POA (and will) in VA
July 3, 2014 1:28 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend who lives in Virginia: my friend's mother has had a chronic illness for many years, and over the past year her health has begun to steadily decline, and she has been phasing in and out of bouts of dementia. Lately the bad days seem to be getting more and more frequent. No one has power of attorney at the moment; I'm trying to help him get it in place ASAP.

The problem is money; no one in the family has very much. My friend is living with and taking care of his mom as best he can, but he has no steady income. I know from my own experience that getting POA in place before his mom completely succumbs to dementia is crucial.

Google brought up this DIY site, but advice I read on this site tells me that the POA really should be set up by an attorney, or banks and other institutions may not accept it.

A will also needs to be made, ideally at the same time, but I think the POA is probably more urgent.

My questions are these:
1. do they really need a lawyer, or can this be done cheaply and effectively as DIY?
2. if lawyering is really the way to go, can anyone point me to affordable lawyers and/or services in Virginia? Pulaski County.

Thanks in advance!
posted by Koko to Law & Government (7 answers total)
Some legal aid organizations will assist with POAs and wills for free if you meet their income guidelines. I'm not personally familiar with Southwest Virginia Legal Aid, but it looks like they serve your area, so I'd give them a call and see if they can assist or direct you to someone who can.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:48 PM on July 3, 2014

Heath care power of attorney and/or advanced directives are usually less complex, and the form is often set or suggested by state statute. Here are some forms to use that are provided by the Virginia Bar. It includes an add-on that has special explicit provision for mental health issues that looks really well thought out, if your friend's parent is self-aware enough now to understand and accept that.

I know less about regular power of attorney forms. I would get the healthcare one done ASAP. You can always change/rescind if your lawyer advises you to. A lawyer's advice might also be useful with any steps needed to reinforce the power of attorney's validity because the parent is already having bouts of dementia. (Make sure you get witnesses, disinterested ones if possible, maybe a family doctor or a neighbor.).
posted by mercredi at 1:52 PM on July 3, 2014

Disclaimer that I work for LegalZoom, but I don't work in power of attorney, and I don't benefit from this in any way. It looks like they do healthcare power of attorney. Not sure what the turnaround time is. That could be a halfway between doing it entirely yourself and getting a lawyer.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:59 PM on July 3, 2014

You can absolutely DIY a POA. There are lots of reasonable examples online to crib from. Or, I bet if you ask friends or other family, they just might have a POA you can copy.

One thing you really, absolutely need to do, though, is sign the POA in front of a Notary. Once that's done, it's also a good idea to get the POA entered at the county Recorder's office.

If you stiff feel sheepish about going DIY, as insectosaurus suggests, there are almost certainly legal aid groups in the area who will do this dirt cheap, if not free, depending on income.

Good luck!
posted by Thorzdad at 3:07 PM on July 3, 2014

Have you called some lawyers to price this out in your area? It may be affordable.

I do estate work as a tiny piece of my practice, and my rates are in the mid hundreds for a basic estate package. If someone just wanted a medical POA, even with some specialized language to address the growing mental health concerns, I'd charge a few hundred bucks.
posted by freshwater at 5:07 PM on July 3, 2014

The tough part here will be capacity, I assume.
posted by jpe at 5:41 PM on July 3, 2014

Response by poster: He's going to need a POA that's more overarching than just health care; he'll need to be able to handle her financial matters as well. Is there one kind of POA that covers everything? Perhaps it might help if he talks to legal aid ....
posted by Koko at 6:56 PM on July 3, 2014

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