Why are Power of Attorney and Personal Directive so Important for Seniors?
Bring up talk about legal documents and many people’s eyes begin to glaze over, especially if you’re a family caregiver. After all, you have enough to do caring for your senior loved one without worrying about complicated legal issues and paperwork, right? However, two legal documents can potentially be important in the life of family caregivers and the seniors for whom they care: Personal Directive and Power of Attorney.
Generally, a Power of Attorney “POA” is a legal document that gives an individual the power to act on another person’s behalf. In other words, having this document in place could give the older adult in your life the confidence in knowing that choices about their financial life would not be left in the hands of a stranger if they no longer could make decisions for themselves. A POA allows adults over the age of 18 to designate another adult to manage their financial affairs if, because of health issues, they couldn’t.
More specifically, an enduring POA is one that can stay in effect even when the individual can no longer make decisions on their own or loses capacity because of a physical, mental, or cognitive condition.
So why go through the hassle of putting these legal documents in place? Not doing so can creates a risk. For instance, if something happens to your loved one who does not have an enduring power of attorney, you may have to go to court to get the authority to handle that person’s financial affairs and that can take weeks to months.
A Personal Directive is a “medical” power of attorney legal document. In general, a Personal Directive makes one individual a healthcare Agent for another. Depending on the situation, this can allow the Agent to do, for example, the following: