Power of Attorney vs. Conservatorship
If a parent or loved one lacks the mental capacity to take care of themselves or their finances, then you may have to become their conservator. This is a process that involves the courts and requires you to prove that the person is no longer able to take care of themselves. This process can be timely and costly, so make sure you are ready for this if you decide to go this route.
If your parent or loved one is still able to take care of themselves, but needs help with bills and other financial matters, then you may want to obtain Power of Attorney for that individual. This is much easier than getting conservatorship. You may get resistance from the person that you are trying to help, so take baby steps and make sure they are comfortable with everything you are doing.
It is often easier if you have an account at the same bank as the person you are trying to help. Being able to access accounts online to transfer money and pay bills is much easier than the manual way.
Make sure the person you are helping sets up the power of attorney themselves. Later, if it becomes necessary, it will be much easier to prove that the POA is valid and will survive being challenged.
To help make things easier for the person setting up the POA and to make them feel more comfortable, make sure they know about everything you do in their accounts. You may want to create a system for paying bills where you write out the checks and attach them to the bills. Give the checks and bills to the person you are helping and let them see that all the bills are paid correctly. You may also want to show them a statement of account that will show beginning balances, bills paid and ending balances. It is often difficult for people to let go and have other people take care of them, so be patient in this process.
If the person you are helping does not want to create a Power of Attorney, but would like your help, then you can ease into the power of attorney by writing all the checks and then having them sign the checks. Use this as a monthly visit and make it one of the things you do while you are visiting. You can chat and talk about family events while you are going through bills and statements. This is a great way to make a boring task more enjoyable for everyone.
Once you have been paying bills for a while, the person may see that you are responsible and trustworthy and they may be more willing to create a POA to help the process.
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