One of the most worrying things about looking after elderly family members is money. It is not something that you immediately think of when you become the main carer of a loved one because you are concerned first and foremost with their health and well being, not to mention figuring out how to cope with looking after what is essentially a dependent as well as living your own life. Money does eventually prove to be a pressing issue because your elderly relative will most likely be unable to physically sort out their own affairs and finances, or mentally be unfit to do so. Either way, you will almost certainly become responsible for their money as well as their health.
In order to take care of an elderly relative’s financial affairs, you will first need to apply for and be granted power of attorney. In this day and age of fraud and security issues, privacy laws are such that no one individual can interfere in the financial affairs of another unless they have the express permission by the individual in some way, shape or form. If you do need regular access to their finances then you will need power of attorney. It is legally binding and, although it is dependent on the individual’s permission because he or she remains the legal owner of any assets, grants unlimited access to their affairs. In effect, it gives you the ability to run their finances for them.
There are essentially two types of power of attorney, ordinary and enduring. The ordinary power of attorney limits your access because it stipulates the matters that you can actually control. For example, your elderly relative may only allow you to sort out bills for them. It is also commonly used when an individual is unable to manage their affairs for a set period of time. Someone may go abroad or have to go into hospital. Whilst they are away and thus unable to attend to their financial affairs than another nominated person may do it for them. The fact that this is for a set period of time means that it will inevitably expire and thus is not a good option for elderly individuals who may permanently be unable to take care of their finances. In any case, and ordinary power of attorney will automatically be revoked if the donor (the named individual that the power of attorney relates to) becomes mentally unfit to cope with his or her financial affairs.
An enduring power of attorney, on the other hand, grants you access to every aspect of their assets. You can effectively run their finances, govern their property and do pretty much as you please with everything they own. As a result, this requires a lot of trust on the part of your relative and you must feel that you are up to the job before accepting the power of attorney. It can actually be established at any time, even if the elderly individual in question is still capable of running his or her affairs, but it does continue if mental capacity is diminished.
It is a huge responsibility to be put in charge of somebody else’s financial affairs, especially if the individual in question is also under your care. It can cause a lot of stress for you, especially when you are getting to grips with it all. You must go to a lawyer to establish the power of attorney in the first place, and so he or she may be able to advise you on where to begin. Often, family lawyers who specialize in power of attorney paperwork can recommend a counsellor or help service that could initially aid you. The main thing is not to worry too much about financial affairs because they will all soon fall into place as soon as you get into a routine. As a power of attorney can be established before an elderly relative loses all mental functionality, it may be an idea to suggest it in advance so you can already be familiar with the way things are run before it comes to becoming a carer too. Just remember to relax and let things happen as they will. As long as the paperwork is in order, everything else will follow.