Two primary rules apply to all powers of attorney, also called POAs. First, an agent under a power of attorney can only do what the POA explicitly allows the agent to do. Second, an agent under a power of attorney must always do what the principal wants as long as the agent is aware of the principal’s wishes.
It’s difficult to watch parents lose their mental strength. Often, the loss of capacity to make decisions happens over time rather than overnight. Many parents will have good days and bad days.
A good day is an opportunity to have a loved one sign powers of attorney if that paperwork isn’t already in place.
Advance preparation doesn’t always happen as it should, and sometimes a medical crisis can leave you feeling helpless and underprepared. Fortunately, what you are likely to need from an attorney in a medical emergency is often pretty straightforward.
First, be sure to execute two powers of attorney. This will allow someone to sign documents and make decisions for you. One power of attorney should address financial decisions while the other power of attorney should address healthcare decisions. You can also sign a living will if you’d like, but a good healthcare power of attorney should allow your agent to sign a DNR for you.
For some, power of attorney can be confusing. The people normally named in powers of attorney are often not even lawyers. In powers of attorneys, there is a principal who grants to someone else the ability to act on his or her behalf. There is also an agent in each power of attorney, and the agent is the “attorney in fact” who acts on behalf of the principal.