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How to Get Power of Attorney for a Parent with Dementia

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A close-up of a person signing a power of attorney document.

Caring for a parent with dementia, especially when they transition to memory care, requires not only emotional strength and patience but also practical action to manage their affairs effectively. A crucial step in this process is obtaining a Power of Attorney (POA), a legal document that grants an agent the authority to make decisions on their behalf. 

Attaining a POA for a parent with dementia involves the following: 

  • Having an early discussion with your parent
  • Consulting a lawyer
  • Drafting a POA document
  • Signing & Witnessing
  • Filing the documents
  • Reviewing periodically

Read on to discover more about each step to understand exactly what’s involved.

Early Discussion

Before any documents are signed or plans are made, it’s important to have a candid conversation with your parent to discuss the implications of the POA and their wishes regarding future decision-making. 

This stage is deeply personal and lays the groundwork for the entire process, ensuring your parent’s preferences are honored, and that clear, mutual expectations are set.

Consultation with a Lawyer

Once the initial discussion takes place, it’s essential to consult with a lawyer who specializes in elder law or estate planning. They can provide tailored advice on the types of POA available and guide you on the best options based on your parent’s circumstances and your family dynamics.

Drafting the POA Document

Once you’ve consulted with a legal expert, the next step is drafting the Power of Attorney document. This crucial document should clearly outline the extent of powers granted and any specific wishes your parents have expressed during your discussions. It can designate authority in areas such as financial management, healthcare decisions, and even daily affairs.

Ensure the document addresses both immediate needs and any foreseeable future requirements, adapting as necessary to provide comprehensive coverage. The lawyer will ensure the POA meets all legal standards and requirements in your jurisdiction, reducing the risk of disputes or challenges down the line.

Signing & Witnessing

The Power of Attorney document requires not just your signature and that of your parents, but also witnesses and, in many states, a notarization to make it legally binding. The requirements for witnesses can vary by state, but generally, they should be adults who can attest to the competence of your parents at the time of signing.

These steps must be carried out correctly to ensure the document is valid and enforceable. Once signed, witnessed, and notarized, the Power of Attorney becomes active, granting the appointed agent the authority to act on behalf of your parents in the specified matters.

For the POA to be legally binding, your parents must sign the document while they have the mental capacity to understand the implications of it. 

While requirements may vary by jurisdiction, typically the signing must be witnessed by one or two adults who are not named in the document or have an interest in the estate. Notarization by a Notary Public often adds an extra layer of validity.

Filing the Document

After the Power of Attorney document is signed and notarized, it may be necessary to file it with specific government or financial institutions where your parent has accounts or dealings. This step ensures that the POA is recognized and can be acted upon when needed. 

Each institution may have its own filing requirements, so it’s important to inquire directly and provide them with a copy of the POA document. This proactive measure can prevent delays or complications in managing your parent’s affairs in the future.

In some jurisdictions, it may be necessary to file the signed document with certain government bodies or institutions to inform them you’ll be acting on your parent’s behalf. Ensure you understand and comply with local laws to make the POA enforceable.

Periodic Review and Updates

It’s crucial to periodically review the Power of Attorney document, particularly as your parent’s situation and the laws governing POA may change. Changes in your parent’s health condition, relocation to a different state, or updates to state laws can necessitate revisions to the POA to ensure it remains effective and reflects current wishes and legal standards.

Consulting with your attorney during these reviews can help address any changes efficiently and accurately. This proactive approach ensures that the POA adapts to evolving circumstances, providing peace of mind for both you and your parents.

Acting as an Agent

Once the POA is in effect, you can begin to act as your parent’s agent. This means you assume responsibility for their affairs as dictated by the document. It’s a role that entails considerable trust, and with it, the obligation to act in your parent’s best interests at all times.

Here are some additional pointers for a smoother process:

  • Maintain Open Communication: Keep family members informed about the process and decisions being made to promote transparency and avoid conflicts.
  • Document Everything: Keep detailed records of decisions and transactions made on your parent’s behalf should they need to be reviewed later.
  • Consult Regularly with Professionals: Stay in touch with legal and financial advisors to ensure you manage your parent’s affairs correctly and legally.
  • Know When to Seek Help: Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional senior care advice if you’re unsure of the next steps.
An older woman holds a piece of paper while his lawyer talks about what's written on it.

The Way Forward

The emotional and logistical challenges of this process can be overwhelming, but taking proactive legal steps now can prevent a multitude of difficulties in the future. Be patient, seek support, and take each step at a time.

To ensure you’re equipped to provide the best care for your parents and safeguard their interests, we at Tyler Mills Senior Living are here for you every step of the way. Contact us today for information about senior living options for your loved one.

Written by Angela Clark

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