The Power of Power of Attorney

This document will help you manage your parents' finances when they no longer can.

Some day your parents may no longer be able to handle their finances on their own. Before that day comes, you need to have the right legal documents to help them manage their money when they can't.

The most important document you will need is power of attorney. It's like the key to a car -- without it, you can't drive, says Stephen J. Silverberg, an elder law attorney in Roslyn Heights, N.Y., and immediate past president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). However, unlike taking away the car keys when your parent should no longer be driving, you can't wait until mom or dad doesn't have the mental capacity to handle financial transactions to get this document. For a power of attorney to be valid, your parent must be competent when he or she signs it.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

To continue reading this article
please register for free

This is different from signing in to your print subscription

Why am I seeing this? Find out more here

Cameron Huddleston
Former Online Editor,

Award-winning journalist, speaker, family finance expert, and author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk.

Cameron Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.