My Parent Has an ASRS Account and Needs Help. Now What?

This can be a complex question. If someone you care for – a parent, grandparent, spouse, etc. – has an account with the ASRS, but needs assistance accessing or managing that account, there are avenues you can take to help. Those avenues include an ASRS “Authorization to Release Information” form, Power Of Attorney, or a Conservatorship. Here’s a brief look at each and the differences between them.

Let’s start with the easiest option first: the “Authorization to Release Information” form. This is a form available from the ASRS in which an ASRS member gives us permission to release account information to a designated individual or organization. If you are a member and you’d like to provide your spouse, financial planner, or other family member with this access, you can fill out the authorization to release information form, which can be accessed through your secure myASRS account. That individual won’t be able to make changes to the account, but they will be provided information associated with the account.

Note that this is only an option for members who can legally still make decisions on their own behalf. A word of caution: Anyone you list on this form will have access to your personal information! In the interest of privacy, we highly recommend you limit this access to as few people as needed.

That brings us to Power Of Attorney (POA), and the difference between it and a Conservatorship. While both will require some level of legal assistance to get setup, there are significant differences. In broad terms, POA is generally for someone who can still make decisions on their own, but authorizes someone else to make decisions on their behalf as well. A conservatorship is for those who cannot legally make decisions any longer, as determined by the courts or medical professionals.

For example: if you care for someone, they can still make decisions on their own, but they’d like assistance managing their account, you would need power of attorney. If you care for someone who has a mental or physical disability and they’ve been deemed legally unable to make decisions on their own, you would need a conservatorship. (Please note: It’s best to consult a legal professional to fully understand the subtleties between the two and what is best for your situation. The ASRS is not able to provide legal counsel or decide for you which may be the correct or best route to take.)   

A helpful tip: To be accepted by the ASRS, POA forms not only require a witness signature, but also requires the notary to acknowledge the witness by name – not just reference them as “the above named person.” It’s a small detail, but one easily overlooked that can cause unnecessary steps.

Finally, it’s possible that we may also need a note from a physician for the person in question. Sometimes a person may have a power of attorney that doesn’t go into effect until the person is considered “incapacitated” – a determination made by a physician, not the ASRS. If that is the case, we’ll need the physician’s note along with the POA form.

For any additional questions you may have about the ASRS, please visit us at AzASRS.gov.

Nathaniel Brengle, Strategic Communications

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