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Why your senior parents need a power of attorney

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2022 | Estate Planning |

As your aging parents begin slowing down, they may turn to you for assistance with practical matters. However, unless they give you their power of attorney, you will likely face the time-consuming ordeal of petitioning the Pennsylvania court system for their conservatorship if they become incapacitated.

You can avoid this issue if your parents’ estate plan gives you any of these powers of attorney.


As the term implies, you can make decisions or represent your parents in specific circumstances, such as a property sale. This type of power of attorney typically expires after 90 days in Pennsylvania.


General power of attorney authorizes you to complete various transactions for your parents, including opening and closing bank and brokerage accounts, withdrawing funds, managing utilities and paying bills. However, your parent’s mental incapacity can void this arrangement.


A durable power of attorney takes effect upon its creation, continues if your parents become physically or mentally incapacitated and is valid for the remainder of their lives. It allows you to make financial and medical decisions for your parents, who must draft and sign it while mentally competent.


As medical power of attorney, you are your parents’ healthcare proxy, with authority to carry out their wishes for medical treatment and care if they cannot convey their wishes. This role obligates you to follow your parent’s directions even when they conflict with your other parent’s wishes.


A springing power of attorney goes into effect only after a medical professional formally declares your parent incapable of making sound, independent decisions. However, it is crucial to remember that waiting for such declarations can delay your ability to act in your parents’ interests.

A power of attorney can protect seniors’ rights to make decisions affecting their current and future lives.