(Not lost but not easily found in mounds and mounds of paperwork). No certified copies were made. Original was not filed with court clerk. Plain copy cannot be filed with court clerk and some institutions require seeing the originally-executed POA. LO can no longer, legally, execute a new POA. Is there any recourse at all in such a situation (other than going to the expense of guardianship, which may not work at this point anyway)?

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Generally, only the original with the notary stamp (no copies, not even certified) will be accepted by any financial institution. In some areas but not all, the original also needs to have been filed with the county clerk at the time of its execution. You can check your local county laws on whether the POA needs to have also been filed with the clerk or not.

The exception is if you need to work with an out of state bank (such as credit card banks that are mainly never near you)...nearly all of which will accept a certified copy (not just a photocopy).

Without the original and with no certified copies I believe you will not find anyone to work with you. You may need to pursue guardianship...but if i were you I'd start digging through the mounds.

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