As your parents get older, you will face tough decisions. Eventually, people need more help, and sometimes, medical conditions can make elderly individuals unable to survive independently. To get ahead of these situations, streamline and facilitate care, and avoid a more complicated process down the road, you should consider how to get a power of attorney for a parent with dementia sooner rather than later. Here is a guide:
What is a Power of Attorney?
Before learning how to get a power of attorney (POA) for an elderly parent with dementia, you must first learn what a power of attorney is.
A POA is a legally binding document that enables someone to act on behalf of someone else, particularly when it comes to their financial affairs and health decisions. Several types of POAs are available, but a durable power of attorney is most common in this situation.
We refer to the person appointed by this document as the agent. The agent handles complex financial decisions and manages these responsibilities for the elderly adult who gives them this authority.
A power of attorney can grant both broad access to an individual’s assets and affairs or restricted access, depending on the needs and circumstances.
Related Article: What Does a Financial Power of Attorney Do?
How to Get a Power of Attorney for a Parent with Dementia
Because dementia is a complex illness, it can be difficult to gauge how much time you have to consider what’s best for your parent. Making the decision to designate a POA is often the toughest part of how to get a power of attorney for a parent with dementia.
First, understand that there are two conditions a person must satisfy to draft and grant a POA.
- The person granting a POA must be of sound mind
- They cannot be subject to duress or undue influence
Essentially, a parent must be cognizant and able to knowingly issue a power of attorney for this to be a viable option. Here are two crucial situations to consider:
Related Article: How to Get a Financial Power of Attorney for a Parent
Power of Attorney for a Parent with Early Stage Dementia
We recommend broaching the issue of how to get a power of attorney for a parent before your parent enters any kind of medical crisis.
Ideally, this would occur before they receive a dementia diagnosis. If your elderly loved one has already received a diagnosis and is still in the early stages of their illness, it would be wise to work together to name a POA as soon as possible. This process involves:
- Having a candid, open discussion about the issue
- Selecting a trustworthy person to appoint with this responsibility
- Contacting a lawyer to draft a power of attorney document
- Signing the POA document with the principal and witness in the presence of a notary republic
At this stage, drafting and designating a POA is relatively simple. However, when an individual enters the later stages of dementia, it becomes considerably more difficult.
Related Article: Reasons to Get a Power of Attorney for a Parent with Alzheimer’s
Power of Attorney for Parents with Mid- to Late-Stage Dementia
Determining how to get a power of attorney for a parent with dementia is significantly more complicated when they are in the later stages of the disease.
A key consideration is the extent of impairment. The person signing the document and creating the POA must understand what they are doing. Sometimes, families have to consult with medical professionals to determine if a parent has sufficient mental capacity.
These professionals may be required to testify in court, depending on the circumstances. If an individual cannot understand the power of attorney document, their loved ones must request help from local courts.
Judges can also review the circumstances, and if eligible, grant someone the title of conservator. In other situations, families sometimes have to petition the courts to obtain a conservatorship.
Still, the process for obtaining a conservatorship is significantly more complicated and expensive, so we encourage being proactive.
Related Article: How Soon Should I Set Up a Power of Attorney in California?
Get Expert Help Managing Your POA Financial Responsibilities
Whether you have obtained a power of attorney, or conservatorship, you have significant responsibility. Determining how to get a power of attorney for a parent with dementia is just the beginning of this emotionally draining process. You are in charge of handling their financial affairs. This is complicated, and failing to perform your duties can have significant consequences.