How to Become the Power of Attorney for a Disabled Elderly Parent

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

How to Become the Power of Attorney for a Disabled Elderly Parent

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

As parents age, it becomes more difficult for them to carry out routine tasks to manage their financial affairs and property. This is particularly true if they are physically disabled. A routine trip to the bank becomes an exhausting task for a disabled elderly parent. If the disability prevents them from driving, it is even more difficult because they have to take public transportation or wait for a ride from a friend or family member.

Little boy and young father hold hands of grandfather in wheelchair in garden

Fortunately, granting a power of attorney can solve these types of common issues. A power of attorney appoints you as an agent to act on behalf of your parent, the principal, with respect to their financial affairs. You can become the power of attorney for your disabled elderly parent who still has mental capacity by following the steps below. If your parent already lacks mental capacity, their consent cannot create a valid power of attorney and you need to have a court appoint you, which is a different process.

1. Discuss the options with your parent.

You may think that your parent should appoint you as their power of attorney, but it is ultimately their decision, so you need to discuss it with them before taking any action. Describing the benefits of appointing you power of attorney is often a good starting point.

For example, you could explain that the power of attorney would allow you to stop by the bank on your way to work to carry out transactions for them and save them a trip. Yet, if your parent wanted to go to a bank to carry out the transaction, they still could as long as they have mental capacity. Granting power of attorney simply provides more options.

2. Decide if the power of attorney will be durable.

The next step is for your parent to decide whether the power of attorney will be durable. A durable power of attorney remains in effect after your parent becomes incapacitated and can no longer make decisions on their own. Nondurable powers of attorney terminate when your parent becomes incapacitated. In most cases, a durable power of attorney is the best option for an elderly parent.

3. Draft the power of attorney.

Once your parent decides to grant the power of attorney and determines whether it will be durable or not, it is time to draft the power of attorney document. There is no single form for a power of attorney, but the document should address who the agent is, what happens if the agent cannot or does not want to serve, the scope of powers being granted, and whether the power is durable. The power of attorney must also comply with the laws of your state. Each state has different requirements to create a valid power of attorney. You can find them in your state's statutes, often in the probate code.

4. Have your parent sign the power of attorney.

Each state has rules for signatures that make the document valid. All states require the principal or someone on their behalf sign the power of attorney. Some states also require witnesses, and some require notarization.

5. Make and distribute copies.

Make copies of the signed power of attorney document for your records and for people or entities that you know you will be dealing with on your parent's behalf. You may not know every instance that you might need to use the power of attorney, so provide the power of attorney copies to the ones you do know.

For example, you will likely interact with your parent's bank, so you should bring them a copy of the power of attorney to avoid any problems down the road. If possible, bring your parent with you. Banks are notoriously and understandably strict when it comes to powers of attorney and sometimes have additional required forms for your parent to sign.

It is important that the power of attorney be drafted in compliance with the laws of your state, otherwise, it might not be valid and would not serve any good. If you are uncomfortable drafting the power of attorney yourself, an online service provider can assist you in creating a power of attorney and instruct you on signing and witness requirements. You can also seek the assistance of an attorney.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.