Have you been caring for your elderly parents or grandparents? Are you paying their bills, taking them to the doctor, managing their prescriptions?

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If your parents still have legal capacity, you may want to take them to an attorney so they can create a power of attorney. A power of attorney gives someone the authority to manage someone else’s financial matters. Don’t wait, because if your parents lose the capacity to create legal documents, they will not be able to make a power of attorney.

Sometimes we see families when it is too late to create a power of attorney. This may be because the parents were not willing to discuss financial matters with the children, or because the kids did not realize how much care their parents required. At any rate, once your parents cannot make a power of attorney, your options are limited. You may have to file a court case for conservatorship in order to get the authority you need to manage their financial matters for them.

Powers of attorney can be immediate or springing. Immediate powers of attorney begin as soon as the document is signed. Springing powers of attorney go into effect when the person becomes incapacitated. Some people want their physician to be the one who decides they are incapacitated. Others prefer their family members decide when they can no longer manage their own financial affairs.

This year, Hawaii adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. Click here to read the full text of the law (but I warn you, it’s 75 pages long!).

Previously, banks and financial institutions in Hawaii were not required to accept powers of attorney and in fact refused them frequently. One big change in our new law is that now banks in most situations are required to accept powers of attorney. This should make it easier for caregivers to manage finances for their parents.

So caregivers, it may be time to help your parents get powers of attorney.

Note: If you are a horrible, greedy child intent on using your power of attorney to pursue your own agenda against your siblings rather than caretaking your parents, please disregard this blog post.

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