Protecting Your Golden Years

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Your responsibilities as a power of attorney agent

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2021 | Estate planning

Many Georgia residents will need some type of care that they cannot provide for themselves. In some cases, this can happen because individuals reach their elderly years, and their faculties and abilities just are not what they used to be. They may experience serious health issues that become physically disabling, or they may experience cognitive decline that makes it difficult or impossible for them to make sound decisions.

When this happens, a family member or other trusted person will often step in to ensure that the individual receives care. However, this transition can go much more smoothly if the person has created a power of attorney document beforehand. Perhaps a loved one wants to appoint you as agent, and you have concerns about what that means. Gaining information before deciding whether to accept is a smart move.

Types of Powers of Attorney

Individuals can typically appoint a medical power of attorney agent or a financial power of attorney agent. Some people choose to appoint two different agents to these roles, and others may want the same person to handle all of these important matters. When it comes to handling medical matters, you as the agent would be in charge of the following scenarios:

  • Ensuring the handling of your loved one’s personal hygiene matters
  • Deciding what your loved one should eat
  • Determining which doctors your loved one should see
  • Deciding the medical treatment your loved one should receive
  • Assessing whether your loved one can continue living at home or if moving to an assisted living or nursing home facility would be best

In some cases, these decisions could go in tandem with the financial power of attorney agent. For instance, the financial agent may decide that nursing home care is too expensive and that in-home care would be a better financial option. If you act as both medical and financial agent, you will have exclusive decision-making power in such areas. As just the financial agent, you could also access your loved one’s bank accounts, pay bills on his or her behalf, file his or her taxes, manage property and so on.

Restrictions on power

Still, even though you would control much of your loved one’s affairs, this power does come with restrictions. Your loved one could impose specific restrictions on him- or herself, or you would need to comply with standard restrictions, which typically include:

  • Not being able to change your loved one’s will
  • No longer making decisions on behalf of your loved one after his or her passing
  • Not handing your responsibilities over to someone else

In the event that you do not want to act as the agent, you can decline your loved one’s request before he or she creates the document. If the document has already been created or you wish to relinquish your duties after they go into effect, you would need to go through proper legal channels and obtain court approval.