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How to obtain a Power of Attorney
November 7, 2010 9:08 PM   Subscribe

Do I need an attorney to obtain a Power of Attorney?

My mother is having a medical procedure that could put her out of commission for a while. She is also in bad health. She's requested that I should have Power of Attorney, specifically for all of her financial matters.

Doing a little research it seems that an attorney is not needed. I can download a form such as this one and have it signed in front of a notary.

I'd like to make sure that I'm going about this the right way. If it would be better to use an attorney, I will. Of course, I'd rather not if at all possible

Any advice by anyone that has obtained a power of attorney in the U.S. would be greatly appreciated.
posted by gtr to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
yes. I'm representing a client in a multi jurisdiction, multiple case matter involving a power of attorney. Yes. please god, yes, have your mom spend the money on the attorney. A power of attorney is a powerful document and your duties are fiduciary. Don't blow this one. Your mom should pay for it.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:33 PM on November 7, 2010


I don't know if it's required, but I got Power of Attorney for my dad via my dad's lawyer, who had both of us sign in front of a notary. To be honest, even if the attorney wasn't required, I felt better having him involved, because my dad was also ill (in the hospital at the time) and it made me feel more comfortable to have the attorney involved.
posted by bedhead at 9:35 PM on November 7, 2010


I had it granted upon me, and my mother did it through an attorney. He was also the attorney I used after she passed away; it was nice to have someone already familiar with the situation at hand to help me navigate the process. God forbid anything happens, if she wants you to have power of attorney, you should start to get a lawyer on hand.
posted by griphus at 9:40 PM on November 7, 2010


I am not your lawyer
I am not your doctor
I am not your power of attorney (and good thing too or I would donate all your assets to my favorite charity)

Your form, which I have not looked at, is likely to be as effective and valid as any you get from an attorney. You do not "need" an attorney for this. On the other hand this is a low fee product from an attorney, you will get advice on the power of this document, it will be done correctly, and a power prepared by an attorney will have a slightly better chance of surviving a challenge due to capacity merely from the fact that the attorney perceived that the client had the capacity to execute the document or the attorney could not have otherwise in good conscience and for other career limiting reasons prepared the document. If you are dirt poor I would take your chances and not worry too much, but if you have a few hundred dollars for this I would go with an attorney. While you are at it consider getting healthcare power of attorney and a living will.
posted by caddis at 10:11 PM on November 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I know it wasn't your question, but if your mom is having a major medical procedure, you should go look at a healthcare power of attorney/healthcare proxy/POLST (Physician Orders for LifeSaving Treatment - I like this one because it's very clear to doctors). I am a physician, and if only everyone had one of these, it would make our jobs so much easier.

Unless you are 100% clear on what your mom would want in a given healthcare situation, and you are the next of kin, get one of these documents. I think it's just as important as what should be done with the finances, to think about what should be done with the ventilator/tracheostomy/feeding tube/chest compressions. I think you should go to an attorney and get these documents cranked out. I've seen badly done healthcare proxy documents (i.e. "if and only if I have been determined to have zero chance of living by three independent physician evaluations and declared brain dead by EEG, then no heroic measures should be taken to prolong my life." - what!?) and so I think it is worth getting the things done right, and this gives you another reason to use an attorney, because you can get two important things accomplished at once.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:35 PM on November 7, 2010


if there are financial affairs that need to be taken care of beyond bills, there are likely funds to pay an attorney. do it.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:45 PM on November 7, 2010


On the other hand this is a low fee product from an attorney, you will get advice on the power of this document, it will be done correctly, and a power prepared by an attorney will have a slightly better chance of surviving a challenge due to capacity merely from the fact that the attorney perceived that the client had the capacity to execute the document or the attorney could not have otherwise in good conscience and for other career limiting reasons prepared the document.

put another way, someone's ass will be on the hook if it goes wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:46 PM on November 7, 2010


Thank you everyone for being so helpful. I appreciate all the advice. I'll visit an attorney in the morning.

(for those asking, I am taking care of the medical side also.)
posted by gtr at 10:52 PM on November 7, 2010


For the record, when I got POA for my father, I just downloaded something off the internet and filled in the relevant bits (name, addresses, etc), along with adding a bit about how any copies would count as an original document (so that I could make copies instead of getting a billion notarized). You can personalize it however fits your needs -- it's just a document that you and the other party have agreed to this, that, and the other -- the notarized part is to legally prove the other party is mentally capable and in agreement with the document, which is all anyone needs to know -- if your mom wants to legally note that you can braid purple knitted monkeys into her hair each week, it's no one else's place to argue with that, providing a notary has deemed she's fit and willingly signed the form. The notary at a hospital in MD notarized it in my fathers room for no charge. I was able to use that document/copies of it to get myself added to his bank account and take care of all his affairs in MD and PA with no trouble at all.
posted by MeiraV at 9:22 AM on November 8, 2010


nomenclature filter: a "power of attorney" is an authorization, usually a written notarized document, for one (an agent) to act on behalf of another (the principal). The agent is the "attorney" or "attorney-in-fact" (as opposed to attorney-at-law). One is not another's "Power of Attorney"....that is the name of the authorization, but even estate planning lawyers refer to the agent as the POA. (Argh.)
Good luck with your situation.
posted by Jezebella at 8:55 PM on November 8, 2010


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