As we watch our parents (or any other loved one) make that gradual shift from being totally independent to needing help, there are some steps that can be taken to facilitate family involvement. Even for those of us who have parents who are 100% capable of managing their affairs, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for an unexpected circumstance.
The most common solution for being able to manage our parent’s accounts on their behalf is to have an attorney draft a Power of Attorney (“POA”). A POA is a legal document that authorizes a person to act on another person’s behalf. We highly recommend them for everyone 18 years and over, so they can have someone act on their behalf when they are no longer able to make financial or health care decisions. It creates a fiduciary relationship between the Principal (person who created the document) and the Agent (person named to carry out the instructions). This is my non-attorney understanding of how it works.