How do I find someone to be my power of attorney?

14 answers | Last updated: Nov 09, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I'm 57 year old female, alone, with numerous pretty stable underlying illnesses that pop up three or four times a year and require extended hospitalizations. Everyone wants me to go into an assisted living facility to handle my meds and daily assessments. The thing is, I don't want to do this as yet. I get some at-home care services which help. My family has all but walked away from me so as not to get involved. I can't even get one of them to agree to be a designee on the Directive. I really don't want a hospital doctor or stranger to make critical life or death decisions about me. Any suggestions would be grateful.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

While it must feel a bit lonely to be in your position, the truth is that you are far from alone: There are many people who can’t find a person they know and trust or who is willing or able or well-suited to act as a medical agent and make decisions on final medical care for them.

Don’t let that stop you from completing the rest of the medical directive—the part that used to be called a living will in many states and still goes by that name in a few. In fact, it is probably more important than ever for you to set out your own wishes for your medical care, as clearly and in as much detail as possible. If you need help with this, consult with the doctor you know and trust the most—or ask a patient representative at a local hospital for some pointers.

Even if you don’t name a person to act as a medical proxy for you, putting your wishes in writing and getting them witnessed and in your file is still a very powerful step. If need be, an attending physician must honor those wishes—or find another doctor who will abide by them.

Community Answers

Bestfr1303 answered...

I am in the same boat that you are. My brother (the only family that I have) has turned his back on me, he is afraid that I might ask him for help. So I made my neigbhor who I trust with my life my power of attorney.

Nootkabear answered...

Having cared for one ourselves, we found out the hard way the hazards that can be thrust upon one. I tell people now to be careful, extremely careful due to the corruption within the County systems, and Dept. of Family and Children Services (DFCS). It can cost the caregiver everything they have, the family's inheritance (should the be any to become available), and possibly time in jail.

What happened to us, our aunt lived four houses away from our own. I was the caregiver, the nephew is 100% disabled and I am also his caregiver, he is my life-partner. We promised her that she could stay in her home as long as feasibly possible. I had been cooking all of her food for several years already. Besides, both James and I had grown up with elderly family members live at home until they passed away, so it wasn't anything that had to have a lot of thought behind it.

The problems arose due to an outside party thinking the aunt money, they wanted it. The aunt, 89 years old had suffered from a mild stroke and was going to therapy three days a week. She wanted to see no one until she better.

A person she had worked with, and stayed in contact with after retiring, became very pushy after hearing about the stroke. She insisted she wanted to visit, the aunt said no. It became a nightmare. In order for the lady to get back at the nephew, and ensure that she could get her hands on some money, the lady made a fictional claim made to DFCS that the aunt had fallen, was being kept against her will, etc.

The aunt, in the early stages of parkinson's or alzheimer's, was having memory problems, we found that she had been drinking rather heavily, which also caused some problems. The aunt got upset with me when I poured all the alcohol out. At 89, and having had a mild stroke, extreme osteoporosis, and legally blind, it would have been negligent to have allowed her to keep drinking.

Things blew up. With the mind of a child, the aunt believed that if she complained to her friend, her friend would take her to her house for a few days, James and I would be sorry, she would return to her home, and all would be right again. That did not happen.

DFCS had been friends with the County head Probate clerk for 18 years, they had a scheme that they worked. We are not the only victims this happened to. They have a mock hearing, appoint a county administrator as Emergency Guardian for a Gravely Incapacitated Adult, and they rob the elderly person or everything they have claiming it was going for her care.

A major problem with this particular instance, the aunt did not have money. It was a fabricated story she liked to tell people. I guess that they had gone in too far, they took the nephew and my assets with the help of several Wachovia employees.

The story goes on and on and on. No, we never recovered the $450,000 taken from us. It was all in stocks and Mutual Funds. The market continued to go down hill, and in the end, we ended up with nothing.

Until such time the Probate Courts in this state become honest (which will be never unless some major laws are written and enforced), I ask my friends to promise not to take care of an elderly person. For four years, we were tied up battling in courts trying to straighten the mess out. Since we had no assets left for attorney's fees, we were forced to represent ourselves. The courts hate pro se litigants, and fighting Wachovia is impossible without an attorney. Fighting against DFCS, County anything, Probate Court and it's clerks, forget it they have immunity.

Now, we can barely make a house and insurance payment. And why? Because a loving little old lady that we cared for too much.

By the way in the guardianship hearing, she admitted that she got three hot meals a day and everything she asked for, "even the Football package on Directv".

The nephew had been assigned her Power of Attorney through an irrevocable Durable Power of Attorney with an Interest four years before this incident began. There was a Will on file at the county for 11 years, but a new Will was accepted without a hearing.

Champion2211 answered...

There is a lot of this going on around the country. People or family taking advantage of elderly relatives and care givers also. I as well as my brother lost over $200,000 to a greedy sister that took her sister into her house long enough to convince her to transfere money from an account that was from my dad to her general account of which is where she could get her hands on it and then put her back into the assisted living apt. she had before. When her sister died my brother and myself recieved the original amount that started the account and for 30+ years in that account the interest was transfered. When we went to the funeral her sister accepted us with open arms and of course she would, she just took all our money. The lord will take care of her and will not let her through the pearly gates and show her the stairs down. There is just way too many people like that and they will find out it was wrong. I am sorry for your loss and God Bless you all.

Tea mcalpin answered...

And there lies the problem Nootkabear. You made a decision you had no right to make. While drinking at any age is a bad idea, you do not take another's right to do so away. As well meaning as you might have meant to be, you were dead wrong to take away anything from her that brings her comfort. I smoke. I have COPD, but I still work everyday and plan on being around for another 10 years. I will decide when to give up my cigarettes. Not my family, not my hudband and not some dweeb who thinks he is doing me a favor. When my disease progresses to a point of pain and I feel a couple of shots will comfort me, anyone, and I mean anyone, who feels they can physically take it away, better be big enough to get the backlash that comes with it. This is a huge problem with people who use "well intentioned" to mean I am in control and you are my controlee. Sounds like you have a double dose of it. Glad your not my nephew's life partner (which by the way makes you nothing related no matter how hard you try). While you sound like very much the victim here.....Probate and all....That happens in this state too. When the state is called to do the job it costs. And like all other care agencies, they get thiers up front and first. Depending on how long they predict her to live, tht's the cost. For what ever reasons you and disabled nephew lost all those stocks and bonds...they might have not rightly belong to you to begin is often the case. One lefted hand decision, to take away her comfort, when you probably promised you never would, cost you. Seen it happen 100 times. someone had a problem with your methods or DFACS would never have gotten involved.

Pamsc answered...

I had a friend who was in this situation, and her clergy person agreed to be her medical power of attorney.

Nootkabear answered...

To Tea McAlpin.

So... You are telling me to take a 90 year old lady who is on blood thinners, has high blood pressure, has suffered a mild stroke, whose bones are crushing under their own weight, cannot walk straight on a good day, and who is suffers extreme osteoporosis and I should have let her drink all she wanted? You are irresponsible as hell! Aunt Jean lived alone, 4 houses from ours, we could see her house. But... you are saying that at 90 with all her ailments, all the risks of living in a split-foyer home (yes, stairs!) and let her do as she pleases when it comes to drinking. She

Aunt Jean had one of those Companions for Life (press the button for help) and I could be at her house from a dead slepp in under 3 minutes. That is what she wanted. And... we didn't insist that she not drink until she had the stroke. She refused to go into a home, and we did the best we could... but I could not risk going down there, finding that she had fallen with her bones so brittle the doctor said she would break like pieces of glass if she fell. A few years earlier, she had already fallen and broken her hip.

So, before you get so critical of me....

Nootkabear answered...

-----------------------------------------------------------------------Tea McAlpin,

Just one more thought... As crabby as you are, I would imagine that they will be giving you all the things that will help to end your misery much sooner, I know I would.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Tea McAlpin,

Where do you come off "judging" nootkabear's actions? I, for one, would be extremely gratefull to have someone helping me. Caretakers cost a LOT of money. I also believe that family members, who do not come around to help when I am sick, might not honor my requests.

To return to the "original" question-I am 60 and live alone, and am on disability and I, too, have had a difficult time trying to get a POA for both healthcare and financial. I have not decided for the financial part, yet. I named 3 people for the healthcare--so that I would have something "in writing" should I become incapacitated. Asking someone to take on these positions is a daunting responsibility for that person. I do believe that he/she must truly know YOUR wishes. I, too, am alone. It is not only very "isolating" but it's difficult for me to make ssome of these decisions when I am not feeling well. I empathize with "anonymous", and feel I am in the same boat. I appreciate the answers given by the other posts.

I am looking for answers also. My prayers are with you-

Tea mcalpin answered...

My appologies to you all. I had no right to judge anyone this harshly. You are correct it does take a boat load of money and patience and a mound of other things to care for someone who is ill and aging. I wish you all well in your endevors.

Tea mcalpin answered...

To anonymous, I do feel for you and your problem, but..this is the problem we are faced with today. Money, health, and trust are words that just don't go together anymore concerning many people entrusted to care for us in old age if greed is also a factor. As far as being crabby, yes I may very well be crabby but I have reason too. I deal with Nootkabear's all the time. "I deserve this because I did this for you and you owe me." It is like an investment to them and I for one am sick of it. Why should a lady, 90 years old, who would like a cocktail or two and probably has had for years be made to stop? Because she had a stroke? No..she could tell a friend she was unhappy so it rules that out. Most physicians will not tell a person 90 y/o to stop drinking due to the problems associated with withdrawl! She could and did speak for herself and now the "inheritance" is gone? Everything is someone elses fault? This is why it is so hard to find a medical/financial POA who will do as you state. I for one will make my own arrangements as far as I can for as long as I can so someone like Nootkabear cannot come along and put me out of his misery. And since that is out wonder why people are releived of caring by the courts? Please make sure your wishes are known and your POA agrees to enforce them. The person above stated her clergy was her POA. Maybe you can find something with that advice. Again I am sorry for offending anyone. You can butter bread any way you want, but that slice is upside down.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Tea Alpin-

This is anonymous. Thank you for your response. I agree with you about "greed". I think we live in different times. You are "entitled" to your choices---whatever those choices may be. The difficulty, as I feel it, is finding someone when I will no longer be able to "tell anyone" what I want. It is sad when I hear of so many people -family included-that just want your money, etc. I am from the "old school" where you were taught not to steal, lie, or cheat. I wish you, and the others here, well and that answers can be found, so that no sick person is taken advantage of. I watch who treats me well, even though I am sick, because I believe those are the people I can "trust". I, also, want "my wishes" carried out---I have discussed this with my doctor, who has a copy of my directives in his medical record, and named Three people--in descending order-as POA's, so more than one person knows.

Nootkabear answered...

I too must apologize, I usually don't get my fur up so easily... Bad time of year I guess. What I should say also is that we loved Aunt Jean very much, and even after she passed away, we have tried to do what is right by her. Someone, someday will have to stand up for what happened to her. I know the last thing we ever heard about her while she was still living, was that she was crying and telling someone that family hadn't even bothered to look for her. That is another one of the lies they told her to control her. We called every "home" in GA, even the ones that are private, inside of another's home. Couldn't find her. We had our attorney inquire, the people that had her said no, they wouldn't give up her location.

She was cremated and buried before we found out she had passed away. No family from GA to Wisconsin was told she had passed. They buried her in a place she swore she didn't want to be laid to rest, she was supposed to go back to Wisconsin to be sprinkled in the Wolf River where her other family members were laid to rest.

We still love her very much!

A fellow caregiver answered...

I would find the name and phone number of the bank manager and insist he recognize the problem. "If" he did not help you, ask for the owner of the bank and his phone number.