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What type of Power of Attorney do I need to help my parent?

As you consider the types of help your ailing parent will need, you may want to first think about the type of Power of Attorney (POA) that will be required. For example, you may need a POA that specifically grants authority over financial matters if your parent needs you to take over management of their bank accounts. As you may have guessed, a Power of Attorney for finances will give you the right to make financial decisions on your parent’s behalf, while a Healthcare Power of Attorney will give you the right to make medical decisions on their behalf.

How do I get a Power of Attorney for my sick parent?

There are three ways you might get Power of Attorney for a sick parent. These include:

  • Your parent names you as an agent or attorney-in-fact in a valid Power of Attorney document. In order for your parent to grant you Power of Attorney, they must be of sound mind. The parent needs to understand what it truly means to sign over Power of Attorney, and the kind of decisions that may be made on their behalf. If the parent is of sound mind, they may sign over Power of Attorney.
  • Your parent grants you authority to make medical decisions on their behalf in a Living Will. If your parent is already mentally incapacitated, they may have already granted you (or another person) the necessary authority in a Living Will. In this case, you may not need to take further steps to gain Power of Attorney if you are only seeking the ability to make medical decisions. You may, however, need to locate the Living Will. Individuals who are on top of their estate planning typically have a single place where important documents are filed (including wills, trusts, and powers of attorney). Estate planning documents can also be found through an estate planning lawyer, if your parent had one, or by asking close relatives if they were given copies.
  • A court grants you a conservatorship. If your parent is already mentally incapacitated but hasn’t granted Power of Attorney to you, you’ll need to go before a judge to obtain conservatorship (or an adult guardianship). A conservatorship will grant you the right to make medical and financial decisions on your parent’s behalf. The clerk’s office at your county’s probate court can tell you how to initiate conservatorship proceedings.

When should I get help?

If your parent is already incapacitated and there is no Living Will or Power of Attorney in place, it may be wise to get help from a lawyer as soon as possible. Things can get complicated when important financial or medical decisions need to be made, but your loved one did not grant anyone the authority to make those decisions on their behalf. A Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney can help you sort through the steps needed to get proper legal authority in accordance with the laws in the appropriate state. 

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.


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