What does it imply to be appointed to the authority of getting older mother and father?
We keep seeing confusion about what it means to be appointed in a Permanent Power of Attorney (DPOA) for aging parents with authority over money. The elders do estate planning, and that’s part of it. Well. A permanent power of attorney is signed by the aging parents. Well. But they can misunderstand what they have promised when they need the decision-making person they have appointed. They have to allow what they want. Sometimes they don’t and vigorously resist relinquishing control. Likewise, the appointed person, usually an adult child, may not be aware of the appointment or understand what to do and when. It is confusing!
General power of attorney
On AgingParents.com, where we bring up this topic a lot, only here three frequently asked questions from many We hear from families with an abridged variety of answers we give.
Q: Can my father, who is in charge of our family finances and now has dementia, get rid of the DPOA? he signed years ago and hired me to manage his money if he needs help?
Answer: It depends! If your father has dementia, a doctor will need to see him to see if he still has the “ability” to make financial decisions. It is a legal provision, but with the help of doctors and especially psychologists who can carry out the evaluation and offer standardized test results. If his financial capacity is determined, he can revoke the DPOA at any time. If he is not legally competent, he is no longer legally able to revoke the document. Efforts to do so can be challenged, but you may need to go to court to prevent him from revoking them.
Q: What if my father is found to be incapable of making financial decisions? If I am the DPOA’s appointed representative, when can I use this power?
Answer: As long as you have met all the requirements specified in the DPOA document itself, you can immediately take over financial sovereignty. Some DPOA documents require a doctor or even two doctors to say that Papa is no longer legally competent before you can act. (Bad planning from the attorney who wrote it when Dad refuses to go to one doctor, let alone two!) Other DPAs say the document is effective immediately. Your power of attorney is in the paper itself, which Papa probably signed and notarized some time ago.
Q: Can I stop Dad from giving away money frivolously or doing stupid things with his property if I’m the appointed agent of his DPOA?
Answer: Yes, usually the DPO gives the agent full authority over all financial matters. This is great when the agent is honest and acts in the best interests of the aging parents. It protects the impaired parent from financial abuse. However, if the agent is a thief or an opportunist, the DPOA is a license to steal. And when that happens, there are legal ways to stop the thief. It will likely require that a senior law attorney be hired to step in and obtain the removal of a dishonest agent who is in control of your aging parent’s money. This step is expensive. The amount at stake should determine what the affected family does.
I’ll cover more of the many issues surrounding the DPOA, sometimes referred to as financial authority or other terms, in subsequent posts here. Since we at AgingParents.com are a team of nurses, lawyers and psychologists, we see and advise many aspects of problems families have with the DPOA. These documents are not monitored by the courts unless someone takes a case to court. It can become a freelancer in families when a disabled parent refuses to allow the appointed individual to take over if necessary. With good communication within your family and intelligent estate planning from knowledgeable lawyers, some of the many tricky problems can be avoided.