One of the most common times a durable power of attorney is necessary is when an elder suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s. A durable POA allows a trusted family member or friend to make certain medical and financial decisions on the behalf of the person who cannot in order to get them the care they need and make sure their assets are properly looked after.

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If you, your parent, or your spouse is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s important to consider creating a durable power of attorney form as soon as possible.

Creating a power of attorney


One crucial thing to know is that the person who is the grantor of the power of attorney---in this case, that means the person who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s---must be able to understand what they’re signing. This is to protect from instances of elder abuse, graft, and other crimes.

Sometimes, this power of attorney form is made “springing,” meaning it only goes into effect when the grantor can no longer demonstrate the ability to make these decisions.

That means that the agent will only act on the grantor’s behalf when the grantor’s ability to make key financial/health care decisions is in question. You may need a letter from a physician stating that you, your parent, or spouse parent can still understand what’s being signed for the power of attorney to be valid.

What happens if no power of attorney is created


If the person who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s can no longer make their own decisions, they are not legally able to sign a power of attorney form. That’s because this legal document gives the ability to make crucial decisions to another person and the grantor must fully understand what he or she is doing when signing a POA.

If a power of attorney can no longer be signed, you may be able to become a conservator. Conservators can act like a power of attorney agent, with the capability to make certain medical and financial decisions. But become a conservator takes time and sometimes involves a costly court procedure. That said, if you’re looking to aid a person who cannot make decisions for themselves, this court procedure is likely worth the effort. Just know that it can take awhile and it should be avoided if at all possible.

If you think you are a candidate for conservatorship, it’s recommended you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.

Additional power of attorney form references:

Get started Start Your Durable Power of Attorney Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Start Your Durable Power of Attorney Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.