You commonly hear people say, “I am my mom’s power of attorney” or “I think I should name a power of attorney”. But what does it really mean to be appointed power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a binding legal document that grants someone the authority to make decisions on another person’s behalf. That’s a big deal. Why would anyone do that?
The main reason most people sign a power of attorney is to make sure that if they lose the ability to act for themselves, someone of their choosing has the ability to make sure that their bills are paid or that they receive necessary care.
Powers of attorney usually cover financial decisions, but can apply to medical decisions as well. A medical decision maker could also be named in a document called an Advanced Medical Directive, or a Living Will.
If you are named in a power of attorney as a decision-maker, then you are referred to as the “Agent” for the person who created the power of attorney.
This means you are in a position of trust and must act diligently to protect the person’s interests. Every decision you make for the other person must always be in that other person’s best interest – even if it may not be in your own personal best interest.
You are also required to keep complete and accurate records of every detail of your actions on the other person’s behalf.
Keeping complete and accurate records not only protects the person in your care, but also protects you from potential accusations or questions from a family member or a court about your decisions. Thorough record-keeping also can help ensure a smooth hand-off of responsibilities if needed in the future.
It is important to remember that a power of attorney can only be created by someone who has decision-making capacity at the time it is created. Therefore, if a person already has cognitive limitations or advanced dementia, a power of attorney may not be an option. A guardianship or conservatorship may be the best option in that case.
Advocord's guardianship software is designed to help agents named as powers of attorneys manage the records of the person who is depending on them.
Disclaimer: Advocord does not provide legal representation and no attorney-client relationship exists between Advocord and its subscribers. The Content is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed. The accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the Content is not warranted or guaranteed.