When planning for the future of an elderly family member or child with special needs, you should consider preparing a powers of attorney. Powers of attorney are a simple and inexpensive way to help manage financial and medical accounts if you or your loved one is no longer able to make decisions clearly. For reasons of simplicity and clarity, it is usually better to have separate financial and medical powers of attorney.
Powers of attorney eliminates the worry and stress of managing financial and medical accounts during a time of incapacitation. Powers of attorney are prepared by your attorney and give control over financial and medical accounts to an agent, who is normally a family member or trusted friend. The agent is then granted legal authority to manage the principal’s accounts, usually while he or she is unable to.
Once a financial power of attorney is created, the agent has access to the principal’s bank accounts in order to pay bills, make investments, contribute to a retirement fund and pay a mortgage. The agent is also able to collect Medicare, Social Security and any other benefits to which the principal might be entitled. The agent is also responsible for filing and paying the principal’s taxes, hiring attorneys, accountants and other professionals when necessary. Since an agent has the capacity to make so many financial decisions and transactions, it is extremely important to choose an agent who is trustworthy and reliable.
Powers of attorney can be specific, giving the agent power over one particular issue, or general, which would allow the agent to manage most of the principal’s financial and medical matters. Caring for an elderly family member or friend who is incapacitated can be much easier if powers of attorney are created and allow the agent to make medical and financial decisions.
Powers of attorney are also an important option to consider when caring for a child with special needs. Parents or guardians of a child with special needs should also have powers of attorney prepared to protect their child's inheritance and assist with any medical decisions.
An adult child with special needs, who is not able to make informed medical or financial decisions, should have powers of attorney that allow his or her parents or guardians to be the agents. Powers of attorney should also be prepared for after death or incapacitation of the child’s parents or guardians. The powers of attorney will ensure the child’s inheritance is protected and excellent care is continued. However, it is important to know that an adult child cannot execute a power of attorney if he or she does not have the mental capacity to do so. In that situation it may be necessary to petition the court to have a guardian appointed for that person.
In situations where you are planning for the future of a child with special needs, taking care of an elderly family member or you may be incapacitated due to illness or medical procedure, powers of attorney can provide peace of mind and assurance that medical and financial accounts will be managed well and decisions will be made correctly. Not planning ahead can be costly and stressful for you and for your loved ones. Contact your attorney today and make sure you have powers of attorney and other necessary documents in place.