Let me introduce you to a family caregiver, Lisa from Hawaii. 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.
So why are we looking at Hawaii caregiver in North Carolina? 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 North Carolina supported the passage of 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 23 states and counting. In addition to making power of attorney laws more uniform, AARP North Carolina was instrumental in making it easier for people caring for loved ones across state lines by working for the passage of a Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings and Jurisdiction Act in the 2016 NC General Assembly.
Hear more about the challenges of family caregivers at www.iheartcaregivers.org
Photo by Max_Jitters