Many people have heard of a power of attorney, but have some misperceptions about what it is. A power of attorney (POA) is a document that allows you to make decisions and act for another person, such as a senior loved one, in legal and financial matters, in case he or she is unable to do so. Oakville home care professionals take a look at some common myths about powers of attorney.
1. Seniors Can Assign POA After Being Declared Legally Incompetent
If your loved one has been found legally incompetent, he or she can no longer assign power of attorney or execute any other legal document. If you foresee a situation where you may have to act on his or her behalf, you and your loved one should consult an attorney as soon as possible to make sure all legal documentation is in order. If your loved one is no longer competent, the only way you can act on his or her behalf is through a guardianship or conservatorship.
2. A Power of Attorney from the Internet Is Enough
While numerous websites offer free legal forms, it is not advisable to use them. The forms are often too generic and may not address your loved one’s needs or even comply with your state’s legal requirements, which may prevent you from acting on your loved one’s behalf or open the door for legal challenges.
3. Someone with Power of Attorney Can Act as He or She Sees Fit
While a power of attorney may technically give someone the power to handle a loved one’s affairs as he or she sees fit, the law holds the person to a higher standard. The agent with power of attorney has a fiduciary obligation to act in your loved one’s best interests, and the court can prohibit any action not meeting this standard. Your loved one, who is the principal, should appoint an agent with a high level of integrity and trustworthiness.
4. There Is Only One Type of Power of Attorney
A power of attorney can be as broad or as specific as your situation requires. A general power of attorney governs the entire range of actions covered by powers of attorney. A limited power of attorney is limited to specific powers or transactions.
5. Durable Powers of Attorney Extend Beyond Death
Every power of attorney ends with the death of the principal. Durable means the power of attorney survives if a loved one becomes mentally incapacitated. However, a regular power of attorney becomes invalid in the event of mental incapacity.
Being aware of these myths about power of attorney can help you understand your responsibilities and also identify misuse of power. For more information about power of attorney and other legal matters that can affect your loved one, turn to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of live-in and hourly home care, and our trained caregivers also provide comprehensive Alzheimer’s, stroke, and dementia home care Oakville, ON, families can trust. Call (905) 337-1200 to speak with a Care Manager and set up a free in-home consultation.