Estate Planning 101

Getting Power of Attorney for an Elderly Parent in Tennessee

This guide will delve into the various aspects of acquiring a Power of Attorney for an elderly parent in Tennessee, from the basics to the specifics of unique situations including dementia, mental illness, and hospitalization.
September 14, 2023

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Snug makes it easy to create a Will or Trust in under 20 minutes. Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives are included for free with any Will or Trust, as is a year of free updates.
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Need a Will or Trust?

Snug makes it easy to create a Will or Trust in under 20 minutes. Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives are included for free with any Will or Trust, as is a year of free updates.
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As our parents age, there may come a time when they need additional help managing their affairs. One way we can help is by obtaining a Power of Attorney (POA) to ensure their wishes and interests are upheld, especially when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. In Tennessee, the process requires understanding your parent's situation, their overall wellbeing, and the legal requirements of the state.

The Process of Getting POA for a Parent in Tennessee

Getting a POA for a parent in Tennessee involves several steps. By understanding these steps, you can ensure your parent's interests are protected. Here's a breakdown of the process:

  1. Understanding the Types of POA: The first step is to understand the different types of POAs available in Tennessee. A General POA gives broad powers to a person or organization (known as an agent or attorney-in-fact) to act in the interests of your parent. A Durable POA allows the agent to act even if your parent becomes incapacitated. A Healthcare POA, allows the agent to make medical decisions when your parent is unable to do so.
  2. Conversations with Your Parent: It’s important to have open and honest discussions with your parent about their wishes and who they would trust to make decisions on their behalf. This can be a sensitive topic, so approach it with care.
  3. Choosing an Agent: The agent should be a trustworthy person who understands your parent's wishes and is willing to act in their best interest. This could be a family member, a close friend, or a professional like an attorney.
  4. Drafting the POA Document: Once you have clarity on the type of POA and the agent, the next step is to draft the document. It should clearly outline the powers bestowed upon the agent, when the powers begin and any limitations on the powers.
  5. Legal Formalities: In Tennessee, the POA document must be signed by your parent (the principal), in the presence of a notary public. Some types of POA may also require two witnesses.
  6. Filing the Document: While it's not necessary to file the document with any court or government body in Tennessee, it's recommended to keep it in a safe but accessible place. Provide copies to the agent, alternate agents, and any institutions like banks or healthcare providers that may need it.
  7. Periodic Review: It’s a good idea to review the POA periodically and make changes if necessary. This is especially important if your parent's health or personal situation changes.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Get POA?

Obtaining a Power of Attorney (POA) can seem like a daunting process, filled with legal jargon and formalities. You might be wondering if you need a lawyer to handle this process. The short answer in Tennessee is, it depends. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Complexity of the Situation: If your parent’s estate or financial situation is complex, having a lawyer might be beneficial. A lawyer can provide advice tailored to your specific circumstances, ensuring that all legal bases are covered.
  2. Understanding Legal Language: POA documents are filled with legal terminology. If you're comfortable understanding these terms and how they apply to your situation, you might decide to proceed without a lawyer. However, if you find the jargon confusing, a lawyer can help clarify these terms and ensure you fully comprehend the document you're preparing.
  3. Disputes: If there's potential for disputes among family members about the POA, having a lawyer can help mitigate these issues. They can provide neutral advice and ensure the document is legally sound.
  4. Elder Law Issues: Elder law can be a complex field, with its own set of rules and regulations. If your parent has unique needs, such as long-term care planning or Medicaid eligibility, an elder law attorney could be helpful.

Getting POA for a Relative with Dementia

One of the most emotionally challenging circumstances families can face is when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. A decline in cognitive abilities can make it difficult for individuals to manage their own affairs, making a Power of Attorney (POA) an essential tool for safeguarding their interests. Here's how you can navigate the process of getting a POA for a relative with dementia in Tennessee:

  1. Timing is Crucial: A POA is a legal document that requires the person granting power – the principal – to be of 'sound mind' when signing. Therefore, it’s crucial to discuss and execute a POA as soon as possible after a dementia diagnosis. Waiting too long might render your loved one incapable of legally granting a POA.
  2. Choosing the Right POA: In the case of dementia, a Durable POA is often the best choice. This type of POA remains in effect even if your loved one becomes incapacitated, allowing the designated agent to make decisions on their behalf.
  3. Medical Evaluation: If your relative’s mental capacity is in question, it might be wise to have them evaluated by a medical professional before executing the POA. This can provide evidence that they were competent at the time of signing, potentially preventing legal disputes down the line.
  4. Legal Assistance: Due to the complexities involved, it's often beneficial to involve a lawyer. They can guide you through the process, ensuring all legal requirements are met and that the document is crafted to best serve your relative's needs.
  5. Compassionate Communication: Discussing a POA with a loved one suffering from dementia can be emotionally taxing. It's important to approach these conversations with compassion, patience, and understanding, clearly explaining what a POA is and how it can protect their interests.
  6. Regular Reviews: As dementia progresses, it may be necessary to review and adjust the POA. Regularly reassessing the situation will help ensure that your loved one's needs are being adequately met.

Getting POA for Relatives in Comas or in Hospital

The need for a Power of Attorney (POA) often becomes apparent in unfortunate circumstances, such as when a loved one falls into a coma or requires extended hospitalization. In these situations, the process for obtaining a POA in Tennessee has its unique nuances. Here's how to navigate through this challenging scenario:

  1. Incapacity and POA: A fundamental requirement for a valid POA is that the principal (the person granting the power) must be of sound mind at the time of signing. If your relative is in a coma or otherwise incapacitated, they may not be able to legally grant a POA.
  2. Existing POA: If your relative had the foresight to create a Durable POA before becoming incapacitated, the designated agent can step in and make decisions on their behalf. This is why it's always recommended to establish a POA as part of advance planning.
  3. Guardianship or Conservatorship: In cases where no POA exists and your relative is unable to create one due to their condition, you may need to pursue a guardianship or conservatorship. This involves a court process where a judge appoints a guardian or conservator to make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person.
  4. Medical POA or Healthcare Proxy: If your relative is hospitalized but still mentally competent, they might consider creating a Medical POA or healthcare proxy. This document specifically allows the appointed agent to make healthcare decisions if the principal becomes unable to do so.
  5. Legal Assistance: Given the complexities of these situations, seeking legal advice is highly recommended. An attorney can guide you through the available options and help you choose the best course of action.
  6. Emotional Support: It’s an incredibly emotional time when a loved one is in a coma or hospital. Therefore, it's essential to seek emotional support for yourself, whether from friends, family, or professional counselors.

Making a POA for a Parent Online with Snug

In the digital age, technology has opened up new avenues for tackling traditionally complex tasks, making them simpler and more accessible. This includes creating a Power of Attorney (POA) for your parent. With online platforms like Snug, the process of drafting a POA can be done from the comfort of your home, saving you time and providing convenience.

Here's how you can make a POA for a parent online using Snug:

  1. Understand Your Needs: Before you start, it's crucial to understand your specific needs. Snug provides the ability to make general and medical powers of attorney.
  2. Create an Account: To get started, create an account on Snug. This will allow you to access their suite of tools and resources.
  3. Follow the Guided Process: Snug provides a guided process to create your POA. This step-by-step process ensures all necessary information is included and that the document meets your specific needs.
  4. Review and Edit: Snug allows you to review and edit the document as necessary. This ensures that the final POA accurately reflects your parent's wishes and the powers granted to the agent.
  5. Legal Validation: Once satisfied with the document, you can print it out. Remember, for the POA to be legally valid in Tennessee, it must be signed by your parent in the presence of a notary public.
  6. Store Safely: After validation, Snug offers safe and secure storage for your documents. This ensures that the POA is readily available when needed.

By using Snug, you're not only making the process of creating a POA more efficient, but you're also ensuring that the document is legally sound. Snug's platform is designed to help you navigate the complexities of estate planning, providing peace of mind that your parent's interests are well protected. Remember, it's always a good idea to consult with a legal professional if you have specific questions or concerns.