Elder Care Advice: Risks of Not Being A Parent’s Financial POA
Here’s a bit of elder care advice that is important to heed.
If you have elderly parents and are their only child, an important piece of elder care advice is that it’s important to discuss your taking on the role of Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA).
To illustrate how things could take a tragic turn if you don’t become your parent’s POA, you might want to watch the 2020 movie, “I Care A Lot” (it’s on Netflix). In this movie, a crooked court-appointed Guardian/Conservator seeks out elderly people who live alone and have no family members living in the area. Then, she gets the court to appoint her the legal guardian over the elderly victim. Subsequently, the crook proceeds to drain the life savings of her victims after placing them in a less than desirable nursing home.
As the movie depicts, a Guardianship and Conservatorship gives a court-appointed individual control over your parents’ personal and financial affairs. Consequently, such a move can leave them open to abuse and/or financial exploitation and ruin if the wrong person is appointed.
However, what if you – their only child – do not want to take on this responsibility over your parents’ personal and financial affairs? In such a case, it would be a good idea to work together with your parent(s) to find and assign both a financial and healthcare POA. This should be a dependable person in the event your parents are no longer in a condition to make important decisions for themselves. It’s important to assign someone both you, and your parent(s) trust. It could be a good friend, an attorney, or another relative.
There Is A Risk When A Court-Appointed Individual Is Given Power Over Your Parent(s)’ Estate(s)
If your parents’ personal and financial affairs were to be handled by someone assigned by the court as a Guardian/Conservator, this individual can sign contracts and negotiate obligations on their behalf of your parents without themselves being held personally liable. That means the Guardian/Conservator could buy property and make other major purchases making your parents estate liable. So, the risks are great if unknown and unscrupulous strangers gain control over your parents’ assets. Though the courts do have bond requirements and reporting protocols to address this risk, this happens more often than you can imagine. The important thing is not to let it happen to your loved ones.
The best way to avoid the risks of having a stranger assigned by the court as a Guardian or Conservator is for your parents to appoint a trusted agent under a financial and healthcare POA and then confirm their wishes via a conversation while they are healthy and of sound mind. Ensure that your parent(s) discuss topics with their POA agent(s) such as how they would like to be cared for and who they would want to entrust with their finances and healthcare should something happen, and they were unable to tend to their needs.
Avoid All Risks By Assigning POAs Before They Are Needed
Even if you never have to make use of a POA, you will eventually need to have someone assigned to be the executor of your estate once you pass. Being prepared and having people lined up to be POAs will help you and/or your loved ones from the risks of being abused or financially exploited. Having a conversation with an experienced and reputable attorney is also a good first step to arm yourself with the best and most appropriate information for your specific situation. We’ve are experienced in helping clients establish healthcare and financial POAs with their adult children and other relatives as well as trusted professionals. If you and/or your parents would like to discuss assigning someone as their healthcare and/or financial POA in more detail, give my office a call at 404-370-0696.