A power of attorney, sometimes called a letter of attorney, legally gives you the right to make decisions on behalf of another person. This is necessary when the person in question can't attend to matters regarding his legal, financial or medical needs. When it's time to take power of attorney for a sick parent, communication is key. All members of the family should work together to decide who is the best person to receive the power of attorney.
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Talk to your parent about granting you a power of attorney. If your mother or father is able to make the decision, this is the best option. Many families appoint the oldest offspring to be given power of attorney. If one sibling is already a primary caretaker for an elderly parent, it may be natural to give him power of attorney. When siblings live in different parts of the country, it's usually easiest for the closest sibling to handle a parent's affairs.
Talk to your parent's doctor. If illness or diminished mental capacity prevents your parent from making a power of attorney decision, ask the doctor to put this in writing.
Contact a lawyer to have the power of attorney paperwork drawn up. There are websites offering free forms you can use to create a power of attorney, but you should seek professional legal assistance if you believe that someone may question the decision.
Sign the papers to make legal the grant of power of attorney.
Tips and warnings
- If needed, one sibling can be given power of attorney over financial matters and another sibling can be given power of attorney to make all health care decisions.
- Periodically, you will want to go over the power of attorney decision with the other members of the family. This is necessary to see that things are still running smoothly.
- Power of attorney documents need to be prepared and signed in the state in which your parents live, not the state in which you live. State laws regarding elderly care matters vary, so this is necessary to prevent problems if the legality of the documents is questioned.
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