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How to Change Power of Attorney for Someone With Dementia

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Assuming the role of a power of attorney (POA) for a loved one with dementia is a significant responsibility. It can be particularly challenging when that loved one is a parent.

Yet, as the condition progresses, there may come a time when changing or updating the POA becomes necessary. This may happen before your loved one decides to move into memory care, or it could be part of the process.

Changing the power of attorney for someone with dementia can be impossible if the process isn’t set up correctly. Typically, it requires a formal letter notifying all parties your loved one filed the original document with.

Undergoing this process may involve a senior living or memory care community if your loved one is a current resident. There’s much to consider with changing POA. Handling this task takes care, and it’s important to honor the wishes and well-being of your loved one.

The Critical Role of Power of Attorney in Dementia Care

Before we get into the fundamentals, it’s crucial to understand why the POA agreement holds such weight, especially in the context of dementia. For those unfamiliar, a POA is a legal document that allows a designated person, called the agent, to make decisions on behalf of another in the event they’re unable to do so themselves.

In dementia care, this document can serve as a lifeline to help both personal and financial decisions be managed by a trusted individual, as stipulated by the person with dementia. However, your loved one still maintains their right to make their own decisions as long as they are legally capable.

What Is Dementia?

Understanding dementia is the first step in appreciating why POA changes might need to take place. Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of cognitive impairments that affect memory, thinking, and social abilities to the extent that they interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form, but not the only one.

The severity of your loved one’s symptoms can determine when a POA change is required. Simple forgetfulness is a part of aging, however, recurrent memory loss, particularly of recent events or important dates, is a hallmark of dementia. Common dementia symptoms include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble recognizing faces
  • New problems with remembering words
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

Because the needs of a person with dementia may continue to evolve, it’s important to consider whether their current POA will continue to be the best fit.

Creating a New Power of Attorney

To make changes to a POA easier, it’s important to set it up correctly. Talking about and planning the POA early can save a lot of trouble later on. A person with early-stage dementia can typically still create a POA and designate their preferred agent. But, to ensure the POA will remain in effect when they’re no longer able to make their own decisions, it needs to be durable.

Each state has its own requirements and forms for creating a POA, so make sure you get the correct one for where you live.

While your loved one is capable of making their own decisions, they can easily change their POA whenever they want. If they do, they should destroy the original copy and let everyone know of their intentions. Only afterward should they create a new one.

Changing a Power of Attorney

If the POA is active and your loved one is no longer legally capable, changing the POA can get a bit more difficult, though it’s relatively simple to resign as an agent. You will need to write a formal letter notifying all parties, including:

  • The principal (the one whom you have power of attorney over)
  • Any co-agents
  • Banks
  • Senior living communities
  • Anyone else the original POA was filed with

However, this can have serious ramifications for your loved one if they’re no longer legally capable of creating a new POA. This is where planning comes into play again.

When first creating the POA, it would be wise to name successor agents in case the original agent resigns or becomes unable to carry out their duties. It should be clearly established in the POA who has authority at any time. It’s important to consider that if a POA has a co-agent, disagreements can arise about how best to carry out a loved one’s wishes.

Your loved one can also write the document in such a way as to grant you the ability to transfer authority to someone else. Without this, there generally isn’t a way for you to change your power of attorney. At this point, the only option may be guardianship, which can involve testifying in court.

Look for Support & Resources

The path you’re treading is not one you need to walk alone. There are legal advisors specialized in Elder Law, support groups, and an array of resources designed to guide you through each phase of the process.

Personalized Care for Your Loved One

Helping your loved one with dementia create a well-organized and durable POA is one of the most profound ways to honor their autonomy and maintain their quality of life. Being proactive and discussing their wishes can help you manage unexpected changes.

One of the most important wishes to understand is where your loved one wants to live. Fox Trail Memory Care understands the complexities of caregiving, and together, we can help your loved one thrive in their golden years. Explore our communities by booking a tour. We can’t wait to meet you!

Written by adminfoxtrail

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