How to get power of attorney for elderly parents

As much as we may not want to face it, there will come a time when our parents may no longer be capable of making decisions about financial and legal matters or about health care. At that point you’ll need to be prepared to step into a decision-making role. Before that time comes, it’s important to discuss the subject of designating a power of attorney with your parents.

Powers of attorney are legal documents authorizing you to make decisions on the behalf of an incapacitated family member. The person executing the document (your parents) is known as the “principal” and the person chosen to act on the principal’s behalf is known as the “agent”. A POA can cover the decisions that your parents would have to make such as health care, medical treatments, financial deals, contracts, wealth management, etc. A POA can be given to one person or can be shared, for example, between siblings.

The first question you may have is how to get power of attorney for elderly parents in California. The state of California recognizes four different types of powers of attorney:

  • Durable Power of Attorney — the agent makes all the financial decisions for the principal, even in cases of incapacitation
  • General Power of Attorney — the agent makes all the financial decisions for the principal; power of attorney becomes void if the principal becomes incapacitated
  • Limited Power of Attorney — agent is only given authority to perform a specified duty or transaction; POA becomes void after completion
  • Medical Power of Attorney — the agent makes all the medical decisions for the principal

In California, for a POA to be legally binding, you must have two witnesses watch you sign the document, and they must also sign to confirm that you did so. You can also use the services of a notary.

Health considerations

One of the most common times that a durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions is needed is when a person suffers a debilitating stroke or in cases involving dementia or Alzheimer’s. As the agent for your sick parent, you would be responsible for getting him or her that care that they need.

When getting power of attorney for a parent, there some important healthcare considerations that need to be addressed:

  • Healthcare agent — the agent should be a person of trust that will make the same kind of decisions about your parent’s health as he or she would
  • HIPAA — the POA should include a HIPAA release effective immediately
  • End of Life Decisions — POA should include a living will/advanced directive concerning end of life decisions
  • Organ donation

Financial decisions

In addition to being responsible for making decisions that affect the physical as well as psychological well-being of your parents, you will also be responsible for making financial decisions on their behalf.

Therefore, it’s important that you’re well-informed about all the responsibilities that come with being an agent of a POA. Call The Law Office of David W. Foley, attorney for power of attorney in San Diego, to consult with one of our attorneys about the different types of powers of attorney.

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