What to Consider Before Becoming a Power of Attorney (POA) for a Loved One

January 14, 2019

Read this important information before agreeing to become a power of attorney (POA) for a friend or family member.

An important legal document for older adults to have is a power of attorney, often referred to as a POA. It allows you to designate someone to act on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

There are four basic POA categories:

  • General Power of Attorney: Awards a designee wide-ranging power, such as the authority to pay bills or hire and pay an in-home caregiver.
  • Special Power of Attorney: Can be granted for a specific, one-time purpose. For example, to sign home purchase paperwork, if you will be out-of-state, or to sell a car if you can’t be there to handle the sale.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney: Gives a person you designate authority to make health-related decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: A provision that ensures your wishes are maintained and the authority of your POA is honored in the event you become mentally incapacitated.

If a senior in your life asks you to act as a POA, it might be tempting to agree without considering what the role really entails. But there are important details to think through before you accept a request to become a POA for a friend or family member.

Are You the Best Person to be a POA?

Here are a few factors to understand about POA responsibilities:

  • Do you live close enough to quickly get to the senior’s home in the event of an emergency?
  • Are you comfortable making tough decisions? This is especially important for those who will be a health care POA.
  • Do you feel at ease managing or overseeing financial affairs? A POA will often need to assist with bill paying, asset liquidation, and overall financial support.
  • While this one may be tough to consider, family dynamics can make accepting a POA role too difficult. When families can’t agree, hiring an attorney or other professional to fulfill the POA role might be better.
  • If you know your loved one’s wishes aren’t shared by other family members, will you be strong enough to stand up to peer pressure? A POA’s job is to make sure the senior’s directives are followed.
  • Is your health good enough to take on these responsibilities? Many POAs aren’t required to act very often. But in the event of a crisis, the role can become very demanding so it is important to consider your health before accepting.

Financing Senior Living

One task a POA might be called to assist with is selecting a senior living community and creating a budget to finance it. “Financing Your Retirement” is a resource we created to help you learn more.

We cover options from the Aid & Attendance program for veterans to exploring life care funding. If you have additional questions, please call us at (423) 478-8071. We’ll be happy to help you find the answers you need!