Assist Elderly Affected by Natural Disasters, Get Power of Attorney

By Arleen Richards
Epoch Times Contributor
Created: December 14, 2012 Last Updated: December 14, 2012
Related articles: Life » Slice of Life
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Thai rescuers help an elderly local resident evacuate her neighborhood affected by floodwaters in Bangkok on October 28, 2011. (Nicholas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

Thai rescuers help an elderly local resident evacuate her neighborhood affected by floodwaters in Bangkok on October 28, 2011. (Nicholas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

Our elderly family and friends love living in their own homes, so much so, that they might find themselves in quite a predicament should a natural disaster occur.

As the recent Hurricane Sandy demonstrated, such disasters are becoming more prevalent and hitting closer and closer to home. When a storm like Hurricane Sandy is pending, our government officials take action to ensure the safety of all citizens, especially the elderly.

Many elderly live alone and despite their insistance on staying, they may be transported to a nursing home or some other facility to ensure their safety. If their homes are significantly damaged, some elderly may not be returned to their homes and are otherwise incapable of taking the steps necessary to get repairs done and prevent further damage to their property.

A trusted family member or friend can obtain a limited power of attorney in order to file the necessary application to FEMA or to an insurance company.

The more common type of power of attorney is a “durable power of attorney”, which generally is a written document that appoints an agent to act on your behalf for certain specified acts, which usually includes banking decisions, paying bills, managing your property, etc. The authority passes to the agent the minute the principal signs the document and it remains in effect even if the principal becomes disabled.

Alternatively, the principal may prefer a “springing power of attorney”, which does not become effective until the principal becomes disabled.

If neither of these documents have been prepared in advance and you find yourself temporarily incapacitated due to a natural disaster, a “limited power of attorney” or “special power of attorney can be prepared. In this instance, the agent would only have authority for a specific act and/or for a specific period of time.

Unfortunately, families don’t always live close to one another and even though someone has been entrusted with power of attorney, he might have moved to another state and cannot easily be available to ensure all of the necessary repairs are taken care of and all the appropriate forms are submitted.

In this  case, the principal or elderly person may sign a special power of attorney to appoint a trusted friend to just take care of submitting paperwork and overseeing repairs. The “special” authoritiy would only be applied to these tasks and it would not supersede a general power of attorney previously assigned to a family member.

In New Jersey, a power of attorney document should be signed by the principal and a witness in the presence of a notary public. Contact a local attorney where you live for assistance.

Information contained in this article is not intended to be legal advice nor applicable to all situations. For legal assistance, contact an attorney in your state of residence. You can visit Arleen’s website at

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  • lordhelmet

    Let me guess….. If Obama had a son….


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