Right to the Point with Joy Loverde – Part VII

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by Joy Loverde

Question:

I've been driving my mom’s vehicle for the past two years, and I take her wherever she needs to go. As her power of attorney (POA), since she is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s, she will never drive again.

Can I put my name on the title of the car?  Can I give my mom’s grandchildren gifts from her funds as her POA? I can't give myself a gift?  As the POA, do I have the authority to change the beneficiary on insurance policies?  POA forms purchased in an office supply store have been signed by both parties, notarized, and registered in the court building. Is it legal?

Answer:

A power of attorney designation is indeed a far reaching and powerful document, and yet there are always going to be myriad issues about its limitations. Of all the questions you ask, the one that stuck out the most was this one... Is my power of attorney legal? I’d hate to have you learn the hard way that it is not, and this is in fact the chance you took by purchasing forms at an office supply store instead of seeking the advice of an attorney.

For starters, the timing of when the documentation was prepared is critical to whether or not your power of attorney will hold up in court. Was it before or after your mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s? Do yourself a favor and seek the advice of an attorney. To locate an elder law attorney, contact this organization:

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
1604 North Country Club Road
Tucson, AZ 85716
(520) 881-4005, Fax: (520) 325-7925

Website: www.naela.org

Question:

Father needs power of attorney for incompetence but unwilling to do so.  What do we do when he is not paying bills?

Answer:

If your father’s incompetence can be established medically then it matters not if he is against your involvement. Discuss your concerns with your father’s primary physician. Regarding your father not paying bills, you are under no obligation to pay them with your own money in his behalf.

The next step is to begin a court proceeding for guardianship (not power of attorney). Establishing yourself as your father’s guardian will allow you access and control of your father’s assets in which to pay his bills. Also, guardianship of your father may include assisting him with his personal well being.


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