What to Know as POA for Multiple Family Members

family members discuss POA wishesAre you prepared medically and financially if something unfortunate happens to you and you could not make a critical decision for yourself? What about a parent, spouse, or adult child? Why wait a moment longer? Get your POA (power of attorney) in order now!

I am not an attorney, a financial advisor, a wealth advisor, or an estate planner. What I am, however, is a mother, a daughter, a partner, a sister, and a grandmother. I’m also the power of attorney (POA) for 5 family members.

I recently attended a workshop entitled, Aging in America,  in which financial and legal issues for family members and caregivers were addressed. Individuals of all ages tend to wait until an unfortunate event to begin thinking about ‘what ifs’. Furthermore, many family members ignore reality and postpone taking action, as it happened with my family. Due to the cost and time-consuming options available after the fact, it is advised we obtain, at a minimum, a financial and medical durable power of attorney now.

This seems easy enough but the challenge is to get everyone onboard. According to AARP, the following age groups lack a will or other estate planning documents:

  • 19% of those 72+
  • 42% of Boomers (ages 53 to 71)
  • 64% of Gen Xers (ages 37 to 52)
  • 78% of Millennials (ages 18 to 36)

Regardless of where you or your loved ones fit into the family tree, it is vital to initiate the conversation to spare cost, delay, and emotional stress. Use these prompts to start the conversation.

The family talk

First of all, let your family know that it’s important to establish their powers of attorney. Ask them how theyman in therapy after debilitating injury want their decisions handled should they become incapacitated. Use current events, a terminal illness, death, or this article to start the discussion. Providing free POA forms (see Where to Find Documents) can help move the process forward. Your goal isn’t to frighten them, but to ensure they are protected financially and medically. As a result, you may have more success taking this approach.

Address the facts

Because each of us must choose an agent to handle our requests, it’s important this person is:

  • Up to the task
  • Readily available
  • Willing to meet the needs of the individual
  • Trustworthy and reliable
  • Able to make decisions while dealing with their own emotions

Choosing an Agent

  • If the medical POA and financial POA are different people, ensure that they will work well together.
  • Review the POA with the family member every 3 to 5 years. Sometimes a listed agent becomes unwilling, unable, or estranged from the family member. Furthermore, a periodic review will ensure that the documents are up to date and the agent(s) wish to continue their duties.

Where to Find Documents

The documents are easy to create, but requires each individual to make their wishes known and to name their agents. Contact an estate planning attorney or search online for medical or financial POA forms within your state. There are many free and paying sites available, or you can contact a local attorney to create the forms for you.

The Agent

  • As the agent, keep the documents (preferably 2 original copies) in a safe, readily available location.
  • Additionally, if you are the agent for several people, keep all records in the same safe place. Let your principles (the people who named you as POA) know where you have their documents but also let your agents know the location.
  • Be the one to follow up every 3 to 5 years with each principal. People forget, life changes fast, and people come and go. You may wish to be removed as the agent for unknown reasons.

While we all want to live a long, healthy life, things happen. Be the proactive family member and start the process. Taking the extra measure to protect the desires of your loved ones and your own will help make the tough decisions easier.

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better

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