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How to Get Power of Attorney for Your Mother

By Roger Thorne J.D. ; Updated June 13, 2017

As parents get older, there comes a time when you have to start planning for end of life decisions. One common way an elderly parent can prepare is by granting her children power of attorney, the legal right to make decisions on the parent's behalf. Your mother can grant anyone power of attorney, and you can only receive it if your mother chooses to grant it of her own free will. The steps required to obtain power of attorney apply to everyone, regardless of sex.

Talk to your mom about power of attorney and how she can use it to ensure that her wishes are met. Your mom can only grant you power of attorney if she is of sound mind, meaning she cannot have been judged legally incapable of granting consent or have a medical condition that prevents her from granting it.

Write it down. You must convey power of attorney through a written document. Your mother doesn't have to write it herself, but it must be written down and signed by her. Power of attorney (POA) forms can be found online (see resources). Some states require the POA to be notarized and even witnessed, depending on the kind of power being conveyed. The POA must also detail what powers your mother grants to you. These can be as limited or as broad as she wants.

Name the parties and the powers granted. As the person granting you the power, your mother is known as the principal, while you are known as the agent or attorney-in-fact. Make sure the POA document states this clearly. Your mother can also name alternate agents.

Detail springing powers. A POA can take effect immediately upon your mom signing it or become effective at some later date, called springing power of attorney. If your mother, for example, wants you to make health care decisions for her if she ever becomes so sick that she can no longer make them, the POA can be made to spring into effect once a physician determines that your mother can no longer make her own health care decisions.

Detail durable powers. If your mother wants you to act as agent even if she becomes sick or no longer able to make choices, the POA must be made durable. A non-durable POA terminates as soon as the principal becomes incapacitated, while a durable POA allows the agent to continue acting even if this incapacitation occurs. Make sure the POA states whether or not it is durable.

Tips

Talk to a lawyer. Each state has its own laws about powers of attorney, what they can be used for and how they must be created. Talk to a qualified attorney in your state to make sure the powers of attorney meet all requirements and protect your mother's interests.

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