Can my parent give durable power of attorney for healthcare to one child, and durable power of attorney for finance to another?

5 answers | Last updated: Dec 08, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Please solve a debate in our family. I think my parents should give durable power of attorney for both healthcare and finance to one sibling, so that one person is in charge of helping to arrange for their care. My brother thinks these powers should go to different siblings. Who's right?

Expert Answers

For every family, this is a personal, individual decision. There's nothing to prevent your parents from giving durable power of attorney for healthcare and finance to two different children. There's no right or wrong answer. It depends on your family and your situation. There may be a sibling in the family with whom everyone gets along. This conciliator may be the perfect person to have durable power of attorney for both healthcare and finance for your parents.

On the other hand, a lot of times, parents want their kids to act jointly. They want this to be a family decision and they want to ensure that no one feels left out. But one sibling may be good with numbers and money, and another may have the gift of caring, and so they want to give these responsibilities to different children, based on their skills. Likewise, some parents prefer a checks-and-balances approach. In such cases, dividing the responsibilities ensures that healthcare decisions won't be made solely on the basis of financial concerns.

Some attorneys will advise that you name one child to sign off on both health and financial decisions, while others advise that you name two. There's no blanket answer, and I try to talk to each family and explain what each role entails.

Remember that whatever your parents decide, they should draw up and sign the documents in the state in which they live, not where you live. State laws vary, and this will ensure that the document meets your parents' needs. If they move to a different state, they should draw up a new durable power of attorney for both healthcare and finance.

Additionally, consider registering these documents with an electronic storage service such as Legal Directives, which provides instant access to living wills, healthcare power of attorney, HIPAA releases, organ donation forms, hospital visitation forms, burial instructions, and more. If your parents are traveling and have an accident, these forms are available to health professionals and can ensure that your parents' wishes are followed.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

I have split my durable power of attorney for finances and health care between my two children for the exact reasons mentioned above. One is good with numbers and money and the other has the gift of caring... I did this about 2-1/2 years ago, when my husband died, and I haven't regretted my decision yet.

Light heart answered...

I am presently in a situation where I have Medical POA and another sibling has financial POA. I never imagined how difficult this situation would become. While sibling is happy to have me to take Mom for doctor's visits, or pour over medicare/ insurance paperwork, they refuse to acknowledge the need to pay for any additional help or care for Mom. This sib also has an very antiquated idea of the aging process and uses it as an excuse to do nothing for Mom that costs money. It has been sad and horrifying. My suggestion would be to at least make sure if you want to use 2 people for the balance, that they are not so different in their outlooks on life and health to put you in jeopardy.

Number5 answered...

I have medical POA for my parent. The financial POA is far away, often on vacation and unavailable, and doesn't speak to me! It has become very difficult to help my parent since I don't really know what their finances are. My parent asks me to check on her accounts, wants me to help her find in-home care, get her on lists for nursing home, even wanted help with refinancing house for better interest rate, but the financial POA would NOT cooperate with the parent.
I feel this is an abuse of the POA system.....but if I try to get it changed the financial POA has a hissy fit.
It would be so good if there were some annual review required of these POA's, because things do change over time. What seemed like a good idea 20 years ago, is not working out so well right now. Plus the parent (who still is very much in their right mind) feels like she would be insulting the financial POA if a change was made. I truly pray for a positive outcome, but not sure if things will improve. There should be a more transparent way to handle these POA issues, without having to resort to expensive attorneys or going to probate court. The elderly (who still have their right mind) should be able to make their desires and changes effective, without all this rangling and back-stabbing.

A fellow caregiver answered...

any all siblings who did the durable POA take the parent back to social security office and have the parent change the funds to come in the name of siblings doing the care giving so they will have access to the funds and financial picture. I live in NC I hope this is helpful in all states.

It hard dealing people who do not want to help out with hands on responsibilities. They often look at the money and how it can benefit them instead of the person who earned the money and caring for their love one. All care givers remember you need an outlet too. I won't care how the other sibling feels as long as your love one is care for correctly and they are happy. Sometimes you have to be the bad guy when you know you are getting the short end of the stick.