of attorney before your parents experience a mental decline, become disabled or suffer a terminal illness. The right time to get the Power of Attorney is now, even if your parents are in optimum health, a stitch in time will save you time, and resources and eliminate possible legal squabbles in the future.
You have probably heard about a power of attorney and dismissed it as one of that legal jargon. Continue reading to understand what a power of Attorney is, why you need one from your elderly parents, when you need to get one and how you can appoint one at the appropriate time.
What is an enduring power of attorney?
The process of ageing might differ in many people. While you wish for your parents to live a long fruitful life, free from chaos, understanding the unpredictability of things can help put things in perspective. When your elderly parents give you a power of attorney it confers you with the legal backing to make decisions on their behalf. For an enduring power of attorney, the document is an agreement between two or more people, in this case, you and your elderly parents. The person appointed to act on their behalf is called the agent while your elderly parents also called the principal confers the power to act on their behalf.
It is possible to have more than one person with the power of attorney. Your parents might decide to share the responsibility of their care amongst your siblings or other persons. Essentially, the power of attorney confers the right to act in the principal’s best interest at all times. This can be a relief to your elderly parents as they are assured of care even in periods of mental decline or sickness.
It is worth noting that an enduring power of attorney doesn’t qualify as a Will. All the agreements in these documents expire at the death of the principal and doesn’t cause you to inherit their Estate unless established through a Will.
When to seek an enduring power of attorney?
Unlike a general power of attorney, enduring power of attorney can be used before a person has lost capacity and run throughout their lifetime. However, you must ensure you have been appointed beforehand. This is why it is important to get your elderly parents to appoint and give you the power of attorney before they lose capacity. You can seek further help from the office of the public advocate here if your parents are considered not to have a sound mind due to dementia or other illness.
What to bear in mind when considering an enduring Power of Attorney
- The future is unpredictable: you might want to keep putting the idea off due to an optimistic future outlook. However, you must bring up the topic even if your parents are still independent and free from sickness. This also saves you from arising complications when trying to get a power of attorney for a sick or incapacitated parent.
- Have an honest conversation with your parents and others involved in such a grand decision. Seek to get them to consent without being pushy or insensitive.
- Be open to the idea that your parents may not want to confer power of attorney on you. They might choose one of your siblings or even someone outside your family. Whatever their reasons may be, you should respect them.
- Seek to have witnesses present during such occasions. If possible, get the document notarized. Endeavor to keep all the documents safe at all times if you are an agent.
Types of Power of Attorney
- General Power of Attorney: when appointed a general power of attorney, the agents conduct various tasks on the principal’s behalf. This type of power of attorney does not cover when the principal becomes incapacitated. Some of the tasks specified under this agreement include: buying life insurance, financial and business transactions, settling claims, or estate wills.
- Limited power of Attorney: in this case, the duties of an agent in the agreement are limited to specific duties and not as broad as in general power of attorney. It may specifically be for purposes such as the collection of debts, managing real estate, or health reasons.
- A medical power of Attorney: this is reserved for medical purposes. This comes in handy if the principal is facing a life-threatening illness.
- A enduring power of Attorney: an enduring power of attorney is distinguishable from a general type when the clause of the agreement specifies that they continue even after the principal is incapacitated.
How to appoint an enduring Power of Attorney
When seeking to appoint an enduring power of attorney, you should seek legal assistance as it can be complicated following the legal bottlenecks. You should also ensure you review your enduring power of attorney yearly. To get started on appointing an enduring power of attorney, complete the forms from the state trustees here.
When you have an enduring power of attorney for your parents, it is easier to make financial and legal decisions for them. This is truer especially in cases when they require dementia specific aged care. Knowing you can make guided decisions on their behalf at any point in their lives is a relief and ensure they have the older life of their dreams. Ensure that you appoint an enduring power of attorney at an early stage when they are still of sound mind and capable of comprehending the implication.
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