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When children have to step up to protect parents' assets

Many people may choose to live, work and retire in California because it offers a high quality of life for people in every age group. Many senior citizens are happy to call California home, and spend their retirement years basking in the warm, temperate climate. There may come a time, though, when seniors need some help financially, and often this burden falls on their children. Perhaps even more difficult, though, is the situation that often occurs when seniors need someone to help them manage their own finances.

As people age, they go through an inevitable degree of cognitive decline, when their memory and their decision-making skills aren't quite as sharp as they should be. The warning signs may include forgetting to pay bills, making purchases they don't need or don't remember making, and may even extend to making generally poor financial decisions. As people get older they are more likely to be swindled by con artists or duped into donating money to suspicious parties, and if this happens a person could see their life savings disappear staggeringly fast. In addition to this, if aging parents suddenly become incapacitated due to some illness or other unexpected reason, it may leave family members without the power to make financial decisions on their behalf.

It is not an easy thing to do, but children whose elderly parents are showing signs of cognitive vulnerability need to talk to their parents, and an attorney, about assigning a durable power of attorney. A power of attorney, or POA, gives the child or another designee the authority to act on their parent's behalf and protect them from making questionable financial decisions. Depending on the situation, a child may only want to assign a power of attorney for specific purposes, such as managing retirement accounts.

Powers of attorney can only be assigned with the person's knowing consent. An incapacitated person cannot grant POA, so setting it up while the person is in full mental control is extremely important. A POA can save a California family a lot of time, heartache, and money, so people shouldn't delay when they see a parent slipping towards cognitive decline.

Source: Fox Business "Taking Away Dad's Checking Account," Gail Buckner, July 1, 2013

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