Answer: Assuming you have a valid financial or general power of attorney that complies with state law, you need to check the document. When does the document say the power is effective? Some are effective immediately upon signing it. In that case, you can use the power right now. She may, however, try to revoke it.
Most powers of attorney, however, are considered “springing.” That means the power of attorney is effective upon some triggering event, usually incapacity. The document should say how incapacity will be determined. For example, some say that the principal (the person who signed the power of attorney) must be determined to be incapacitated by two physicians. If such a requirement is in the document, then you will need written statements from the physicians stating that she cannot manage her financial affairs. Those statements should be kept with the power of attorney and made a part of it.
Remember that financial institutions may not accept the power of attorney. Some will not accept a power that is a certain number of years old. Others will look for certain clauses that may or may not me in your document. And some financial institutions seem to give people a hard time just because. It is very difficult to try to force a financial institution to accept a power of attorney.
If your power of attorney turns out to be ineffective for whatever reason, you may need to petition the court for a conservatorship.
Ronald Zack, Esq.
If you need answers to your elder care questions, send your questions to us at:
Answers are provided by our ElderCare Matters Partners, some of America's TOP Elder Care Professionals who have years of experience in helping families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care / Senior Care Services.
All Q&A's are posted on the homepage of ElderCareMatters.com
If you help familes plan for or deal with elder care matters, then you owe it to yourself and to families across America to become a professional member of the National ElderCare Matters Alliance and to be listed on the many Elder Care / Senior Care Directories that are sponsored by this National Alliance of Elder Care Professionals.
For additional information about professional membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, (including the many benefits of becoming one of our ElderCare Matters Partners) and to download an Application for your Basic, Premium or Partner Membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, visit: ElderCare Matters Alliance.