“Should I get power of attorney for a parent?” If someone doesn’t already have power of attorney for your parent, then yes, you really should try to get one. And if you don’t think you should be the one to get power of attorney for your parent for whatever reason, then someone else should.
Estate planning isn’t only about wills and trusts. Other documents like power of attorney are important to have in place as well. This is especially true for an aging parent whose faculties may be slipping.
A power of attorney is a signed agreement where the grantor (for example, your parent) gives the agent (you or someone else) the legal authority to act on the grantor’s behalf. Unlike a medical power of attorney that grants authority to the agent to make medical decisions on behalf of the grantor, a power of attorney (sometimes called a ‘durable power of attorney’) allows the agent to make more financial types of decisions on behalf of the grantor.
The reason it’s important to have a power of attorney for a parent in place is that if your parent becomes incapacitated due to dementia or some other debilitating reason, then without a power of attorney in place it makes it really hard and cumbersome to get some important things done.
For instance, what if you need to get access to your parent’s bank account in order to pay their bills? What if you need to contact your parent’s electric company to get them to turn the electricity back on after they shut it off for non-payment? Without you being named on these accounts and without a power of attorney they probably won’t be able to help you. Because you won’t have legal access to those accounts.
Yes, you could ask the court to grant you guardianship in order to be able to make these kinds of decisions for your parent. But obtaining guardianship after your parent has lost capacity can take a fair amount of time and cost a lot of money in legal fees.
Getting a power of attorney in place ahead of time is much easier and way less expensive. It’s also a lot less stressful for you and the rest of the family.