A power of attorney allows someone to handle the care of the finances or affairs of another person. This can be done as a person ages and needs guidance or becomes unable to make sound decisions. It can also be useful if a person becomes disabled. Being a power of attorney allows someone to make decisions about another person’s health, finances, and much more.

So, how can you become a power of attorney for your parents as they age?

1. Start by talking to your parents.

Since it is better to become power of attorney before your parents need you to make all of their decisions, you should start a conversation about your concern for them as they age.

This can be a quite uncomfortable and complicated conversation. They can decide what powers they want you to have (if any), as well as any other possible situations which may arise. You should use this time to talk to them about their living situation as they age, as well as their thoughts on living wills (which gives medical providers guidance on end of life issues.) You should do your best to make the decisions that they would if they could.

2. Expect some resistance.

While your parents may realize that they are aging and there will come a time when they need you, it is not easy to let go. It can also be hard to talk health concerns and finances.

3. If your parents refuse (and you are worried about their health), there are options.

You may want to look into a conservatorship or guardianship of your parents. If you see them going downhill and making bad decisions, you may have to go to court to ensure that they are getting the care that they need.

4. Consult with a lawyer.

A lawyer will help you to make sure that you are legally a power of attorney for your parents. A lawyer will make sure that you have no problems in the future.

5. Make sure that you clearly list the powers that your parents want you to have.

It is important that everyone understands exactly what powers your parents are giving you. This can be hard because you have to be broad enough so that everyone knows what you are allowed to do, yet specific enough to get your point across. The advice of a lawyer on wording it clearly is worth every penny.

6. Don’t forget to sign the paperwork.

Once your paperwork is completed, you all will need to sign and your signatures must be notarized.  All attorneys in the state of Ohio are notaries.

7. Once you are a power of attorney, you have to give copies of the paperwork to those affected.

You may need to deliver copies to any banks involved. If possible, call ahead and take your parents along. If health care is involved, you will need a Health Care Power of Attorney which is a specialized document in Ohio.  You should take a copy to their doctors. If real estate is involved, you may need to file a copy with the county.

8. Always keep at least one copy with you at all times, just in case.

While you should try to give a copy to everyone that you think will need it, there are going to be times when you need to make a quick decision at the last minute. Your copy will allow you to step up when needed.

While no one really wants to think about his or her parents aging and struggling, the truth is, that for most of us, it will happen. There will come a time when your parents will need to lean on you more and more.

By talking through scenarios and becoming a power of attorney, you can ensure that your parent’s wishes are met.

Contact us to ensure that becoming a power of attorney goes smoothly.