Power of Attorney (POA): Caregiver Information and Resources

A power of attorney (POA) document is an important component of elder care that provides peace of mind for both a senior and their caregiver. A properly executed POA provides written authorization that enables a person (called the “principal”) to appoint a trusted relative or friend (called the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”), to handle specific health care decisions or legal and financial responsibilities on their behalf.

There are two types of POA: a general durable POA takes effect on signing without having to prove incapacitation. The other—called a “springing power”—only becomes effective upon the determination by a physician that an individual is unable to make their own decisions regarding their property or care.

Families should prepare these legal documents long before incapacitation is a factor. Without medical and financial POA, family members must go through a great deal of red tape and expense to obtain guardianship so they can make decisions on an aging or ill loved one’s behalf.

Use AgingCare’s POA resources as your guide to understanding and obtaining power of attorney. Explore expert articles as well as power of attorney questions and conversations in the Caregiver Forum. Get answers and tips from the experience of other caregivers when preparing and using this important legal document to help an aging parent or loved one.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Power of Attorney (POA)

Q: What are the types of POA?
POA is an important legal document to include in elder care planning. The way a POA document is written determines when it goes into effect and specifies what powers the agent holds. Learn More: Types of POA
Q: What are the responsibilities of a POA?
Power of attorney designations come with certain rights as well as fiduciary responsibilities. Learn More: Things You Can and Can’t do With Power of Attorney
Q: Should a family member be designated POA?
Individuals usually choose a trusted family member to handle the responsibly of making health and/or financial decisions on their behalf, but it is important to understand the effects POA designations can have on family relationships. Read: When Family Members Feud Over POA
Q: How do I sign a document as POA?
When acting as power of attorney (POA) for an aging parent or loved one, your signature must make it clear that you are acting on their behalf and not assuming personal responsibility for the contract or transaction. Learn More: How to Sign as POA for your Elderly Parent
Q: What do I do if the bank refuses our POA document?
Some financial institutions hesitate to grant POAs access to accounts. Advance preparation and a properly written POA document may remedy this frustrating situation. Read: What to Do When the Bank Refuses a Financial POA