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Re: Do you have questions about Power of Attorney? Expert answers questions.

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Message 1 of 16

Greetings,

 

A California worker comp judge appointed me Guardian ad Litem and Trustee to my aunt who is incapacited due to severe dementia. Will these documents allow me to file taxes for my aunt?

 

Or do I need a POA or Conservatorship?

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Re: Do you have questions about Power of Attorney? Expert answers questions.

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Message 2 of 16

Hello @lp6064 :  I am going to attach a link that will bring you to the Guide to Legal Issues for Pennsylvania Seniors.  It is published by the PA Bar and may be helpful for you on a variety of topics, including powers of attorney.  Please note that it was published in 2016-2017, so some information may be outdated (so, for example, if it talks about estate tax, those limits change every year and that information will be outdated).  Here is the link:  http://www.pabar.org/pdf/guidelegalservicessc.pdf

 

To folks in other states reading this, you may wish to look at your state's bar association's website to see if it publishes similar helpful information for consumers.  Also, contacting the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys may be useful in your search for information.

 

Take care, and thank you for your post! 

Amanda Singleton
All posts are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The posting and viewing of the information in this community should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or tax advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. The information presented may not reflect the most current legal developments. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues. Nothing written in this community is intended to create an attorney‑client relationship. An attorney-client relationship may only be established through direct attorney‑to‑client communication that is confirmed by the execution of an engagement agreement.
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Re: Do you have questions about Power of Attorney? Expert answers questions.

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Message 3 of 16

Hi @GailL1 , and thank you for your post!  Without delving too much into the arena of public benefits, which are worthy of their own discussion:   A power of attorney may grant the agent/attorney-in-fact the authority to act on another's behalf when it comes to benefits from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or other governmental programs or military service.  This can include preparing, signing, and filing claims, suing for, settling, or abandoning claims, and collecting, receiving, and depositing benefits, and exercising any powers that a person could exercise if they were not under a disability or otherwise unable to.    I would recommend that you look for these kinds of powers to be granted in a durable power of attorney, because they can assist the agent/attorney-in-fact greatly in their caregiving duties.  

 

 

 

Amanda Singleton
All posts are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The posting and viewing of the information in this community should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or tax advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. The information presented may not reflect the most current legal developments. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues. Nothing written in this community is intended to create an attorney‑client relationship. An attorney-client relationship may only be established through direct attorney‑to‑client communication that is confirmed by the execution of an engagement agreement.
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Re: Do you have questions about Power of Attorney? Expert answers questions.

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Message 4 of 16

Hi @valleystreamgirl and thanks for your post.   I would definitely encourage you to post in the Caregiving Forum about how we communicate with a care partner who may be resistent to conversation about the future.  I think you'll find lots of great advice there, both from experts and caregivers in the trenches.  You're in good company!  

 

Look in this thread for my post to Michael earlier today where we started talking about the different kinds of powers of attorney.   If you can open the conversation with your father (perhaps with him and his wife, an attorney, or trusted friend or advisor) maybe talk about the different kinds.  Talk about the alternatives to power of attorney (for example, if something catastrophic happened, would you need to petition to a court for guardianship?  That can be expensive.  If it is contested, it can be very expensive).  Sometimes, a conversation about what can happen if we don't plan can be enough to prompt a person to action.     

 

Although not complete by any means, there are ways that your father can make it easier for you to help him with his finances (for example, if you had a joint account set up to pay his bills).  There are drawbacks to this though where either of you could do whatever you wanted with that joint account and there is no oversight to it.  And that would only help you if circumstances don't change and he doesn't need any more help.  And the one thing we can be certain of, is that circumstances always change.  

 

My hope is that you can get to a place where you have a discussion about the future and what your father's wishes are.  Not planning is as much of a choice as planning, but with absolutely zero control over the outcome.  

 

 

Amanda Singleton
All posts are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The posting and viewing of the information in this community should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or tax advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. The information presented may not reflect the most current legal developments. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues. Nothing written in this community is intended to create an attorney‑client relationship. An attorney-client relationship may only be established through direct attorney‑to‑client communication that is confirmed by the execution of an engagement agreement.
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Message 5 of 16

Thank you @TabathaA458229 .  Remember that just because a person has been diagnosed with dementia, it does not necessarily mean that they don't have the legal ability to complete a document like a power of attorney.  The attorney you work with should be able to work with your loved one to discern whether they are capable of completing documents.  Doctors can write letters on their patients' behalf as well if competence is an issue.  Outside of this series, I post in the Caregiving Forum regularly, so please do come back to update us on your progress.  Wishing you the very best.

Amanda Singleton
All posts are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The posting and viewing of the information in this community should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or tax advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. The information presented may not reflect the most current legal developments. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues. Nothing written in this community is intended to create an attorney‑client relationship. An attorney-client relationship may only be established through direct attorney‑to‑client communication that is confirmed by the execution of an engagement agreement.
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Re: Do you have questions about Power of Attorney? Expert answers questions.

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Message 6 of 16

Hi @MichaelR56369 and thanks so much for your post!  First, I'm not able to give you specific legal advice for a variety of reasons, but we can have a general conversation about powers of attorney and guardianships (sometimes called conservatorships or committees).  If you've seen my other posts, you'll note that we always talk about how every state has its own set of rules and regulations.  This means that guardianships in Florida (where I live) can function very differently than guardianships in your state.  So, to your point: I'd be curious what kind of guardianship you have for your niece (for example, here in Florida, the guardian can be appointed over a person (health care and the like) or over a person's property (assets and financial affairs) or both), the circumstances when someone asked if you had power of attorney, and whether your niece had or has what's called "legal capacity" to make a power of attorney.

 

Let's also talk about different types of powers of attorney, for everyone reading this post.  You will hear different terms for similar documents, depending on the place you live.   Some people think of a power of attorney only in relation to health care (or will call it a health care power of attorney).  There are many places online you can read about these.  For example:

  • See this American Bar Association Simple Guide for "Bare-bones" Health Care Powers of Attorney (which is designed to meet the requirements of most every state and includes a form that is available in English and Spanish)
  • See also this AARP State-by-State Guide for Advance Directives.

We will talk more in-depth about health care advance directives in future weeks.  

 

The other type of power of attorney we are discussing is a power of attorney that names a person (often called your agent) who can handle your business, legal, or financial affairs.  These can be very limited and used for a certain task like selling a home or very broad and made "durable," which means the document can still be used by your agent if you are somehow incapacitated or incompetent in the future.  In many places, a well-crafted durable power of attorney can be very useful in avoiding a potential guardianship because it possibly could grant all the authority to the agent that a guardian would be appointed to have.  Also, on occasion, you see health care powers wrapped in with a full durable power of attorney.   It simply depends on where you live and what the laws and practices are.   You will not see these forms as much online as you see the health care specific documents; they are very powerful and technical and it is so important to ensure that they meet the laws of your state.

Amanda Singleton
All posts are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The posting and viewing of the information in this community should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or tax advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. The information presented may not reflect the most current legal developments. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues. Nothing written in this community is intended to create an attorney‑client relationship. An attorney-client relationship may only be established through direct attorney‑to‑client communication that is confirmed by the execution of an engagement agreement.
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Re: Do you have questions about Power of Attorney? Expert answers questions.

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Message 7 of 16

Thanks for your response.  We're in Pennsylvania, how would I find out what is required here?

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Re: Do you have questions about Power of Attorney? Expert answers questions.

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Message 8 of 16

@AmandaSingleton 

 

When discussing POA - healthcare or financial - it might also be worth mentioning that Social Security and Medicare actually don't use this type of document in authority granting - other forms have to be submitted or authorized by the beneficiary.

 

For MEDICARE - Authorized Representative assignment - the easiest way is for the beneficiary (or by their designate) to  set up a myMedicare.gov account and fill in the information about who Medicare can discuss this account with under authority of the beneficiary (Medicare.gov - Authorized Representatives) or who can have access to this account.

 

Or have the beneficiary (if cognitive) or authorized designate complete this form

Medicare.gov - Medicare Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information

 

For Social Security - Representative Payee Assignment - Social Security's Representative Payment Program provides benefit payment management for the beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. For a beneficiary who are incapable of managing their own benefit, SS will either assign one (usually an organizational group that does this for many).   Or the beneficiary before becoming incapacitated or their designate with legal docs (POA / Conservatorship/Guardian ) can assign one.

 

SSA.gov - A Guide to Representative Payees

 

I believe this too can be set up via the mySocialSecurity.gov account process, I think - been a longtime since I served in this capacity.

 

Both of these are needed if legally handling the affairs of another because otherwise you are not suppose to have access and sometimes access is necessary - even for the simpliest of things.

 

* * * * * * It’s Always Something - Roseanne Rosannadanna
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Re: Do you have questions about Power of Attorney? Expert answers questions.

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Message 9 of 16

Hello,

My dad is 82 and lives with his wife. He is still fairly active but forgetful and is currently taking medication for his memory. My dad won’t talk about care for himself as he ages. I handle his doctor’s appointments and his personal bills. I think I can talk him into signing a health proxy but not a power of attorney. Are they’re different power of attorney?

Thank you,

Lisa

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Message 10 of 16

Thanks for response. I think it’s beginning dementia but not sure how bad. I will call a attorney to get further advise. I know this can be difficult as I have a friend who just went through this with his father. 

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