Helping San Bernardino’s older residents prepare for their senior years
Even with the best preparation, life advances quicker than we’d like. An accident may take away your ability to drive, shop, prepare meals, and perform many daily activities – for months, a year, or a lifetime. As we age, the wear and tear of old age affects us physically and mentally. Diseases like dementia force us to depend on the kindness of others. Cancer, heart diseases, and other illnesses may prevent us from making decisions about the medical care we need.
At JS Abrams Law, our San Bernardino elder care lawyers advise seniors and people in ill health about their options. We help you prepare the correct power of attorney (POA) documents and other legal documents to give you the comfort of knowing you’ll be cared for you now or if you become incapacitated for any reason. If you don’t have the correct financial, personal, or medical POA forms – then a family member will need to seek court approval to represent you. Alternatively, the state of California may make the financial, personal, and medical decisions for you.
How San Bernardino power of attorney documents protect you
There are three main types of power of attorney documents, our seasoned senior care lawyers use on your behalf:
- A financial power of attorney. This document appoints a person to handle your financial matters such as making deposits and paying the mortgage or the rent. Your financial POA can sell your home if he/she thinks a sale is wise. The POA has access to your bank accounts and your retirement accounts – unless you specifically limit his/her access.
- A personal power of attorney. This document appoints a person such as a family member or friend to make daily living decisions for you. The decisions include what you eat, what activities you engage in, who you socialize with, and other personal matters.
- A medical power of attorney. This document appoints someone you trust to take you to your doctors and make medical decisions for you. If the person you appoint has HIPAA approval, the person you select can have access to your medical records.
California law uses the following POA terms:
- Principal. This is the person (you) who creates the power of attorney
- Attorney-in-fact. This is the person you select to represent your financial, personal, or medical interests.
Our San Bernardino power of attorney lawyers draft the correct forms for your needs. We take steps to ensure the POA is properly dated and signed so that the POA is valid.
While many people choose a relative to be their POA, you can choose a friend or a professional such as your lawyer or your accountant. You should speak with the person you select for any type of POA to make sure they do want to act on your behalf.
What does a durable power of attorney mean?
A durable power of attorney is a special type of POA that becomes active if you become physically or mentally incapable of acting for yourself. A durable POA must have the following language according to the California statute:
- “This power of attorney shall not be affected by subsequent incapacity of the principal.”
- “This power of attorney shall become effective upon the incapacity of the principal.”
- “Similar words showing the intent of the principal that the authority conferred shall be exercisable notwithstanding the principal’s subsequent incapacity.”
How do a standard POA and a durable POA differ in San Bernardino?
Generally, you use a standard POA if you are ill now (for example, you had a serious car accident) and you are mentally competent. A standard POA becomes effective when it is signed.
A durable POA is used in contemplation that you may become physically or mentally incapacitated in the future. The older you get, the more you need to think about speaking to your lawyer about a durable power of attorney.
A standard power of attorney is used if you are mentally competent – but you are ill because of a disease or an accident. A standard power of attorney is normally effective as soon as you sign it.
When does a POA start/end?
Our San Bernardino power of attorney lawyers explain to our clients how POAs work. The starting and ending dates are as follows:
- A standard POA starts when you sign it.
- A standard POA ends when you become incapacitated or if you revoke it while you’re mentally competent.
- A durable POA starts when you are no longer physically or mentally competent
- Both a standard POA and a durable POA end when you die or if the attorney-in-fact dies or no longer wants to represent you.
- Both type of POA documents end if you appointed your spouse to be your attorney-in-fact – and you divorce.
Common POA issues San Bernardino residents should know
- The person you appoint has the right to compensation for helping you.
- The attorney-in-fact must make decisions in your best interest.
- If you use a financial POA, the person you choose should keep their money separate from theirs.
- Some of your objectives, especially financial concerns, may be managed through a trust agreement.
How does a San Bernardino medical power of attorney work?
A medical attorney is generally used so that the person you choose as your representative:
- Can obtain the medical information they need to make other medical decisions for you.
- Can make medical decisions for you. These can include which doctors and health providers you treat with, what tests you take, and what treatments (including surgery) you need.
There are a few caveats.
- Your spouse can normally make medical decisions for you if you don’t have a medical power of attorney. Your San Bernardino power of attorney lawyer can explain the rights of partners.
- California may limit some of the decisions even a person with a medical power of attorney on your behalf can make.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that your medical attorney-in-fact should:
- Not be any of your healthcare providers
- Qualify as a medical agent
- Be prepared to make hard medical decisions, even end-of-life decision
- Be ready to be your spokesperson
Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms
In California, your doctors must honor your end-of-life decisions – IF there is a signed POLST or a signed Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form. The POLST form informs emergency healthcare providers whether or not to use cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on your behalf. There are specific signing requirements for a POLST which you/your POA and the doctor/nurse practitioner/physician assistant must complete.
A POLST does permit life-sustaining measures such as antibiotics, intubation, dialysis, and feeding tubes.
Health care directives and livings wills may also help with end-of-life considerations.
At JS Abrams Law, our San Bernardino power of attorney lawyers are skilled elder care lawyers. We help you plan for when life becomes difficult and when you will pass on. To review all your elder care concerns call us at 818-330-4515 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.