It can be hard to know when to designate a Power of Attorney. There are many people who believe that the execution of a Power of Attorney is something that can and should wait until it is “needed.” This is a misconception.
Waiting to designate a Power of Attorney can create major roadblocks for some patients and their families. If a crisis or sudden change in mental or physical condition occurs, it may be too late to make such an important decision. Legally, a person executing a Power of Attorney must be competent and able to understand what power is being granted.
Proactive planning before a sudden hospitalization or a diagnosis of chronic or terminal illness can help to alleviate so much stress on the patient, caregiver and family.
Though it can be a difficult discussion to initiate with an elderly parent or relative, there truly is no “good” time. My suggestion has always been to emphasize the need to start this early in the planning mode. It is also key to stress the benefit of appointing the person who is trusted to listen to the wishes of the patient. Some people may even want one person as the financial Power of Attorney and someone else for health care Power of Attorney. The goal is to be in control of all decisions for as long as possible and to create a trusting relationship between everyone involved before there is an urgent need.
Helen Lynn RN,BSN
Legal assistant to Dana Breslin, Esq., CELA
Pappano & Breslin
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