Naming a Power of Attorney: An Important Part of End-of-Life Planning

Naming a Power of Attorney: An Important Part of End-of-Life Planning

This was the year that old age caught up with my 94-year old mother and 89-year old stepfather. I visited in January, and while they were still able to live independently, we knew the move to assisted or nursing care was imminent.

Proximity drove our Power of Attorney selection

We are four children living in different parts of the country, but my brother and sister-in-law lived just a 15-minute drive from my folks. We knew we needed to identify a Power of Attorney so one of us could manage their financial affairs if/when they became unable to do this themselves. My brother, because of his proximity, became our family’s choice for Power of Attorney. He was also recently retired, and we knew this would ultimately require a significant time commitment.

Power of Attorney as financial manager

In the spring, my stepfather suffered a stroke; my mother was too frail to care for him, so the move to assisted care came sooner than we had anticipated. My brother, as the Power of Attorney, was responsible for all of the financial efforts involving the move and the final six months of my parents’ lives. He paid their bills, moved all of their investments into their trust and dealt with insurance and legal matters. He spent endless hours on the phone with Social Security and Medicare; because a large part of healthcare these days is about insurance, my brother’s role as Power of Attorney allowed him to interface on my parents’ behalf.

My parents died this year within three months of each other, and my brother also became the unofficial spokesperson for our little family. It was he whom the nursing home called whenever there was a change in my parents’ conditions—which was often—and it’s not over yet. My brother, having acted under each Power of Attorney, will be dealing with my stepfather’s cremation, taxes, CPAs, my parents’ attorney and distributing our little inheritance. My brother has done an extraordinary job in this role whose frustrations and demands have been varied and endless, and we are all very grateful.

Power of Attorney an important part of end of life planning

As parents age, it’s important that they plan for the time when they will need someone to help them manage their lives. Naming a family member to be a Power of Attorney is an important part of end-of-life planning. 

Ask California Document Preparers about identifying a Power of Attorney for Financial Matters for your family.