How to Get Power of Attorney Over a Parent

By Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq.

How to Get Power of Attorney Over a Parent

By Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq.

Getting power of attorney over an aging parent is well worth considering. Nobody wants to discuss topics such as their parent's finances or what happens if they become incapacitated. However, it's crucial to talk about these issues before something actually happens, such as your parent becoming incapable of taking care of themselves.

How to get Power of Attorney Over a Parent

In most cases, you or your siblings must start this conversation despite your parent's unwillingness to hear it. Without discussing it, families don't control what happens to your parent—the courts do.

Learn why a power of attorney is an important document that all aging adults should have.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is the name of a legal document that creates a legal relationship between your parent, the principal, and you or your siblings—the agents. You can act as your parent's agent, or your parent can choose a close friend. The important thing is that the agent is someone your parent trusts because your parent is giving that person the power to act on their behalf.

Sometimes it's agonizing deciding who to appoint as the agent. Your parent can pick more than one person to act as an agent; there are different types of powers of attorney (POA), such as a durable POA for finances and a healthcare POA, so it's possible for your parent to pick different people for each POA they have. They can also choose more than one person for each POA.

How Can You Get Power of Attorney for Your Parent?

You can get power of attorney for your parent when they can understand what they're doing. You can start in whatever order you want, but generally, your discussion with your parent should include the following:

  • Find out if they have an estate plan. Approach this topic in a caring, sincere manner, otherwise, a skeptical parent may think you're only concerned about your inheritance. Make sure your parent understands that you're concerned about their future well-being. Find out whether their estate plan includes a will, powers of attorney, a trust, or anything else.
  • Explain why a power of attorney is important. Having a POA for your parent allows you to make financial and other decisions when they're not able to, such as if they're incapacitated and need someone to act for them. A healthcare POA allows you to make crucial medical decisions for them, including who to hire if they can live at home, where they should live if living at home isn't feasible, and what type of medical decisions they want you to make.
  • Discuss what their estate includes and where to find important papers. You should know how to access all insurance policies, wills, POAs, bank statements, Social Security numbers, and other important papers so that if something happens, you can act right away.
  • When should they sign a power of attorney? You must get your parent to sign a POA when they're competent and lucid. If they become incompetent, and they don't have a durable POA in place, you'll have to file for guardianship once they become incompetent to have any control over their finances or healthcare.
  • What is guardianship? Guardianship is a tedious court process that costs money, takes time, and could involve physicals to see if your parent is competent and doesn't have dementia. Have your parent sign a POA well before a guardianship becomes necessary. Elderly, middle-aged, and even younger parents should sign a POA. As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, unforeseen things could happen at any time, so being prepared for emergencies is a good idea. Your parent's guardian could be a stranger that the court appoints, so explain why a POA is preferable to guardianship.
  • Don't force your parent to sign a power of attorney. Let your parent think about this, and don't push them into it. Let them discuss this with an estate or elder attorney, or let them look into legal help online. You want to make sure your parent trusts that you're looking out for their best interest and not for your own.
  • Hire an attorney. If your parent decides to go ahead with a POA, hire an attorney to draw up the papers. You also can have the POA prepared online. Your best bet is to have someone prepare the POA for your parent so that the POA meets your state's requirements.
  • What if they already have a POA? If your parent wants to revoke their current POA, it's best to have an attorney revoke it and create a new POA. In some states, your parent can sign a paper stating that they're revoking their POA, or they can tear up the original and all the copies, but see if your state allows that. Make sure your parent properly revokes the prior POA.

Have a candid heart-to-heart conversation with your parent, assuring them that you're only trying to protect them if something unforeseen should happen. Then, you and your parent can have an attorney or an online company prepare a POA. This will give your parent peace of mind that they're protected should something happen.

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.

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