All powers of attorney are the same, right? This is untrue, and a very important thing to understand, especially in the midst of a global pandemic when disability documents are more important than ever. A power of attorney (POA) is a document that allows another person to act and make decisions on your behalf. This type of authority is especially important if you ever lose mental capacity or are unable to act. In the written power of attorney, the individual executing the document who is known as the principal, appoints another individual known as the agent to make financial or healthcare decisions for the principal.
A power of attorney can only be executed if the principal has capacity to understand the document. This means it is important for your loved one to execute a financial power of attorney while she/he still has the capacity to do so. If you and your loved one have legal documents, such as a power of attorney, that were executed prior to a dementia diagnosis being made, or if they are several years old, it is advised to update your documents.
What happens if a loved one does not have capacity and is unable to sign a power of attorney? A guardianship then would be appropriate which is a costly and timely process that involves doctors, going to court and a judge who will ultimately make a final decision. The person that your loved one would have wanted appointed when they did have capacity may not be the one that the judge deems fit.
Dealing with a dementia diagnosis on its own is challenging enough. Dealing with a dementia diagnosis with out of date or no legal documents adds a lot more challenges to the mix that many families are just not prepared to manage.
It is advised that you speak to an elder law attorney who has experience with helping families with a dementia diagnosis. There is so much more involved than just “getting your documents done”. If you think your loved one may need long term care in the future, there are ways you can prepare to manage these costs as well. Do not wait. Give us a call today to answer any questions you may have at 609-580-1044 before planning is not an option due to incapacity. There is no better time than before a crisis to plan for life ahead.
Are All Powers of Attorney Created Equal?