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Easing the Elderly’s Everyday Needs

The primary need this article addresses is the elderly’s ability to access their funds. Perhaps you are a member of the “sandwich generation” or just helping out an older parent or friend. Many times older clients have a helpmate who writes out their checks and then they simply sign them. However, if even writing checks can be too difficult, the helpmate may need more authority in order to help.

One way to be more to be able to help more is to have a Durable Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney allows a person (called a principal) to nominate an agent to handle all current financial and business affairs. The agent has the responsibility to carry out her duties with care and consideration of the best interests of the principal.

Powers of Attorney are not simple any more and should be executed with care and proper legal advice. The “Durable” portion of the Power of Attorney allows the power of attorney to continue to be effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated. The agent's power continues until the durable power of attorney is revoked or the person creating dies.

Another way to assist an elderly person with their finances is to be a joint signer on bank and investment accounts. Being a joint signer gives the authority to sign checks and investment orders on behalf of the principal. This should not be confused with being a joint tenant.

A joint tenant on an account usually means that the tenants have right of survivorship. That is, upon the death of one, the surviving tenant gets everything in the account.

Joint tenant accounts can be a problem because each of the joint tenants owns the account and each can take out all of the money. Also, the creditors of each joint tenant can reach the money.

To avoid these risks, it can be better to use of the durable power of attorney and a pay on death designation. The agent under power of attorney can use the funds for the elder person during his or her life. The pay on death designation allows the account to pass to one or more persons without probate court intervention.

While paying bills and handling accounts is important. An older person might also need assistance with Arizona Long Term Care Services, Social Security, accessing retirement accounts or arranging for in home services. A co-signer or joint tenant on an account cannot be of assistance with these tasks. The agent under a Durable Power of Attorney can do these things and the principal can get the needed services and finances.