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My mother is getting older, and we decided that I would gradually start taking over her finances, and that we would start getting all our ducks in a row well in advance of her having any type of difficulties taking care of things for herself.

I have done some reading on financial power of attorney, and it seems simple enough to get the documents drawn up and filled out.

My question is . . . then what? What do I do with the documents? Do the documents just sit in a drawer until I need them to perform transactions on her accounts? Do I start using the documents to get my name added to all her financial accounts (and can't she just do this herself, without signing such a document?)?

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When I granted someone power of attorney to one of my bank accounts, both of us went in to the bank with no documentation, and just signed some forms that the bank had. I suggest you and your mother go in together, though it should be possible for you alone to do so, so long as you bring the documentation. They'll need you there to record your signature.

Note that without further steps, both you and your mother will have control over her finances. I'm not sure what process you need to follow to remove her control, if and when that becomes necessary. You will want to discuss this with the bank.

If you don't mind a bit of non-financial advice, I strongly recommend that you inform any siblings about this Power of Attorney, and do so as soon as possible. You'll also want to be absolutely diligent when it comes to keeping records, once you start handling the finances. And if your mother does not already have a will, you'll want to ensure she draws one up. I'm sure you have thought about these things already. And it sounds like you have already talked to your mother about her financial goals.

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