Starting the Conversation About Power of Attorney - Tips and Strategies

Talking about Power of Attorney can be difficult. So, how can you broach the subject with an elderly parent, relative, or even your spouse and ease their worries? 

How to get the conversation started

·       Be bold

Raising the topic of Power of Attorney isn’t easy, but it’s the right decision.

When someone loses capacity – whether physically or mentally – a Power of Attorney document grants you the right to look after their welfare and finances in their best interests.

Effectively, it’s a safety net. Approach the discussion with confidence. To help with this, thoroughly research the subject in advance.

You can read more about the ins and outs with our helpful Power of Attorney articles.

·       Talk to other relatives first

Before you approach your parents or elderly relative, talk to other family members.

Chatting about your ideas for Power of Attorney lets you uncover different perspectives and thoughts, offers the opportunity to highlight the main benefits, and practice what you’ll say to your parents.

It’ll also help stop the notion that you’re ‘going behind their backs’. The last thing you want is a full-blown family fall-out.

If you do face tough objections, it’s worth pointing out that there’s no limit to the number of Power of Attorneys someone can name, so siblings can get involved, too.

Ideally, everyone should be on board – your argument becomes much stronger (especially if your parents are resistant).

·       Make a plan

Know what you’re going to say once you get in a room with your parents. It’s not enough to simply ask them to sign the right documents – especially if they’ve previously dismissed the idea, or have unfounded fears about losing control and what Power of Attorney means for them.

Consider your approach and set out:

·       What Power of Attorney is
·       Benefits
·       Price

You’ll should also prepare for any questions or objections the person may have. Can you give a convincing answer? It’ll make your case a lot stronger if you can.

·       Focus on the future

Once you finally sit down to have ‘the big talk’, start gently.

Your aim is to draw a consensus, rather than bully someone into signing something they don’t want to sign – which is also illegal.

A good plan is to focus on the future. That’s what Power of Attorney is really all about, after all; preparing for what happens if they lose physical or mental capacity. If there are grandchildren in the family, bring them into the conversation too. They will help illustrate the need for Power of Attorney.

Explain that this document is more like an insurance policy. It’s designed to protect them just in case something happens. As your initial research will have shown, attorneys can only act in the best interest of the person they’re looking after. They legally can’t benefit or advantage themselves.

·       Choose the right time

Obtaining Power of Attorney is an important and serious step. It demands focus and understanding. So, probably not a topic to raise at a family barbeque or during the middle of a heated argument.

Determine the best time to all sit down and discuss the matter undistracted.

And do this as early as possible.

We know that, in life, anything can happen at any time (the last year-and-a-half has shown us that time and again). It’s also wise to  start the conversation sooner rather than later, giving you and your family time to accept the need for Power of Attorney, and wrap your heads around what you need to do, and explore every option.

·       Explain options openly

There are several types of Power of Attorney, and you should present all available options. Not only does this keep everyone on the same page, it also stops those in need of an attorney (in legal terms, ‘the donor’) feeling like they’re being railroaded into making a decision; that they rightly still retain control over what happens to them.

Your aim should be to involve your parents in the entire process. Be honest about what each of the different Power of Attorney documents can do, the costs, and the benefits.

The two Power of Attorneys are:

Ordinary Power of Attorney – a temporary measure, often designed for short stays in hospital or letting you manage money and property when the donor is abroad.

Lasting Power of Attorney – an on-going measure, allowing you to act as either a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney, managing the donor’s care and day-to-day living, or a Property and Financial Power of Attorney managing their estate.

 ·       Listen

You may have decided now is the time to obtain Power of Attorney for your loved ones. But don’t let that blind you. People don’t tend to like being told what to do and what to think, and often they just want to talk it over – especially a subject as important as this.

Take time to hear them out. Discover their fears and concerns (and ease them wherever possible). See if they have alternative ideas or highlight problems you haven’t seen.  

Power of Attorney should always be approached as a team process. So, listen to what they have to say.

·       Bring relevant information

One of the best ways to keep the conversation going – and keeping your loved one engaged – is to bring as much extra information you can.

Guides and leaflets are a great start, as well as a list of authoritative websites, such as those from national newspapers and the Government. Run through these together and if they want to think about the proposition, leave these guides so they can look into the subject in their own time.

This will, again, help them understand why Power of Attorney is essential, while letting them retain that all-important autonomy.

If you’ve already found a solicitor, you could ‘introduce’ them via their website. However, you might find more success in choosing a legal adviser together.

The Law Superstore can help you find Power of Attorney solicitors near you. Just answer a couple of easy questions to compare legal experts precisely tailored to meet your needs and budget.