What important discussions should you have with family?
We often leave the “hard stuff’ out of our conversations with our loved ones.
Like Do you want to be resuscitated? If so, in what situations?
Do you want to receive any aggressive treatment if you suffer a medical condition that could be terminal?
At what stage do you want help with finances? Who are you going to trust with looking after your money and your welfare?
All the above are incredibly important conversations you need to have with your parents.
You should also think about it for yourself. Because if something happens to you, who is going to be your guardian or attorney?
If you don’t have this documentation that contains your choice of a guardian, it will be left for the courts to decide and they may not appoint the person you would choose.
I’m talking about making sure you have a Power of Attorney in place.
So, What Is A Power Of Attorney?
“A power of attorney (POA) or letter of attorney is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter, sometimes against the wishes of the other.”
Essentially what this means is that you have in writing who you (or your parents) want to look after your affairs if you cannot look after them yourself.
However, the word attorney should not be confused with a lawyer. In the case we are talking about, it means someone to act on your behalf when you can no longer do it for yourself.
Generally, this person is not paid. However, if the person is receiving remuneration for doing this job, a written contract should be in place.
The Power of Attorney document does not need to be kept private, but the contract or remuneration should be.
Now that is cleared up let’s take a look at the basics for securing a Power of Attorney document.
Power Of Attorney Basics
First and foremost, you must have what is known as capacity – which means do you have the mental capacity to set this up.
For example, if a person has Alzheimer’s Disease or some other mental health issue that renders them not to have capacity, then they cannot set it up.
You can see why it is important to have this discussion early and have the documents in place as an insurance policy for you, so to speak. Set it up now to make sure you get the people you want to speak or act for you or look after your property and finances.
Setting Up A Power Of Attorney
Now setting up a power of attorney or an enduring power of attorney, is a legal document.
While you may think a verbal discussion is sufficient, it may not be. To ensure it is binding, it has to be in writing. The exact wording or limitation of power may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction so you are best to consult a lawyer to make sure you fully understand the stipulations.
You can find a power of attorney document for you to complete here: https://www.rocketlawyer.com/sem/power_of_attorney
If you really want to save yourself and your loved one much heartache and grief by having to figure out what to do in a time of crisis, then plan ahead.
Be Proactive And Don’t Delay
Have the hard discussion with them NOW and put a plan in place to ensure they get their wishes granted. You’ll avoid the possibility of a random person who does not know you or your loved one from a bar of soap and has no emotion attached to the outcome (other than perhaps to get paid).
Be proactive. Talk to your parent, consult with a lawyer and do it right the first time.
Also, don’t forget to review the document regularly. Make sure it is always current because if something happens to the person you appoint before you require the power of attorney to be actioned, then you are back to square one not having your choice of person.
To clarify why you should have a Power or Attorney, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqUeuBZtEaY
One more thing – know where the document is and tell others where it can be found. Keep all your legal documents in the one place so you can have control over your circumstances.