When it comes to the tasks of caregiving, responsibilities such as medication management, running errands or cooking meals frequently come to mind. Yet caregivers often have to assume responsibility for oversight of finances, or even power of attorney, for a loved one. Bills still have to be paid and healthcare decisions must be made. And if families haven’t discussed who will assume power of attorney or how the finances will be managed, the result can be a situation where everyone is stressed and unsure of how to begin the process.
That’s why it’s important to have these discussions well in advance of a crisis and to educate yourself and your parents as to what is involved so everyone is prepared when a situation arises. To help make transitioning into these responsibilities easier, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) created four guides to assist those who will assume the roles of:
- Power of attorney
- Court-appointed guardians
- Government fiduciaries
If you’re unsure about where to start, you may appreciate the Where to go for help section within each guide. And while there is the disclaimer that the “guides are not intended to provide legal advice or serve as a substitute for your own legal counsel,” the guides nonetheless are an important reference tool for navigating these new responsibilities.
When you have the finances discussion, it is also important to bring up the matter of advance healthcare directives and wills. Not having these documents prepared in advance of a crisis can also result in unfortunate snap decisions and unnecessary hardship. Although the holidays aren’t a time when people want to discuss end-of-life issues because families are together in one place, it is often the best time.