jamarshall Asked March 2016

What is involved in getting power of attorney to make decisions for my mother?


My Mother is 83 has Sun Down Syndrome and possible further dementia, also in a wheelchair, has severe arthritis, and has day and night time hallucinations. I have had her to several doctors and her eldercare physican suggested I get power of attorney in case a situation should arrive that needed a decision for her well being. I have kept her at home for l0 years now and fear that things may be heading downhill. Would appreciate your help in answering this question!

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Mar 2016
See an elder law attorney or estate attorney to have the papers drawn up. This is a must. Get both POAs - one for health care and one for finances. The sooner the better. It isn't a big deal to do - but immensely important.

Take care,
Helpful Answer (1)

jeannegibbs Mar 2016
Your mother has to sign papers that allow you to make decisions for her -- two kinds of forms, actually, one for financial decisions and one for medical decisions. She has to be able to understand what she is signing. It is OK for her to sign even if she has dementia, so long as she can comprehend the basic idea of allowing someone else to act on her behalf when she wants them to or when she cannot to it herself.

It is not very complicated, but because of the complication of dementia it would be best to have a lawyer who specializes in Elder Law to help you with it.
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Eyerishlass Mar 2016
It might be too late to obtain POA over your mother. She has to be lucid and be able to understand what she's signing. I would suggest that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.
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cetude Mar 2016
You definitely--absolutely--have to see an eldercare attorney.
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Ask you mom if you can be POA when she is having a good day,, Have a Docter or lawyer present,,, if she says yes in front of them,, they witness it,, If she can write she can sign the paper all the better than the lawyer can give you POA
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DownSouth Mar 2016
I just went through this with my mother, about a month prior to a diagnosis of early to mid stage dementia, she was able to understand in simple terms what she was signing - I told her that every time I had to talk on the phone to a bank or insurance company, etc. on her behalf that without the POA I was breaking the law and that it was necessary for legal reasons. The medical POA I told her it was so she didn't end up like her older sister, who is in a facility with feeding tubes because no one in her family cares to step up to the plate or has medical POA authority.

It did put my mother into a tizzy for about a week, she didn't want to think about her possible death or disability, but she did know what she was signing at the time.

The lawyer did a whole 5 document "estate" package, last will, financial POA, medical POA, Disposition of Remains and Pre-Need Guardian. I also did mine at the same time, so that I don't but my daughter through this caregiver nightmare when I get older.

I was in the room when the attorney went over all the papers, which we had reviewed at home, and then I had to leave the room while she signed them, because I was being named the "person of authority" (as my mother calls it now).

Good luck.
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hisdaughter Mar 2016
Whoever acts as the notary will have to ensure, and be willing to state in court, that at the time of the signing your Mother was fully aware of what she was signing and understood that you would be in control if she reached a certain point. Had to do this with my Dad, he was signing various papers in the hospital (insurance,etc) and was not lucid and we have to redo them once he came around. The POA is actually only two pages long generally and can be found, for some states, online, you simply input your own, and your Mother's information. However, you must have someone there to notarize the fact that she is signing the paper. If she is unable to sign then you will need to be granted POA through your local legal system. Good Luck.
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TheOne1 Mar 2016
I would have your mother's physicians write up health car summaries regarding her current mental state. I would also find a good elder law attorney and share those summaries with him/her. Let the attorney gauge how you should proceed forward along with your Mom's physicians. If you are an only child, this may not be such a difficult task - because you won't have others weighing in on the matter (siblings who disagree over things will make matters worse). Please make sure you consult with an elder law attorney. My understanding is that any lawyer can draw up a POA but you need guidance with elder law. Best of luck to you and your mom. XO
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JohnnyJ Mar 2016
Very good advice given so far. When my friends--the wife with diagnosed dementia and the husband still pretty much o.k.-- needed someone "in the wings" to help them in the future, my wife downloaded the two POA forms for finances and health decisions for Minnesota off the internet and the wife's cousin, a nurse professor, came up from Illinois to go through the forms with them. She got them notarized with them at their bank the next day. The forms gave me, as first power of attorney, complete authority for their finances and health care decisions. They also chose their preferences for extra-ordinary medical care choices like tube feeding, etc. The cousin made herself second power of attorney and another friend of theirs the third power of attorney. They have no children and no other family members close by or involved, so it is basically up to me. I am learning a lot, but take care of all the bill paying, insurance claims, etc. The husband now lives in a memory care apartment in an AL facility that provides excellent care. I now have to go through their condo and get rid of all the furniture and personal belongings--a long process--before I can sell their condo. The wife died last October from her fronto-temporal dementia and the husband's current doctor now uses the term Alzheimers. His short term memory is terrible, so the memory care apartment I found for him is just where he needs to be. He is happy there and has no idea of the amount of working being done on his behalf, but that's o.k. We've been friends for a long time and it is a privilege to be able to serve him. Because he was pretty coherent two years ago when this was done, we didn't need an elder attorney to do this. Your mom may be in a different state, though, so the advice about seeing an elder attorney first is wise advice. Download the forms first so you can see what they are like in case they bring to mind questions you might have. Using the bank notary made it easier for me to be put on their checking and saving accounts as their agent.
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helpmom Mar 2016
Sorry! (I hit the key too soon)
Basically this allowed me to pay her bills, sell assets, etc. You have to keep in mind that the POA requires you to act responsibly on making decisions. The document had to be signed by Mom in the presence of a Notary; no other witnesses were required

Medical POAs are a little more complicated and will require additional witnesses.

On the surface it looks like your situation will get more complicated going further so follow the advice you've already received in this forum and seek out an elder care attorney to help navigate the process.
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