Monday, 14 November 2011

Got An Aged Parent? Get A Power Of Attorney



And get one now before it's too late. 


If you have read this blog in the last few months you will know that Marion's mum Flo has recently suffered a very rapid decline in her memory. We've been to see plenty of doctors and specialists and they have all suggested that she considers granting a power of attorney to make sure that her finances can be controlled in the event of her being incapable of controlling them on her own. We nodded sagely at each appointment and said that we'd put it on the list of things to do. But we didn't get around to it. 


When we got back from Scotland on Saturday it was clear that Flo's memory loss has continued its downward spiral in the two weeks that we were away and we decided that the time for that power of attorney has now arrived. We downloaded the forms from Direct.gov and, although they are fairly complex documents, the website and the forms themselves provide very clear instructions on their completion. If you don't feel confident there are plenty of solicitors who can assist. 


Duly armed with our forms we went to see Flo this morning and she was happy to appoint me as her attorney and she signed the documents with her friend acting as witness. 


Step one completed, we headed for an appointment with the doctor as we needed two more people to confirm that she knew what she was doing and we weren't trying to fiddle her out of her life savings. We made it in the nick of time as this was what happened. I explained the reason for our visit to the doctor and he confirmed that it was a very sensible move. 


"So OK, I need to know that you understand what this form that you have signed means" says the doctor pointing to the form.


"What form?'


"This one that you have signed. You know what it is don't you?"


"No"


"Do you remember me saying that you need to get someone else to look after your affairs?'


"Yes. I want John to look after my affairs. I can't do it anymore."


"So that's why you've signed this form"


"What form?"


The doctor continued to explain what was going on and then went back to the form.


"So I need to be sure that you know what you have signed before I sign"


"I don't know what I have signed"


Fortunately the doctor managed to stir a few memories in Flo for a couple of minutes and was eventually happy to sign the form. But it was touch and go.


So, if you have a parent or parents who is/are getting old, don't fall into complacency like we (or really I should say "I" as Marion wanted us to do this a long time ago) did. It doesn't need to be instigated by your children. If you are getting on a bit yourself and your kids haven't even thought about it, think about it now. It's never too soon to get the documents signed. Marion and I won't even be sixty for a few years but we have already signed all the necessary paperwork and if our memories start to fade, our children can step in straight away.


If we had waited another week, such is the speed of Flo's memory loss I doubt that the doctor would have felt her capable of knowing what she was signing and we would be facing all sorts of legal obstacles in trying to help her to manage for the rest of her life and that is a hurdle that we could do without.