Thursday, June 14, 2012

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

When providing home care to an elderly loved one, it is important that legal issues are taken care of to ensure that the best possible care can be given. For many seniors, this involves granting durable power of attorney to a trusted friend or family member. While power of attorney is a common legal matter, it is something that many elderly individuals and their caregivers are unsure of.

Melissa and her grandmother, Doris, live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Melissa has been taking care of Doris for five years, and in that time has come to understand her grandmother's needs and wishes concerning her health. Doris has experienced a series of strokes over the last year and decided that it was time to grant durable power of attorney to Melissa. The two visited Doris' lawyer to learn more about the process and fill out the required paperwork.
As Doris' lawyer explained, durable power of attorney grants individuals the right to act on behalf of someone else. If this power is legally recognized, then the agent, or the person who has been granted this power, is able to make decisions that are seen as legitimate in the eyes of the law. Here are some facts about power of attorney that Melissa and Doris found helpful when they were navigating the legal process.

  • Durable power of attorney is also called power of attorney, POA, and letter of attorney, although there is one major difference between durable power of attorney and the other forms of this appointment (see below).  
  • Power of attorney allows one individual to legally act on behalf of another.
  • The elderly individual granting power of attorney is called the grantor, donor, or principal.
  • The individual receiving power of attorney is called the attorney, agent, or donee. In some cases, they may also be referred to as the attorney-in-fact.
  • The grantor must be deemed in sound mental condition when appointing power of attorney.
  • Durable power of attorney is granted when the document states that the appointment is to continue should the grantor lose mental capacity.  
Melissa is much more confident in her home care abilities now that she knows Doris trusts her to make decisions.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for your article, todd.

    i just got my advance care directive done to save my family from the stress of figuring out my last wishes. for those of you unfamiliar, an advance care directive (or healthcare or medical directive) covers both living will & power of attorney. i really urge you to get yours done. here is a free site with legal documents for all 50 states.

    good luck and god bless all!