Follow
Share

How have others approached asking a loved one who currently is of sound mind about granting Power of Attorney? My step-father is getting ready to have surgery, and I really feel as if there needs to be a document granting POA to me or my husband.


This issue has arisen a couple of times before, and it's a little complicated as my step-father lives with my husband and me but has a biological daughter who lives seven hours away. Because of proximity and day-to-day caregiving duties, we are far more familiar with his routines, doctors, medical issues. However, that old saying "blood runs thicker than water" has certainly reared its head a time or two since my mother's death.


There is a will in place...but no POA has been designated. My step-father also assumes that his telling me in an ER that he wants a DNR will suffice if that issue comes up. I really wish he would formalize everything, but I'm not sure how to broach it without sounding morbid...or making him think I'm trying to get into his finances (even though I am on all accounts but one savings account).


Help!

Find Care & Housing
I would sit him down and explain that without a POA, you & your husband will not be able to carry out his wishes and make decisions on his behalf. Ultimately it his decision whether or not to make you his POA, he may end up wanting it to be his daughter. However, you could make the argument that it’s in his best interest to assign you POA because he lives with you & his daughter lives several hours away. It’s easiest and best for all involved if he assigns it to you. I was bit gobsmacked when my parents made my irresponsible alcoholic brother POA first with me as back and then I realized that it’s because he lives there with them and I am 6 hours away. If medical decisions have to be made, he’s in a better position to do it because he’s present and I’m not.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to worriedinCali
Report

You say “Dad, you know we love you dearly and because we do, we do not want the state to manage your affairs. When you were younger a lot of this was done just by word of mouth and doctors could honor that. There are laws now, called HIPPA laws that protect people for people using their medical information or taking advantage of them, but it is so strict that even husbands, wives, sons and daughters lose the right to know medical information or make decisions for their parents or spouses without a written document giving them permission. There are 3 documents you need to sign for us so that in case you become unable to make those decisions, it gives us the ability. One is a HIPPA permission form so the doctors can tell us about your condition and what we need to do to help take care of you. The second is a formal DNR statement, that they can keep on file. Unfortunately my word that that is what you wanted is not legally binding. The third is a power of attorney since you live with us that gives us the legal standing to be able to make decisions for your care, order home health, help you pay your bills, etc. You need to sign them now, just in case you get to a point where you can’t. It’s very important so we can provide you with top notch help at all times. Without those documents if something happened, the state would appoint a person to be in charge of all that happens to you medically, where you will live and who will control your finances.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to DILKimba
Report

Your step-father is LIVING with you and you don't have POA? Are you on his HIPAA forms?

The hospital will have him sign a time-limited form before he goes into surgery, which will give you the power to speak for his wishes about medical treatment. That's NOT POA and if something goes wrong, getting bills paid will be very difficult. Talking to his insurance company will be difficult.

There are two different issues here, one medical and one financial. He needs to get himself to an attorney and have both forms prepared.

I trust that he is paying room and board and that you have a legal agreement about that?
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Report

My husband was straightforward with his parents: "Mom and dad, my wife and I cannot take on the responsibility of moving closer to you and caregiving for you without having the authority to do so."

Be straight with your step-dad: "Step-dad, I've made an appointment with an attorney for you next week so that you can get your important paperwork in order before the surgery. This is for my peace of mind should something happen that requires someone to make medical decisions for you. Hubby and I have paid for this consultation for you. Please consider it a gift."

If he refuses or makes his biological daughter his POA, then you and your husband know where you stand. If blood being thicker than water has reared its ugly head already, it will only get worse.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
Report

Good advice from Worried, and I wonder if you could also kind of throw the hospital he'll be having the surgery at under the bus, so to speak, and mention how they will most likely be wanting to know who has authority to speak on his behalf if he is incapacitated, who has POA, etc. etc., so he might as well get that taken care of now rather than later when he would presumably rather not be worrying about a lot of paperwork before his procedure.

Might be a good way to get the conversation started.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to SnoopyLove
Report

The hospital will presumably make your father sign something prior to surgery in case things go wonky during surgery because, unfortunately, sometimes they do. If your father is of sound mind, then he can sign whatever document they put in front of him. The better thing would be to have a living will in place and filed with the hospital detailing your father's wishes. An even better thing would be to have a healthcare directive in place and filed with the hospital, which spells out your father's wishes and names someone as POA should he come out of surgery unable to make his own medical decisions.

I don't think they'll take him into surgery without a directive, either advanced or signed by him the day of surgery. Just explain to him that you're trying to get ahead of the paperwork, and you're "hoping for the best, but need to plan for the worst."
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to bluefinspirit
Report
Janus12 Jan 16, 2020
Need to plan for the “unexpected.” 🙂
(2)
Report
My mom just got POA for my dad, with the help of a lawyer. She'd told the lawyer he seemed unwilling to talk about it, not to mention sign it. The lawyer suggested that she have one done for herself, with me as her POA, and present it to my dad like that... like everybody is protecting themselves, protecting each other, and protecting the future. That might be something you could try, telling him that you and your husband are getting your durable POAs in order too.

The lawyer also talked to my dad about all this, including having him sign both a health care advanced directive (which includes DNR wishes so no one has to decide for him, he already said) and a financial POA.

Since you mentioned your biological sister-in-law living seven hours away, I'll add that the lawyer my mom hired said it's always best to put whoever is closest as POA first, because sometimes decisions need to be made quickly. My sister lives two and a half hours away, so when my dad signed the POA, my mom is first, I'm her backup, and my sister is my backup, should it come to that.

I don't know if any of that helps, but that's my very recent experience.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to feelinglost8
Report

Maybe watch one of those shows where everybody is fighting over taking care of mom/dad. Then tell your SF, "We would really hate for that to happen in our family. Can we please make appointments with a lawyer to get POAs for medical and financial and a DNR... (I would add living will too)." Then, get it done.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Taarna
Report

Janus12,
I agree; "unexpected" is a much better word choice than "worst."
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to bluefinspirit
Report

Begin the conversation telling a story about a 'friend' whose parent became to ill to talk with doctors/family and there was no paperwork set up for your friend to make decisions, keep paying the bills, and handle personal affairs. Let him know that this scenario frightens you and then take the conversation further about going to an attorney to get things done right.

Maybe this approach talking about someone else will make it easier to have the discussion. There are plenty of people on this site telling about the disasters that happened when documentation was not in place. Let these caretaker 'friends' provide you with sources for your story.

In advance, talk w/his daughter to share your concerns so she won't say later on that you were trying to exclude her. It is possible for both of you to be listed as sharing the responsibility to make it easier for her to help you work this out
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to my2cents
Report

See All Answers

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter