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Question:
My grandfather has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. I am trying to help him with his affairs. I have a Power of Attorney for him but someone told me that I may need something else to make medical decisions for him. Is that right?
Answer:
A Power of Attorney will allow you to take care of necessary financial, banking, tax, legal, and other matters if your grandfather is unable to do so. In addition to the Power of Attorney your grandfather should also have an Advance Directive for Health Care. The Advance Directive allows a person to give health care instructions to his physician and to name a person (called a health care representative) to speak for him about medical treatment if he cannot speak for himself. To give a power of attorney or to appoint a health care representative, the person making the appointment must understand what he or she is doing. Once a person loses capacity, it is too late for that person to give someone a power of attorney or to appoint a health care representative. At that point, a conservator or a guardian can be appointed by the court if there is a need. You should speak with an Elder Law attorney to help you understand the options available to you and your grandfather and determine which of those options fits your situation.