Do I Need a Power of Attorney for My Aging Parent?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

Caring for aging parents presents a lot of significant challenges. On top of dealing with their health care, safety, and living situation, it’s also essential to plan for managing their finances. Someone has to be able to pay bills and make decisions about their home and other expenses.

A power of attorney can help you manage your aging parent’s financial matters.

The Breeden Law Office understands the challenges of caring for aging parents in North Carolina and is ready to help you prepare the documents you need to ensure that your parent is fully protected. With offices in Raleigh, Angier, Garner, and Smithfield, call (919) 661-4970 to schedule an appointment.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) the authority to make financial and business decisions on behalf of the person signing it.
A power of attorney can authorize an individual to do things like:

  • Pay bills
  • Open or close bank accounts
  • Sell or buy investments
  • Sell or buy real estate
  • Sell or buy a car
  • Buy insurance
  • Run a business
  • Cash checks
  • Apply for benefits like Social Security or Medicaid
  • File lawsuits

A power of attorney lets someone step in and handle these matters when the person who signed the document is out of town, hospitalized, or simply isn’t capable of managing it themselves. Setting up a power of attorney for an aging parent means you can help them with financial matters at any point – when they ask for help or when they are unable to manage them on their own.

When to Set Up a Power of Attorney

The person signing a power of attorney must understand what they are signing and the effect it will have. Because of this, you don’t want to wait until your parent suffers a stroke, goes into a coma or has advanced dementia to put a power of attorney in place.

It is best to create one well before it’s needed so that it is ready to go should anything happen. Your parent should create a will, a power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney (which allows someone they choose to make medical decisions for them should they be unable to do so for themselves).

Every adult over the age of 18 is legally able to create a power of attorney, and every adult should have one in place before they reach an age where competency could become an issue. Encourage your parents to create one as a “just in case” measure.

What is Guardianship?

If you miss the window of competency and your parent can no longer sign a power of attorney, you can obtain guardianship of them through a court process. Guardianship is granted when the court determines your parent no longer has sufficient capacity to manage their own affairs or make or communicate important decisions.

Guardianship proceedings can be complicated, expensive, and emotionally messy, particularly if your parent or someone else in your family disagrees with your decision. You must be able to present evidence that your parent is incompetent, which requires medical evaluations. Putting a power of attorney in place can help you avoid all of this.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney

The North Carolina family attorneys at the Breeden Law Office understand the delicate nature of working with aging parents and how a power of attorney document can help. Let us review your situation, advise you on how to best plan for your parent’s future, and put a plan in place.

Contact us at (919) 661-4970 to set up a consultation.


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