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How to Get Power of Attorney for Someone Who is Incapacitated

You’ve found yourself in a situation where a loved one is incapacitated and unable to manage their own affairs, leading you to consider Power of Attorney (POA).

You’re likely feeling overwhelmed by the gravity of this responsibility, but your desire to help those in need shows your compassion and commitment.

This article aims to empower you with knowledge about obtaining POA for someone who is incapacitated so that you can confidently navigate this legal terrain while serving your loved one’s best interests.

In the following sections, we will explore what POA entails – its legalities, implications, and how our estate planning attorneys can help.

Understanding the Legalities of POA

You’ll need to understand that gaining the power of attorney (POA) for someone incapacitated isn’t just about filling out a form; it’s navigating through complex legal waters, often filled with clauses and conditions that can make your head spin.
The first step is understanding POA misconceptions.

One common misconception is that one type of POA covers all situations, which, unfortunately, isn’t the case. Different types of POAs serve different purposes and are activated under different circumstances. For instance, a durable power of attorney remains in effect even if the individual becomes mentally incapacitated – this would be crucial in our scenario. On the other hand, a limited or specific power of attorney gives authority only for specific transactions or periods.

Knowing these differences helps you select the kind of POA that meets your needs and those of the person you care for. However, keep in mind that laws regarding executors vary by state or country; hence it’s advisable to consult with an experienced lawyer before taking steps toward obtaining a POA.

Furthermore, setting up a POA doesn’t mean undermining their decision-making capacity but rather preparing to support them when they can no longer make decisions independently due to illness or incapacity. It’s about ensuring their wishes are followed responsibly and respectfully should they become unable to do so themselves.

Determining the Level of Incapacity

Before anything else, it’s crucial to assess the degree of cognitive impairment or physical disability your loved one is experiencing. This process, known as an Incapacity Assessment, involves examining their ability to understand and make decisions about their personal care, finances, and legal matters.

Mental Health Laws differ by state but generally dictate that only a qualified health professional can conduct this assessment. It’s important to note that incapacity isn’t measured by someone’s physical abilities but rather by their mental capacity to make informed decisions.

The next step after understanding the level of incapacity is determining whether they meet the legal definition of ‘incapacitated.’ This typically requires proving in court that your loved one lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make responsible decisions concerning their person or property due to a mental disorder or other health issue.

A detailed medical report from the professional conducting the Incapacity Assessment will be critical evidence for this process. Remember, acquiring power of attorney for someone incapacitated is not about taking control away; it’s about ensuring they have the necessary support when dealing with complex legal matters during challenging times.

Initiating the Legal Process for Establishing a POA

When initiating the legal process to get power of attorney for someone incapacitated, it requires detailed document preparation and a comprehensive understanding of guardianship alternatives.

The process may seem intimidating at first glance, but breaking it down into manageable steps can make it less daunting.

Here are four simple steps you must follow:

  1. Identify an Attorney: Choose an attorney specializing in estate planning or elder law. They’ll guide you through the necessary protocols and paperwork.
  2. Prepare Necessary Documents: Your attorney will help prepare documents such as durable power of attorney forms, healthcare proxy forms, and living wills.
  3. Court Petition: In cases where the person is fully incapacitated without existing legal documents like a power of attorney, you may need to petition for guardianship or conservatorship in court.
  4. Consider Guardianship Alternatives: If getting full guardianship seems too restrictive or problematic, discuss other options, including limited guardianship or supported decision-making agreements with your lawyer.

Remember that this process isn’t only about protecting their financial assets and safeguarding their personal dignity and autonomy as much as possible in these difficult circumstances.

Managing Responsibilities as a POA

As the appointed decision-making authority for someone incapacitated, you must manage their financial affairs and personal care decisions. This includes paying bills, overseeing investments, making medical decisions, or choosing living arrangements on their behalf. You’ll be required to act in this person’s best interest at all times, putting aside your own interests if necessary.

It’s essential to maintain transparency in all actions as a POA—keeping proper records of transactions made on behalf of the individual is not just good practice; it’s legally mandated in most jurisdictions.

Additionally, consult with professionals such as lawyers or financial advisors when needed to ensure you’re making sound decisions that comply with legal requirements and are in the best interest of the person you represent.

At Cary Estate Planning, we help clients establish an estate plan prior to becoming incapacitated. It is always beneficial to get your estate plan done ahead of these unforeseeable and unfortunate situations. Estate planning is best done sooner than later to define someone’s wishes more clearly.

While there are options when someone is incapacitated, the process is more complex. Our team is here to provide trusted guidance with what estate planning option best serves our clients where they are now, based on their specific situation and the nature and scope of where they are in their planning.

Contact us now for a consultation.

Author Bio

Paul Yokabitus

Paul Yokabitus is the CEO and Managing Partner of Cary Estate Planning, a Cary, NC, estate planning law firm. With years of experience in estate and elder law, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including estate planning, guardianship, Medicaid planning, estate administration, and other cases.

Paul received his Juris Doctor from the Campbell University School of Law and is a North Carolina Bar Association member. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Best Attorney in Cary” in 2016 and 2017 by Cary News and Rising Star in 2020-2023 by Super Lawyers.

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