Jun 6, 2023

Power of attorney in South Carolina for my senior or elderly parents

Manny Cominsky

Are you a South Carolina resident who wants to look after your parents well-being and decision-making abilities as they age? If so, obtaining power of attorney may be a viable solution to ensure their best interests are protected as they age, even if they are still comfortable handling their own affairs at the moment. Understanding the legal requirements, necessary documentation, and steps involved can empower you to make informed decisions and effectively advocate for your loved one's needs. To learn more about power of attorney in South Carolina, either read our helpful guide below or reach out to the Sunbound team for more information.

Understanding Power of Attorney

Before diving into the specifics of power of attorney law in South Carolina, it’s worth starting with a few high-level points about the legal concept of power of attorney. Power of attorney is a legal arrangement that allows you (the agent or attorney-in-fact) to make decisions and act on behalf of your senior or elderly parents (the principal). Under this arrangement, you (the agent) are granted the authority to act on behalf of your parents (the principal). The principal must be mentally competent and willing to grant this authority voluntarily.

The scope of this authority will be laid out in the power of attorney document, which specifies the extent of authority granted to the agent as the amount of time this authority will be granted. The extent of the authority can either be broad or limited in scope, and will depend on your parent’s wishes as represented in the document. A more limited grant of authority may involve your senior parent granting you the authority to engage in a discrete financial transaction on their behalf, such as handling the sale of a car or piece of real estate. A broader grant of authority may involve handling your parents’ medical affairs, such as decisions on what doctors to see and when.

Finally, the principal always retains the right to end the power of attorney relationship as long as they are mentally competent, which is a process known as revocation. It is important to communicate openly with your parents about their wishes and regularly review the power of attorney arrangements to ensure they align with their current needs and preferences. This will ensure that the power of attorney relationship is continuing to serve their needs in accordance with a grant of authority that they are comfortable with.

Types of Power of Attorney in South Carolina

South Carolina recognizes several different types of power of attorney, each with its own uses and requirements for proper formation:

General Power of Attorney: This type grants you broad authority to act on behalf of your parents in various matters. It is typically used when your parents are fully capable of making decisions but require assistance due to physical limitations or other circumstances. As its name suggests, a general power of attorney will usually grant the agent somewhat open-ended authority to handle a particular type of decisions on their senior parents behalf, such as handling their finances and paying their taxes.

Limited Power of Attorney: With limited power of attorney, your authority is restricted to specific matters, such as handling real estate transactions, managing investments, or representing your parents in legal proceedings. This type of power of attorney can be customized to meet your parents' specific needs.

Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney remains in effect even if your parents become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on their own. This type of power of attorney is especially useful for long-term planning and ensuring continuity of decision-making. Oftentimes family’s will sign a durable power of attorney even though their senior loved one is still capable of making their own decisions, so that their parent’s affairs are handled in a manner that they agree with should they ever become incapable of making their own decisions.

How to Obtain Power of Attorney in South Carolina

While you should always consult a local elder law attorney before creating a power of attorney document for your senior parent, the below steps provide an outline of how to go about setting up a power of attorney for your parent in South Carolina.

Consult an Attorney: While you do not formally need an attorney to create a power of attorney relationship, it is always a good idea to start by consulting an elder law attorney before signing any contracts that bind yourself or your senior parents. Therefore, before signing a power of attorney document we suggest that you seek guidance from an experienced attorney specializing in elder law or estate planning. They will provide invaluable assistance in understanding the legal requirements, drafting the necessary documents, and ensuring compliance with South Carolina laws.

Determine the Scope of Authority: Engage in thorough discussions with your parents to determine the extent of authority they wish to grant you. Consider their preferences regarding financial matters, healthcare decisions, property management, and other relevant areas to establish the appropriate type of power of attorney.

Prepare the Documents: Your attorney will prepare the power of attorney documents based on your parents' wishes and South Carolina laws. These documents must be carefully drafted and include specific provisions to address your parents' needs. In order to be valid, a South Carolina power of attorney must contain the name of the principal, the name of the agent, the date the power of attorney was executed, and the name of the witnesses. The document should also late out the scope and duration of your parent’s grant of authority to their agent.

Filing and Execution: Arrange for the signing of the power of attorney documents. This process involves your parents signing the documents in the presence of at least two witnesses, and then having the power of attorney document notarized by a notary public or justice of the peace. Your attorney will guide you through this important step to ensure compliance with legal requirements.

Notify Relevant Parties: After signing the power of attorney document it’s incredibly important to inform key individuals and institutions about your authority as the agent under the power of attorney. Notify banks, healthcare providers, financial institutions, and any other relevant parties, providing them with copies of the executed power of attorney documents. This ensures that they recognize and respect your legal standing when making decisions on behalf of your parents. Oftentimes institutions such as banks or doctors will require proof that you are your parent’s power of attorney, and so it is a good idea to take care of this step ahead of time.

Regular Review and Updates

As your parents' circumstances may change over time, it is crucial to regularly review the power of attorney documents and make updates as necessary. Changes in their health, financial situation, or preferences may require adjustments to the power of attorney provisions. Consult with your attorney periodically to ensure that the documents remain up to date and in compliance with South Carolina laws.

Obtaining power of attorney for your senior or elderly parents in South Carolina is a responsible step toward ensuring their well-being and safeguarding their interests. By understanding the different types of power of attorney available, following the legal process, and seeking guidance from an experienced attorney, you can confidently act as an advocate for your parents and make decisions on their behalf when necessary. Remember to communicate openly with your parents throughout the process and prioritize their wishes and best interests.

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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