Feb 15, 2023

How do I get power of attorney for my senior parent in Arizona?

Nat Miller

One of the most common steps that a family takes before a senior loved one moves into a senior living community is to set up a power of attorney document. Even if a senior loved one is still capable of handling their medical and financial affairs on their own, it can often make sense for seniors to have power of attorney documents in place in the event that they find themselves unable to handle their own affairs. While power of attorney laws are generally the same throughout the country, each state is free to create its own power of attorney laws and so it is important to make sure that you and your senior loved one have an understanding of all relevant local laws before drafting or signing a power of attorney document. 

If you or your senior loved one live in Arizona, make sure to be on top of all of Arizona’s legal requirements for creating a valid power of attorney document. While you should always consult a local Arizona lawyer if you’re thinking about an Arizona power of attorney, use this guide to familiarize yourself with Arizona’s power of attorney requirements.

What is power of attorney?

Before diving into the specifics of Arizona law it’s helpful to start with an overview of what power of attorney is in the first place. Power of attorney is a broad legal mechanism whereby one individual (the principal) grants a different individual (their agent), the power to do something on their behalf. Power of attorney can be used for any number of different things, both big and small. Sometimes, a senior parent will sign a power of attorney document to allow their adult child to help them with a specific, limited task such as selling their home. In other cases, a senior parent may use power of attorney to allow their adult child to make all the important financial and medical decisions in their life should they become incapacitated and unable to do so. Whatever its use, the obligations and responsibilities created by a power of attorney arrangement are laid out in the power of attorney document. 

Creating Arizona power of attorney

The requirements for creating a valid power of attorney in Arizona are similar to those found throughout the rest of the country. In order for a power of attorney to be valid in Arizona it must be in writing, it must clearly identify the principal’s agent, and it must be signed by the principal. When the power of attorney is signed there must be a witness who is not the agent (or their spouse or children) as well as a notary public present. If the power of attorney is a medical power of attorney (more on those below), the witness is also prohibited from being a relative or heir of the principal, or an individual involved in giving medical care to the principal. 

In order to create a durable power of attorney (meaning a power of attorney that will continue in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated) the power of attorney document must specify whether the power of attorney becomes effective upon signing, and whether the power of attorney remains in effect if the principal is later disabled or becomes incapacitated. The power of attorney document must also have a termination date, or otherwise state that it remains valid no matter how much time passes.

Types of Arizona power of attorney

Arizona law recognizes several different types of power of attorney, each of which may be appropriate depending on you and your senior loved one’s particular situation.

General Power of Attorney

As its name suggests, a general power of attorney might be appropriate if your senior parent needs help handling general things outside of the medical arena like filing their taxes or handling any personal property or business dealings. A general power of attorney is the broadest grant of power of attorney, and will allow your senior parent’s agent to act in a variety of ways on their behalf. 

Special Power of Attorney

Contrary to a general power of attorney, where the principal grants their agent broad powers to handle various non-medical affairs in their life, the special power of attorney is designed for an agent to accomplish a discrete task on behalf of the principal. One very common use for a special power of attorney, for example, is where a senior parent grants their adult child the authority to sell the senior parent’s home on their behalf (seniors often sell their homes as part of financing their senior living expenses). A special power of attorney is generally designed to lose force as soon as the specific goal of the power of attorney document is accomplished.

Medical power of attorney

A medical or healthcare power of attorney is designed to allow your senior parent’s agent to make decisions on their behalf in the event of a health emergency. A healthcare power of attorney can be a great idea for your senior loved one as it lets them relax knowing that medical decisions will be made on their behalf by an individual that they have selected and who they trust. As noted above there is an additional wrinkle under Arizona law to creating a medical power of attorney, namely that the witness not be a relative or heir of the principal, or involved in their healthcare decisions.

After signing power of attorney

Once you and your senior parent have successfully created a valid Arizona power of attorney, it is a good idea to distribute the signed power of attorney to all the institutions that you will be interacting with on your senior parent’s behalf (note: distributing a power of attorney isn’t specific to Arizona and is simply a good practice to do wherever you or your senior parent live!). Many institutions require the signed power of attorney before you can act on your senior parent’s behalf, and it is often easier to distribute the signed document right after signing it when it is still top of mind and your parent can help you make sure you have distributed it to all relevant parties. While every situation is different, some organizations that may require your senior parent’s power of attorney include your senior parent’s bank, insurance and healthcare providers, and lawyers and accountants.

To learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior living more affordable for you or your loved one, send us an email at info@sunboundhomes.com or request more information on Sunbound. Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living and is on a mission to make senior living affordable for everyone.

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