Let me introduce you to a fellow family caregiver, Lisa. With the help of her sister, Lisa cared for her mother with Alzheimer’s disease — managing medications, cleaning the house, and handling any medical issues. They also managed her mother’s finances. Lisa shared:
“It felt like our whole world was slowly falling apart. At the time we did not know much about the disease or how quickly it was going to debilitate her. My sister and I took responsibility of making sure that she was provided for…”
To help manage her mother’s finances, Lisa became an agent under power of attorney. A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document used by an individual (the principal) to name someone else (the agent) to make financial decisions and act on the principal’s behalf. It’s a legal tool for family caregivers to allow them to make financial decisions for a parent, spouse or other loved one, and sometimes the responsibility extends to when that individual is no longer able to do so for him or herself.
Without a doubt, navigating and managing someone else’s finances can be complicated, stressful and exhausting. Because power of attorney laws vary from state to state, these challenges can be even harder for those caring across state lines. And the differences in state laws as well as lack of oversight can lead to terrible consequences — even abuse.
That’s why AARP is fighting for the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA), a law that contains 21 provisions, including:
- Outlining the agent’s duties and responsibilities so family caregivers have tools they need to make important financial decisions
- Addressing third-party concerns, like banks, about the legitimacy of a power of attorney
- Protecting individuals from exploitation
So far, UPOAA has been enacted in 18 states and counting.
- In Washington and Utah, UPOAA has been passed by the state legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
- In South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota, UPOAA has been introduced.
Has your state passed the Uniform Power of Attorney Act yet?
Are you managing a loved one’s finances? Share your story.
If you’re a family caregiver, you’re not alone.
- To learn more about managing a loved one’s finances, click here.
- To stay up to date or to get involved with AARP’s caregiving advocacy in the states, sign up for the AARP Advocates e-newsletter or visit your state Web page.
- To share your caregiving story and help us fight for you, visit aarp.org.iheartcaregivers.
- For tools and resources, visit aarp.org/caregiving.