Along with an Advance Directive document, it’s hugely important to make sure someone is named to take over financial decisions in case your father is unable to make them himself. The legal document that does this is called a Financial Power of Attorney. Without this document, if something bad happens, the courts have to step in to appoint someone to handle things like paying bills, applying for Medicare benefits, or even cashing a Social Security check.
Like an Advance Directive, you do not need a lawyer to create a Financial Power of Attorney, however we recommend getting at least some basic legal advice from a lawyer because there are several things that you have to think through carefully. These include:
- Your father may prefer to name different people to make financial decisions and healthcare decisions
- The Power of Attorney can cover all financial decisions, or only some of them like paying bills
- The Power of Attorney can take effect immediately on signing or can only become active if your father becomes very sick. Some folks prefer to pass over financial duties to a child even though they are still capable of making their own decisions
- The Power of Attorney should be “Durable” so that it continues if your father becomes very sick. Ordinary Powers of Attorney automatically stop if that happens!
But even if you are planning to use a lawyer, we recommend reading through the steps of creating one on your own so that you understand everything involved. Here are some good resources to get you started: