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

The Wrong Kind of Busy: Conquering Social Media and Family Distractions

A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part
— Anonymous

Wrong Kind of Busy BlogFamily and social media: we love them but…they can easily suck our time away.  For several years, my day would begin by checking my inbox and social media feeds before my 10am business day began. What was intended as engagement with my online community unknowingly merged into online and offline play time. I justified my behavior by eating breakfast, chatting with family members, or snuggling with my kitties, labeling my actions as effective multi-tasking. It didn’t take long to realize (and deny) I was using prime business-building time to putz.

Not pleased with my discoveries, I sought out a solution. After some hard introspection
and consulting with my virtual assistant and social media expert, I’m actively
diminishing my online distract-ability habits. Here are 2 simple exercises to help you
limit the wrong kind of busy:

Identify your habits: which is your greatest weakness? Email? Facebook? Twitter? Pay
attention to your habits and the time engaged with each. How much is dedicated to
business? How much can you honestly count as non-business?

Limit your online time: from the discoveries above, set a specific time every day to
check email and social media feeds. Make your business activity the priority. Can you
accomplish your social media activity in under 45 minutes? Set a timer and stick to it.
OR, if you find yourself drifting toward distraction, move on to another business task.
Set your fun-time online activity for an end-of- day reward. It’s a tough pattern to break,
and doesn’t happen overnight, but will result in higher productivity in a short amount of
time.

Family is a different matter. Many of us pursued entrepreneurship for the benefit of
ourselves and our family. We chose this path to be closer physically and emotionally to
our children, but that proximity leads to high distract-ability. It requires new habits for
everyone, but the best progress starts with ourselves:

Discipline: identify your most productive times and set that as business time only! I
used to modify my work day around everyone else’s schedules and disasters but ended
up playing business catch-up more than moving forward. Avoid that trap and schedule
each day with your professional priorities.

Determine your work week: Many of us become entrepreneurs for the flexibility, so
be flexible for your business opportunities and emergencies: business projects,
outsourcing activities, technical issues, missed appointments, illness, new clients, and
more. Maintaining a schedule, flexibility within your schedule, and preparedness for the
unexpected will keep you on track for growth and for family intervention.

A lot of our busy-ness comes from the distractions we know and love most: family and
social media. It takes some practice to break an old habit in favor of another, but with
persistence, it can happen. For more insight into distractions, visit What are Your
Distraction Risk Factors?

What are your tips for managing social media and family? Comment below and share
with others who may need support and guidance.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
A grandparent in business