When Should Aging Parents Sign a Financial Power of Attorney?

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2019 | Estate Planning, Firm News

ElderlyCouple.jpgMaintaining independence is often important to aging adults, and your parents may be no different. They are probably used to doing things for themselves on their schedules and in the way that they like. However, you may have noticed a few changes.

Maybe your mom has been a bit more forgetful than usual, or maybe your dad is having trouble keeping up with his errands. Whatever you noticed may have been minor, but it is often best to be prepared for the future.

Acting early provides the most protection

A financial power of attorney is a legal document that allows your parent to designate someone else, usually a trusted family member, to manage their financial or property matters. This designated person is called the “attorney-in-fact.” (Not to be confused with an actual attorney.)

As with most legal documents, it is only valid if your parents were competent at the time of signing. Because the mental state of elderly people often deteriorates with time, it can be prudent to encourage your parents to create a power of attorney before they actually need the help.

Signing a power of attorney early can have many benefits, such as:

  • Allowing time for your parents to teach the attorney-in-fact how they want tasks completed
  • Ensuring your parents can help the attorney-in-fact if he or she has trouble gaining access to important accounts
  • Preventing the need for more restrictive measures, such as guardianship or conservatorship

Sometimes, it can be tricky to initiate a conversation about powers of attorney. Unfortunately, the future is never certain. An unexpected accident could render someone unconscious at any time, which can make a power of attorney valuable for a person of any age. However, if you have noticed signs that your parents’ mental abilities may not be what they once were, it may be even more important to act sooner rather than later.