When To Obtain A Durable Power Of Attorney
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease will nearly triple to 13.8 million by 2050 and in a recent survey performed by Merrill Lynch, 54% of respondents said Alzheimer’s is the most frightening and disabling conditions both from an emotional as well as financial perspective.
Loss of Cognitive Function
The loss of memory can result in a diverse range of consequences for the elder, including the elder’s loved ones. Memory is more than forgetting a telephone number or the names of distant relatives. Ones declining memory can affect financial decisions such as how and under what circumstances ones hard earned money and assets should be managed and later distributed.
In the beginning, the elder’s cognitive decline can be slow, but once the disease begins to accelerate, it can quickly result in a steep decline in memory and judgment. This is why obtaining a Durable Power of Attorney (POA) at the very beginning of Alzheimer’s, while the elder still possesses a sound mind, cognition and judgment is so critically important.
Unfortunately, the potential for the elderly to become targets for fraud and elder abuse is all too common. One way to protect the elder is to obtain a Durable Power of Attorney over the elder’s finances.
Durable Power of Attorney
The POA is a powerful legal instrument because it legally confers the agent of the elder with sweeping power over the elder’s money, real estate, and investments. Before the elder can confer such power through a Durable POA, the elder must demonstrate that he or she has the mental capacity to understand the consequences of executing such a document. The legal term for this is “legal capacity”.
Unfortunately, all too often procurement of the POA can be the result of duress and fraud. This form of financial elder abuse is on the rise. Therefore, many states have required a separate showing by an independent third-party that the elder fully understand that he or she is appointing someone to act on their behalf for all financial matters. For these reasons, contacting an elder law attorney is vitally important. The attorney will explain the process and make sure the elder is financially protected.