Along with a will, powers of attorney are basic estate planning tools that provide peace of mind for people of any age.
However, POAs are especially important for older people who might require assistance for both their healthcare and financial needs.
The POA explained
There are two kinds of POAs: the power of attorney for healthcare and the power of attorney for finances. Both POAs give a trusted friend or family member, called the agent, the legal authority to make medical, legal and financial decisions on behalf of the principal.
How it works
The durable POA becomes effective upon signing, giving the agent power to make decisions on behalf of the principal concerning the matters described in the document. There is also a springing power of attorney, which is only effective at the time the principal becomes incapacitated or can no longer manage his or her own affairs. The springing power must specify the kind of event that would activate the responsibilities of the agent.
Assistance through the POA
The power of attorney is especially helpful to an older person who is still mentally competent but who needs extra help from a trusted agent to manage bill-paying tasks, decisions about long-term healthcare and other financial and medical matters.
If an older person wishes to establish powers of attorney, the time to act is well before any sort of cognitive impairment sets in. The legality of a POA depends on the mental competency of the principal. Once a POA goes into effect, the entire family can enjoy peace of mind knowing that well thought out help is at hand in case of incapacitating illness or injury.