Fight (with) the Power-Power of Attorney

April 21, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

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For the next couple of days, we’ll take a look at some of the legal issues facing caregivers and Alzheimer’s patients.

It is an incontestable fact that Alzheimer’s will ultimately render the one who has it, unable to handle day to day, legal and health care decisions.  It’s not something that caregivers or Alzheimer’s patients look forward to discussing, but it is absolutely necessary.

A few weeks ago, I did a series of posts about the stages of Alzheimer’s disease and how caregivers should respond to those stages.  As the disease progresses it will become apparent that your loved one needs more and more help; it is imperative that you (or someone close to the situation) get Power of Attorney (POA), so that the family is able to make life, legal and health care decisions for your loved one.

According to the Attorney General of the State of New York, “A Power of Attorney is a legal instrument that is used to delegate legal authority to another. The person who signs (executes) a Power of Attorney is called the Principal. The power of Attorney gives legal authority to another person (called an Agent or Attorney-in-Fact) to make property, financial and other legal decisions for the Principal.”

There are several types of power of attorney, in most cases, the caregiver wants to get durable power of attorney as it enables the caregiver (agent) to act on the loved one’s (principal’s) behalf after the principal is unable to do so because of health or other reason.  You can get the forms from an attorney or from the internet.  It’s not complicated and well worth your minimal time and financial investment.

I can’t stress how important this is.  I have had to show proof of my authority to act on my mom’s behalf for something as simple as handling an electric bill and as complex as admitting her into a long term care facility.

In order for you as a caregiver to act in the best interest of your loved one, you have to have the authority to do so.  The Power of Attorney provides you with that authority. 

Just a word of caution, the Durable Power of Attorney gives so much power and authority that, in the wrong hands it can be terribly misused.  The story of Frank Punito makes the point well.  So, be sure that the person who has Power of Attorney has your loved one’s best interest at heart.

Please, don’t be scared off by the negative possibilities.  It’s the right thing to do, so get power of attorney, NOW, while your loved one can sign and agree that he or she wants you to handle the affairs.

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5 Responses to “Fight (with) the Power-Power of Attorney”
  1. Like the article (and posts) states, powers of attorney are very important legal documents that can save many headaches when prepared well before your loved one becomes mentally incapacitated and no longer able to understand and execute the documents.

    Caveat: Financial powers of attorney, in particular, can become a license to steal when placed into the hands of an unscrupulous agent. A greedy agent can access bank accounts, transfer title to real property, and deplete an elder’s estate without the elder’s knowledge. It’s therefore vitally important that the agent to be selected is trustworthy and has the elder’s best interests at heart.

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