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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

POA's - How Much Power Do You Really Have?

When it comes time to move your loved one into a memory care home, a POA (or Power of Attorney) is appointed. For some, this can feel like you have all of the power over the decisions made for your loved one, and for some, they really just don't know what all comes with being a POA. The powers of an appointed person can be broad or narrow, depending on how the POA document is written.

There are many different kinds of POA's and it is important to understand YOUR role to be as supportive as possible. According to Aging Care, "A medical POA (also known as health care POA) gives a trustworthy friend or family member (the agent) the ability to make decisions about the care the principal receives if they are incapacitated. A financial POA gives an agent the ability to make financial decisions on behalf of the principal. It is common to appoint one person to act as an agent for both financial and healthcare decisions, but in some cases it may be wise to separate the two."

What a Healthcare POA CAN Decide:

• Which doctors and care providers that the loved one uses

• Where their loved one will live in terms of residential long-term care. However, the healthcare POA must be able to afford the living. arrangements as well as the financial POA's approval.

• What kind of medical care that their loved one receives, including their surgery, psychiatric visits, hospital care, etc.

• What kind of diet the loved one has

• Who bathes and washes the loved one

What a Financial POA CAN Decide:

• File taxes on the loved one's behalf

• Collect the loved one's debt

• Access financial accounts to pay for expenses

• Manage the loved one's properties

• Apply for benefits (Medicaid, veteran's benefits)


• Change anything in the loved one's will

• Break their duty to act in the loved one's best interest

• Make decisions for the loved one after their passing (POA is broken after death)

• Change the POA to someone else, only the loved one can do that

Keep in mind that if your loved one has the capacity to make their own decisions, then it is important that you recognize the fact that your loved one still has the final say. Most long-term care homes will honor the request of your loved one unless unfit. POA's are also fully revocable by your loved one. If they deem you incapable of doing the job, they can take it away.

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