Power of Attorney for Elderly Parents

Written by Jonathan Breeden

December 5, 2016

The average life expectancy is increasing and Americans are finding themselves with decades to live out their golden years. However, because life does not always go as planned, you should do everything you can to prepare for potential problems, including drafting a power of attorney to allow your loved ones to handle decisions for you should your mental or physical capabilities dwindle. If you are someone with aging parents, having them sign a power of attorney could make things easier if they ever need someone to step in and care for them when they are unable to do so themselves.

If you have questions about a power of attorney or need help discussing one with your loved ones, contact experienced family law attorney Jonathan Breeden today. Call Breeden Law Offices at (919) 661-4970 to find out how we can help you.

What is a Power of Attorney?

The Power of Attorney (POA) document is one that allows another person control over certain decisions that need to be made on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself. These decisions are generally related to financial or health care matters. POAs can make these decisions for you in the event that a mental or physical disability that has rendered you unable to make competent decisions. The person you appoint with a POA is usually referred to as the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent,” while you, as the appointer, are called the “principal.”

Different Types of POAs

North Carolina accepts different POAs that cover a principal’s financial or medical arrangements. Below is a short explanation of the 3 types – statutory short form, financial durable, and health care durable.

Statutory Short Form POA

A statutory short form POA is, as the name suggests, a POA written in short form. The statutory short form POA document includes a list of categories over which the agent may have power, including:

  • Real and personal property transactions
  • Bonds, stock, or other securities held by the principal
  • Banking-related matters
  • Decisions about the principal’s personal business operations
  • Various types of insurance, such as life, disability, or health insurance
  • Matters pertaining to the principal’s estate
  • Taxes
  • Charitable donations or gifts

This type of POA may be extinguished or may continue indefinitely based on the principal’s wishes. While this POA is valid and acceptable, it is somewhat abbreviated and is often not the preferred POA. A durable POA is often chosen because it is usually more in-depth and expansive.

Durable POAs

A durable POA might also be referred to as a financial or a health care POA, depending on how it is used. This POA is supposed to last indefinitely (hence the word “durable”) so that the attorney-in-fact can make decisions should the principal become mentally incompetent. To ensure its longevity, the statute suggests including phrases such as “This power of attorney shall not be affected by my subsequent incapacity or mental incompetence,” or “This power of attorney shall become effective after I become incapacitated or mentally incompetent.”

Financial durable POAs allow the attorney-in-fact to be involved in a myriad of financial matters, from selling a principal’s home to signing his or her personal checks. A health care POA puts the attorney-in-fact in charge of your medical care, including your personal wishes to remain on life support or to not receive such life-prolonging treatment.

Durable POAs generally commence once the principal is deemed mentally incompetent, but can be written so that they start before this happens. Additionally, the principal can elect to include a time when the POA is revoked, though the attorney-in-fact is usually removed when:

  • The principal dies
  • The attorney-in-fact becomes mentally incompetent
  • The POA form is torn up or rendered unreadable in some way, by the principal (this is generally only true if the POA was not recorded with the office of the register of deeds)

Contact a North Carolina Family Lawyer

It can be difficult to think of your parents as getting old and needing increased care, but it is a fact of life. You might feel more comfortable with their aging if you speak to them now about setting up a power of attorney to oversee their financial and health care matters should they ever need the extra help. After spending close to two decades in North Carolina’s family courts, attorney Jonathan Breeden has become very familiar with the POA process, and can provide vital information as well as draft your paperwork. To discuss POA options, call Breeden Law Offices at (919) 661-4970 today.


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