Should I ask for power of attorney over my father and his caregiver?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 21, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Pop's caregiver seems to be developing mild dementia herself. I try to help with Dr. appointments, etc...but my mother-in-law still trys to take care of Pop herself. Myself and my three grown sons are the only family they have left.(Both of their sons are deceased.) Should I ask her to name me power of attorney for them, now? I don't want her to think I'm trying to take over, but I do need to be able to help when the time comes.

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.

Keep in mind that a person must finalize and sign a power of attorney that appoints another to act for him or her. So both your dad and your mother-in-law, his caregiver, would need to be mentally sound to make documents for themselves.

This is not a very high legal standard to meet. It requires that a person understands what the document is and what it means. But that may weigh into your situation.

You are to be applauded for realizing that planning now could help avoid future complications. It certainly is worth an open conversation with both your father and mother-in-law. You seem very sensitive about the issue of not wanting to steamroll them, or have them fear that you are butting into their lives unnecessarily, so that emotion will surely come through.

You might also consider arranging a meeting with your father, mother-in-law, you and a financial planner or elder law attorney, who could explain most objectively what documents may be wise to finalize"”and how they could help. Or if they are able, urge them to attend a local financial planning seminar with you; senior centers and other local groups frequently hold them. This could help insulate you from the issue of appearing pushy.