There are a number of situations where a child would need authorization to make decisions for their parents; it could be part of a difficult medical diagnosis, estate planning process, or another situation. Whatever your situation, here are the basics a child needs to know when they need to become a power of attorney for their parent (a lawyer can give you more detailed information specific to your situation).
What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal process where the parent authorizes a party (or parties) to make decisions on their behalf. There are two kinds of Power Attorney that can be named by a parent:
- Power of Attorney for Finance and Property. The Power of Attorney for Finance and Property designates another person to make legal and financial decisions when a person (in this case, a parent) can’t. This document can limit those powers or grant a broad breadth to the “agent” (that person), dependent on the wishes expressed by the party (in your case, your parent).
- Power of Attorney for Health Care & Declaration to Physicians. The Declaration to Physicians document states any preferences your parent may have regarding treatment or any life-saving measures they would like taken (or not taken) in the event of a medical emergency and gives the agent the power to make decisions in those situations. Examples of situations where a Declaration to Physician document would be used if the parent is in a deteriorating mental state, permanent vegetative state, unconscious, or in a coma.
When can the power of attorney be named?
A parent can name a power of attorney at any time, as part of the estate planning process or after a diagnosis. The parent must be able to understand what they are doing and the documents they are signing. The power of attorney named can be any competent adult, such as a spouse, friend, or child.
How can a child become a power of attorney for a parent?
For a power of attorney for finance and property, the document can be drafted to cover as much—or as little—as needed. The parent can give the child, their power of attorney, the power to sign tax returns or to completely manage their financial resources for as long or as short of a period as needed. Because granting power of attorney is a legal process and can drafted to fit a specific situation, the best way to get the process started and completed is to contact an attorney.