After suffering a traumatic brain injury, communication and cognitive difficulties may render your loved one unable to care for themselves. If you’ve been granted power of attorney, which is sometimes referred to as an “attorney-in-fact," you may find yourself making critical decisions for your loved one. Here’s what you need to know about your new responsibilities.
Power of Attorney Duties
You as the agent named in the power of attorney are required to handle either medical decisions, financial decisions, or both for your loved one with a brain injury, who is known as the “principal.” Once enacted, the power of attorney typically remains in effect until the principal passes away.
If you are handling the financial side of things, your fiduciary responsibilities include:
- Collecting money owed to the principal.
- Handling investments, retirement accounts, etc.
- Operating the principal’s business.
- Overseeing property.
- Preparing and filing taxes.
- Using accounts to cover costs for housing, healthcare, debts, and so on.
On the other side, the medical responsibilities of the agent include making arrangments for:
- Basic issues like feeding, bathing, and clothing the principal if they can’t care for themselves.
- Ongoing therapies or rehabilitation programs the principal requires.
- Residential issues, such as installing adaptive equipment to remain at home or moving the principal into a facility to handle daily care.
- Which specific doctors the principal sees, as well as what treatments, surgeries, or medications are utilized.
With either type of power of attorney, you may have a responsibility to retain an attorney who can represent the principal. When dealing with a traumatic brain injury, that means hiring a personal injury lawyer who can fully investigate the circumstances of the head wound to determine if negligence was responsible. An attorney can then negotiate for a full settlement from insurance, or take the negligent party to court to hold them responsible.