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When would you be a Power of Attorney – Aging Alone, A Client Story

This profession of daily money management that I have chosen often seems a dichotomy of sorts. When I describe what I do, what my company does, it seems so simple – handle the daily financial paperwork which comes into a client’s personal life – open mail, pay bills, get tax documents organized, design budgets, handle insurance matters, and the like. And yet, it can be so complex dealing with the personal issues that face individuals.

Just recently I received a call from an attorney who was reaching out to me on behalf of a client. Their client, a gentleman in his mid-80’s, was trying to plan for a time when he might not be able to handle his financial matters on his own. He is single and has no close family or friends to whom he could entrust this task. In fact, this has become so common that there is actually a term for people who are aging alone with no support system – “senior orphan.” What courage it takes to admit that you have no one and need help!

It was an unusual call in that the lawyer asked if, as a daily money manager, I would take Financial Power of Attorney – a request generally made after I’ve met a client and worked with them for a time. Under the right circumstances, taking POA is something I do, although I don’t take it lightly. I am fully insured, and I sent through to the attorney proof of my insurance, my signed AADMM Code of Ethics, and a copy of the AADMM Standard of Practice. (American Association of Daily Money Managers) so they could review the documents before I met with the client.

When the client and I did meet, and he had his legal documents changed to have me named as his Financial POA. It is incredibly humbling to have someone trust in me so easily and completely. On his side, I believe there was great comfort in finding a professional who could handle his financial matters when he became incapable of doing so. Apparently, he had struggled with putting a plan in place for his later years, and, after meeting me, he felt a great sense of relief.

We talk monthly and meet as needed. My client is capable and currently able to handle his own affairs, and I am not intrusive into his life. If and when the time comes for me to take a more active role, he has given me the tools to do so.

I was actually taken aback when several months after we met he reached out to me about taking his Medical Power of Attorney. It is not something I would normally agree to. I am sure it can be quite scary to think that your medical wishes would not be taken into consideration because you had no one to look after those wishes. I did ask him, in addition to having the legal documents drawn up, to write in his own hand a letter to me outlining his wishes. I was Medical POA for my Dad, and my Dad had written such a letter to me. I carried the legal documents and that letter with me whenever my Dad sought medical care, and the doctors read and treated the letter with great respect. Doctors often commented that they felt my Dad had communicated his wishes in a very personal way. I felt it was equally important for me to have such a letter from this client as I am not a family member.

You might be wondering what such a letter might say. My Dad’s letter was handwritten, addressed to me and my family. He thanked us for our love and the time we had together. He asked that he have as natural a death as possible and to keep him comfortable without pain…. Very simple words with a powerful message.

I have great respect for clients who put their houses in order. None of this is easy to do, especially think and plan for your own mortality. What would you do if you were alone? Do you have ideas for other options for those aging alone? Feel free to let me know your story and please feel free to share this post with your network.

We appreciate that you read our blog, Financially Fit in Five. The LC Group is a daily money management firm.  We can assist with financial education, organization, bill pay, and budgeting.