As an adult child, you want to do everything you can to keep an eye on your parents well being. If your parent has fallen sick, their financial and legal situation can become increasingly more difficult to manage as time goes on. Assigning a power of attorney (POA) is highly recommended to reduce the burdens your parents carry. It is best to do it as soon as possible before they are no longer able to make these decisions.
When appointed as power of attorney for your parents, you will be able to legally handle most of their duties. For example, as a durable or general POA, you will be able to take care of banking deposits, ensure all their bills are being paid, and handle all other important medical and insurance paperwork to continue their treatment.
In the article below, we explain all the different types of POA’s there are in California and a step-by-step process on how to become your mother’s or father’s POA. As always, if you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
1. Talk to Your Parent
Your parent must be mentally competent to make his or her own decisions. You will need to sit down with them and explain the different types of POA that you can be for them, so you can decide together what is best for your situation. Below is a clear overview of all the POA types allowed in the state of California.
Types of Power of Attorney Forms Available in California:
- Durable – Financial only. Remains in-effect if the Principal becomes incapacitated or incompetent.
- General (also referred to as nondurable) – Same as durable only the powers granted to the agent become voided if the person being represented becomes incapacitated (mentally or physically).
- Guardianship (also referred to as parental POA) – A short-term guardian for one or more minor children. This covers the child(ren)’s education, health, and everyday care.
- Limited (otherwise known as a “specific” power of attorney) – allows a resident of the state to designate an agent to take care of a specific financial matter on their behalf. The matter can be as small as picking up a car to as big as selling or buying real estate.
- Medical (or “Advance Directive”) – Health care decision-making when the parent may not be able to represent themselves.
- Tax – Used to allow someone else (mostly accountants) to handle another’s Federal and State income tax filing.
- Vehicle (also referred to as DMV Form REG-260) – permits an owner of a vehicle or vessel located in California to choose an agent to handle a transfer of ownership.
2. Gather the paperwork
Depending on which of the power of attorney forms you and your parents chose, you are going to need to find the right paperwork. A Power of Attorney has resources for all the States on their website. See the California forms explained above here: https://powerofattorney.com/california/ You will need to print this document and bring it to your parent to fill out.
3. Fill out the paperwork (Do not sign yet!)
All the forms should come with printed instructions on how to specify powers. But the basic thing that confuses most people is who represents which power. If you are the one taking power of attorney, that makes you the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.” (No, you do not have to be an attorney to be their power of attorney!) Your parent is the “principal,” so you will need to write their name and address on the space labeled “principal.”
Note: Don’t sign yet! You will need to have your signatures witnessed by a notary to make the form valid.
4. Meet with a Notary to Sign
This is probably the most important step and can also cause the most stress for your sick parent. You will need to have a notary present to both sign the documents. Most local banks and hospitals have notary services available. Just be sure to call ahead so that you aren’t making a wasted trip.
Note: Be sure to bring your parent’s Identification Card, as they will need to identify themselves to the notary present.
5. File the Form Appropriately
Now that you have the documents signed and notarized, you will need to print copies for yourself (the attorney-in-fact) and the legal entity who validates the form (such as a bank or attorney office). Be sure to give the original document to your parent (the principal) and find a safe place to store these forms.
Need Help With Your Parent’s Finances?
Marcia L. Campbell, CPA is committed to helping your parents with their personal and financial decisions that need to be made for the future. Our services include financial care, court accounting, trusts, and tax services. Marcia’s team has a genuine interest in your parent’s well-being to help guide your family through this process.
If you need help, please contact us by filling out a Contact Form or giving our office a call at +1(951)686-3608.