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Timing for obtaining power of attorney for a parent

Competency is a crucial factor in establishing a power of attorney agreement between an aging parent and a child or other agent. The parent initiating such an agreement must be completely competent when the document is executed to ensure that its legality will not be challenged at a later date. There are various options in executing a POA based on the specific needs to be addressed.

A medical power of attorney is appropriate if a parent will need assistance in discussing or managing health care situations. Issues could be as simple as the need to ask a pharmacist questions about a prescription or as complex as discussing the need for aggressive treatment of a health condition. The POA should be executed and shared with the relevant health care providers prior for the potential need for such involvement. A financial power of attorney may provide specific responsibilities related to paying bills or managing investment accounts. A limited POA allows for an agent to address a temporary situation, expiring upon conclusion of the task in question or the designated period of validity.

When the individual is once again able to act on their own behalf, the POA is no longer effective. A durable power of attorney may be the most comprehensive option, providing the agent the right to oversee all financial and health care issues as designated. This document becomes effective when it is signed, expiring at death or upon revocation.

Because legality is a concern, it may be important to obtain advice and assistance from legal counsel in determining the most appropriate type of POA for a given scenario. Making these decisions in advance may prevent the need for someone other than a family member to make decisions about one's care and finances.

Source: Forbes, "When Should You Get Power Of Attorney For A Parent?", Jan. 7, 2015

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