What happens if there’s no Power of Attorney? If your senior doesn’t have any durable POAs and something happens to them, you may have to go to court to get the authority to handle their financial matters and make medical decisions on their behalf. During a health emergency, there won’t be time to do this.
Generally, if a person has not assigned an agent to act on their behalf, control of financial management reverts to the state. Probate courts will usually appoint a guardian or conservator to oversee the management of a person’s estate if there is no legally appointed agent acting on their behalf.
Legally, some states (28 of them) have Filial Responsibility Laws on the books requiring adult children to financially care for aging parents. Morally, many adult children feel obligated to care for their parents as they age but family dynamics and psychological issues may impede that moral compass.
It’s vital to set up durable power of attorney for an elderly parent who has dementia before they experience significant cognitive decline, since it can be complicated to execute legal documents once a senior is deemed mentally incapacitated.
If your parent is already mentally incapacitated but hasn’t granted Power of Attorney to you in a Living Will, you’ll need to go before a judge to obtain conservatorship (or an adult guardianship). A conservatorship will grant you the right to make medical and financial decisions on your parent’s behalf.
If you have not given someone authority to make decisions under a power of attorney, then decisions about your health, care and living arrangements will be made by your care professional, the doctor or social worker who is in charge of your treatment or care.
One way to plan ahead is to make a health care directive, or name someone to make these decisions on your behalf. If no person is named, your doctors must seek someone authorized by law to make these decisions for you. This person is called a “surrogate.”
You will rely on Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a program for low-income seniors, and/or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). You may have to find a roommate to sharing housing costs and utilities. Otherwise, you might move into a mobile home, or simply rent a room in a house.
When you can no longer care for elderly parents, a home care company can help. Professional caregivers can relieve the stress of family caregiving and begin supporting aging parents at home. Elder care management considers your loved one’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
In the U.S., requiring that children care for their elderly parents is a state by state issue. Other states don’t require an obligation from the children of older adults. Currently, 27 states have filial responsibility laws. However, in Wisconsin, children are not legally liable for their elderly parents’ care.
Five legal documents that help you protect your health, welfare, financial and legal interests.
Elderly guardianship, also known as elderly conservatorship, is a legal relationship created when a court appoints an individual to care for an elderly person who is no longer able to care for himself or herself. The appointed guardian has certain duties and responsibilities to the elderly person.
The LPA forms need to be signed by someone, apart from your chosen attorney, to state that you have the mental capacity to make an LPA. The forms also need to be witnessed. You then need to register each LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian. Either you or your attorney can do this.
Do I need a lawyer to prepare a Power of Attorney? There is no legal requirement that a Power of Attorney be prepared or reviewed by a lawyer. However, if you are going to give important powers to an agent, it is wise to get individual legal advice before signing a complicated form.
AgeLab outlines very well the four types of power of attorney, each with its unique purpose:
The Principal can override a power of attorney as long as they are still of sound mind and body. The Principal can change their mind and revoke a power of attorney for any reason. If they decide they want to appoint another person as power of attorney, they can do that. Or they can revoke and cancel it altogether.