The Power of Powers of Attorney

May 15, 2018

If you are between the ages of 20-70 there’s a good chance you have use for utilizing the legal tool of power of attorney. A power of attorney gives legal power to a certain person to act on another’s behalf. The document delineating power of attorney can be general or as specific as you would like, leaving much discretion for exactly what the appointed person is able to do. It is a simple tool that, in Arkansas, does not require court participation to implement.

 

KIDS

If you are going to have someone care for your children while you are out of town it would be to your advantage to appoint a grandparent, another relative, or close friend to have a temporary power of attorney over your minor child(ren) during the duration your trip. This allows that person to make medical and other important decisions, such as school-related business or other extracurricular activities for the child while you are out of town. Consider how many forms have to be signed and decisions made for your children on a weekly basis, not including the unplanned visits to the doctor, etc. Most importantly, from a healthcare aspect, what constitutes medical necessity is a very grey area. The last thing you want is for a medical provider’s hands to be tied because the person caring for your child does not have the proper authority to consent to medical treatment. The simple measure of instituting a power of attorney could help facilitate the best possible decision-making for your child while you are away.

 

AGING PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS

The importance of appointing someone to have power of attorney for your elderly parents and grandparents cannot be stressed enough. As you are probably aware, scammers are everywhere and the elderly are their most targeted prey! Even once sharp professionals can begin to experience routine lapses in judgment when it comes to making good financial and medical decisions once they reach a certain age, which is where a power of attorney can come into play. It may also come into play when these individuals need assistance managing their affairs because of mental or physical capacity limitations. The power of attorney will allow the person appointed to assist with financial or medical issues. The individual must execute the power of attorney when s/he still has the capacity to understand and sign the document. If you do not have any legal authority in place prior to incapacity then you will have to get the court involved and go through the legal process of petitioning for adult guardianship in order to be appointed as guardian of the person and/or estate.

There are two different kinds of power of attorney that provide protection for your loved ones: general durable power of attorney and power of attorney for healthcare. The general durable power of attorney will allow you to help your loved one with their financial affairs and help grant you access to accounts. The power of attorney for healthcare will allow you to help your loved one with healthcare decisions. If a loved one is giving indications that they may need help making major decisions, a power of attorney should be put in place sooner rather than later. As a personal example, my grandfather invested upwards of $100,000 in silver coins, draining his life savings and eventually putting some of the payments for these coins on credit cards. My relatives are currently scrambling trying to come up with some way to recover his losses. If a power of attorney had been in place for my grandfather before this occurred, this may have been avoided or at least remedied very quickly. Look for the warning signs, they are there!

One document can make such a difference in the life of your loved ones. Utilizing a power of attorney places the legal responsibility in the hands of the party best suited to making important decisions at that time, resulting in the ideal outcome for all parties involved.