Is it difficult to make a power of attorney for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's?
It is not necessarily more difficult to make a power of attorney for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's, but there is one crucial thing to know. The person who is the grantor of the power of attorney — in this case, the person who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's — must be able to understand what they are signing in order to create a valid POA. This is to protect the grantor from instances of elder abuse, graft, and other crimes. Making sure the POA is legal in this situation can be tricky. You may need a letter from a physician stating that the grantor can still understand what is being signed for the power of attorney to be valid.
If the grantor is still able to understand what they are signing, why would they need a power of attorney? It makes sense to make a power of attorney before the grantor loses the ability to sign and create a legal one. Sometimes, in these situations, a power of attorney is made "springing," meaning it only goes into effect when the grantor can no longer demonstrate the ability to make these decisions. In this case, the person who is granted authority to make decisions for the grantor can only do so when the grantor's own abilities come into question.
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 document. That's because this legal document grants important decision-making authority to another person, and so the grantor must fully understand what they are doing when signing the POA.
If a power of attorney can no longer be granted because the grantor does not have the legal capacity to sign the document, you might consider a conservatorship. Conservators can act like a power of attorney agent, with the ability to make certain medical and financial decisions. Becoming a conservator, however, takes time and sometimes involves a costly court procedure. That said, if you're looking to provide substantial support for a person who cannot make decisions for themselves, this court procedure might be worth the effort. Just know that it can require a significant amount of effort and should be avoided if at all possible because it is a highly invasive option compared to a power of attorney.
If you think a conservatorship could be the right solution, you may want to speak with a lawyer first in order to fully understand what a conservatorship would mean in your particular situation.
Additional power of attorney resources:
- What is a power of attorney?
- What is a durable power of attorney?
- Living will vs. healthcare power of attorney
- What happens if you don't have a power of attorney?
- Make a power of attorney
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.