“What we have here is failure to communicate” Mr. (Cool Hand) Luke growled at the Captain. Cool Hand just would not cooperate and follow the rules. This is exactly what I continue to run into with many families that have begun to manage the care of a loved one. The caregiver is advised by someone to get a power of attorney in place. They get thrifty and download forms from the internet. This despite my earlier blogs and videos on this point. Invariably the contents of the internet document do not properly cover the elder care management issues that exist. Even worse, the form document is void because it is not executed properly.
So here is a refresher on how to obtain an effective and enforceable power of attorney if you are managing the care of someone. The fact that you are managing the care of a person dictates that you involve an Elder Law attorney. Powers of attorney are not interchangeable documents. Where you get the document, and what it says, are important. The document should authorize you to set up an irrevocable trust and to gift assets into it to protect the disabled person’s assets. You should have authority to apply for and manage government benefits.
Generally, a power of attorney requires the principal, the agent, and at least one disinterested witness to sign the document in front of a Notary. Each state may have additional legal requirements that effect the validity of the document. This fact, in and of itself, makes going it alone with an internet form document a “fools errand”.