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Senior Living Blog

POAs and Senior Retirement: Getting Your Affairs in Order

Posted by Jan Wieder on Nov 29, 2021 8:00:00 AM

As seniors age, it is always a wise idea to have legal and financial plans in order long before the need to have them managed by another arises.  Tackling these important estate planning decisions and tough conversations doesn’t have to be stressful.  Gathering information and good tools can help demystify the legal processes and be sure that everyone understands and agrees with the plan and their roles in it.  Power of Attorney encompasses a range of duties that an appointed agent might make on behalf of a person who cannot do so for themselves.

POAs and Senior Retirement: Getting Your Affairs in Order

We understand that many of the dilemmas related to this time are brand new territory for many families.  Luckily, we specialize in this time of life and these conversations are common for us.  Our experienced staff at Village Green retirement community in Federal Way are happy to share our expertise during all of these nuanced and potentially emotional decisions.  

POA Basics

Power of Attorney is a legal term that gives an agent, specific abilities to act on behalf of someone else, usually under pre-established circumstances.  The person for whom decisions will be made is called the principal and the person executing the decisions is usually called the agent but sometimes called a fiduciary.   Depending on the type, you may also hear terms such as advance directive or living will to indicate POAs.

Types of POAs

The circumstances under which the agent may act on behalf of the principal differ depending on the terms outlined in the document.

1. General Power of Attorney

A General Power of Attorney is the least common option we see for our senior residents.  A General Power of Attorney gives an agent to act on behalf of the principal until the principal revokes this agreement or when the principal becomes incapacitated.  A General POA is designed to help relieve tasks the principal does not have time to complete or requires advice or expertise in managing.  Because this POA ends if your loved one becomes unable to make important decisions for themselves, it is not the one most recommended for a senior loved one.

2. Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney gives the agent the power to act on behalf of the principal even in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated.  A Durable Power of Attorney is often a good fit for seniors who may see their ability to participate in decision-making decline because it can apply even if circumstances change quickly or are unforeseen.

3. Springing Power of Attorney

A Springing Power of Attorney gives the agent decision-making power for the principal only under certain conditions.  Springing POAs are often developed to take effect if the principal has a medical emergency or becomes otherwise incapacitated.  A Springing Power of Attorney could be a good choice if your loved one doesn’t need a POA yet so that you can agree together on the conditions under which it will take effect.

What Does a POA Cover?

Power Of Attorney documents are personalized and flexible, so they cover a wide range of duties, depending on needs and circumstances.  POAs end at the time the principal passes away and do not cover the will of a deceased loved one.  Sometimes, duties are divided between individuals so that one person manages medical decisions, whereas another is the financial proxy.

1. Medical POAs

These include obvious ones such as surgical, hospital, specialist care, and medication.  They also encompass psychiatric care and help with personal care.  Medical decisions may need to be made with consultation with the estate if the financial decisions are not made by the medical agent.

2. Financial POAs

Power of Attorney in financial matters can include government matters such as taxes, property/asset management, payment of debts, claims/litigation, insurance, and business management. 

Why is it Important to have a POA?

A Power of Attorney is a good idea for all adults.  It is important to have a POA so that your wishes are well executed should you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself unexpectedly.  However, the reality is that most older adults face a decline in some areas of functioning and require increasing levels of help.  The best time to have a plan is before you need a plan.  Tending to these details while everyone can be an equal partner in the conversation is the best foundational step for estate planning to ensure that everyone moves in the same direction when action is needed.

How Do I Get a POA for my Senior Loved One?

Power of Attorneys are powerful estate planning tools and legal documents, but they are not typically established in court.  This means that these documents are not typically ruled upon by a judge.  They are developed privately between the parties involved in consultation with a lawyer and kept in a safe place for access when they are needed.  A POA is best developed in consultation with key stakeholders in your loved one’s life, your senior loved one, and an attorney.

Choose Knowledgeable Partners in Your Senior’s Care

At Village Green Retirement Community, we understand the needs and changes that come with getting older.  We offer caring and responsive programming that supports our resident’s changing physical, mental health, and daily living needs.  We’re excited to talk to you about how we can put our expertise to work in supporting your family!  Contact us to set up a tour of our community and ask about our senior living availability.

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Tags: Senior Living 101, Retirement Tips