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How to obtain Power of Attorney for elderly parents

Parent and child hold hands

Whilst growing old gracefully, it’s important to obtain a Power of Attorney agreement for the future when you might not be able to make decisions yourself. But what happens if your parent is already ill but never got round to organising a POA? It can be a horrible and stressful time having one or more parents unwell and unable to make decisions for themselves. Here’s our top tips on what a power of attorney agreement is, how you obtain one and what to do in the case of organising the agreement for a loved one yourself:

What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

There are two different types of POA that you need to know about:

General power of attorney – This is only valid for a short-term period whilst the individual still has mental capacity and allows someone of your choice to make decisions regarding your finances –if your loved one is in hospital or on holiday for a time, for example, and needs financial or domestic assistance in the meantime.

Lasting power of attorney – This gives someone you trust legal authority to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself – this has recently replaced enduring powers of attorney although the latter are still valid if made before 1 October 2007.

How do I make a POA?

It’s important for a POA to be drawn up whilst the person making it is mentally capable of understanding the process. Of course, sometimes we’re thrown curveballs and have to make that decision without their full understanding (more on that later) but it’s cheaper, easier and quicker to get one together before that occurs.

It’s important to first of all find one or more attorneys that you can trust. Once you’ve done so, the final steps can be taken in creating your lasting power of attorney. Have in mind before your first meeting with a legal professional who you’d like to nominate; whether it’s a family member, a friend or a long-term carer. No one can ‘take’ power of attorney without your say-so; you ‘donate’ the role willingly to someone of your choice. The arrangement can be cancelled at any time so long as you’re mentally aware.

What happens if my loved one hasn’t arranged a POA and is now incapable of doing so?

It’s a sad fact that one’s health and wellbeing can turn quickly; and in some cases, POA’s are not being drawn up in time. So what’s the next step if this happens?

If the individual is mentally unable to make their own decision about making a POA, they’re not legally able to sign a power of attorney form. Therefore, the case must be taken to court.

Deputyship can be sought instead of a POA. This still requires a court procedure that can be pricey but is worthwhile. The court will assess whether the person is incompetent or not and if found to be so, will appoint a deputy. All responsibilities for managing finances, medical decision, living arrangements and so forth can be consequently transferred to the chosen deputy.

Whilst deputyship is available as an option, we strongly recommend drawing up a power of attorney agreement whilst still in a fit state to do so to avoid financial costs and upset to  loved ones later down the line.

If you’d like more advice on power of attorney agreements and how to set one up, call Flackwoods Solicitors today on 01403 738777 or email us on info@flackwoods.co.uk


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