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FlyingWolf's avatar

What should we know before agreeing to hold a power of attorney?

Asked by FlyingWolf (2815points) July 10th, 2014

A family member has asked my husband to hold her power of attorney. She has been fighting alcohol addiction for quite a while, has alienated her children and a lot of her family, and has hit her bottom. We are gathering information on what this would entail. I am wondering what advice the Collective might have for someone considering holding a power of attorney. As far as we understand it would be a financial and a healthcare POA.

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6 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Under what precise circumstances would the POA and Health Care Proxy take place? I would read the health care proxy with a fine- tooth comb to see what contingencies are covered and what decisions (including draconian ones) you might have to choose.

I would also check to see who else might come out of the woodwork if you had to step in. When money is concerned, alienated children and family have a tendency to show up, guns blazing.

If you have to act on the financial issues, how much money is involved, where is it (in the bank, managed professionally, under the mattress, ongoing income arriving)? Do you get a fee? Who oversees you if you decide to abscond to Cancun? Is there an attorney you can call on with questions? What is his fee and who would pay that? Do ALL the due dilligence.

Seaofclouds's avatar

In addition to everything @gailcalled mentioned, have a frank discussion with her in regards to what she wants. In the event that she is unable to speak for herself, you’ll be the one deciding how much medical care she receives. You want to know how much heroic stuff she wants done, such as CPR, intubation/ventilation, alternative feeding (via a tube in her stomach), dialysis (should her kidney’s fail), and more. The last think you want to do is be in that situation and not know what she really wants, especially if the family starts speaking up and trying to do otherwise.

janbb's avatar

If you are going to be her health care proxy, make sure she fills out an advance care directive stating as @Seaofclouds what kinds of medical interventions she would or wouldn’t want in the event she is unable to speak for herself. Having the form on file with her doctor and lawyer could help you a great deal if dissenting parties get involved.

snowberry's avatar

If she’s going to need both medical AND financial power of attorney, don’t let one person do both jobs. Choose either one, and get another person (not your spouse) to manage the other one. To do both at the same time could totally set you up for a lawsuit (remember those nasty relatives)!

If you’re handling finances, be meticulous in paying bills, getting receipts, etc. If you ARE accused, these may be the only proof of your honesty in the court of law. Anyone who takes on financial power of attorney must understand that it’s easy to game the system, and that’s what you can be accused of.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@snowberry is right. There are different POA’s with different uses that are very specific. It is very stressful and indeed you have to be meticulous with your paperwork and keep everything for at least ten years. It can also affect her Medicare, Disability or any other benefits she may receive, so if I were you, I’d definitely get a good attorney to go through everything in detail with all of you before agreeing to anything. You also may consider setting up a trust as well.

JLeslie's avatar

I vaguely remember that we did a POA with my family members actual banking instutions, plus having additional documents drawn up by a lawyer. The lawyer just provided us with a standard form actually. Her bank has been a pain in the ass in some instances, and then other financial Institutions have been very cooperative.

If you are going to have responsibilities for finances I recommend doing banking online so you can just use their username and sign on to take care of their financial needs. Along with having whatever forms the banking institution requires. I know all the passwords for all the bills I pay, cable, utilities, so if something is wrong with the bill I can just call up for her.

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