Older people living in Washington are often concerned about ensuring that they are cared for as they age. While many seniors are perfectly capable of making decisions about their finances and day-to-day lives, others suffer from cognitive symptoms and conditions, such as dementia, that can impact their ability to manage money, households and personal care.
One way that a senior can protect his or her interests is to give a trusted friend or family member powers of attorney. Depending on the nature of the powers of attorney, the person who holds it can make decisions regarding health care, where the senior lives or how his or her money is to be spent.
Not all powers of attorney are the same, however. Some are limited to specific issues, such as finances or health care. In addition, the length of time for which powers of attorney are in effect depends on a variety of factors.
Durable powers of attorney, for example, remain in effect indefinitely, even if the individual recovers from an illness or disability. Limited or special powers of attorney are given a specific end date. Powers of attorney cease when the individual who granted the powers of attorney dies. In the case of limited or special powers of attorney, the principal should make plans for notifying organizations and individuals, such as banks or doctors, when the powers of attorney expire.
Seniors and their loved ones may benefit from speaking with an experienced elder law attorney. The lawyer may be able to review the client's situation and make recommendations regarding estate planning and end-of-life care, including powers of attorney, living wills, advanced directives and other legal issues that should be resolved before the client becomes incapacitated.