When to Get Power of Attorney for a Sick Parent

On Behalf of | May 7, 2019 | estate planning


If your parent becomes ill, they may need help in the future making decisions on their behalf. One way you can help your parent is to become their power of attorney. Becoming your parent’s power of attorney gives you the authority to make legal decisions on their behalf.

The California estate planning attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver have many years of experience handling all kinds of issues related to estate planning, including drafting power of attorney agreements. If you want to become a power of attorney for your sick parent, we can help you draft a legal agreement that includes the specific terms you and parent wish to include. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal needs.

What is Power of Attorney?

There are two main types of power of attorney, durable and non-durable. The person giving someone else the power of attorney is called the principal, while the individual taking on the power of attorney for someone else is called the agent.

Durable Power of Attorney

If you become a durable power of attorney, you have the authority to continue acting on your parent’s behalf even if your parent becomes incapacitated. This gives you the ability to make decisions regarding your parent’s medical treatment, including whether or not to continue life support if that becomes a decision that must be made down the road. One type of durable power of attorney goes into effect only if your parent does become incapacitated and loses their ability to make important decisions. This is referred to as a “springing” power of attorney.

Non-durable Power of Attorney

A non-durable power of attorney is different from a durable power in that it does not give the agent the authority to act in the interests of the principal in the event the principal becomes incapacitated. This is a more general power of attorney where the agent is able to act as the principal’s legal representative on matters that the principal cannot tend to personally. It can be revoked at any time. If the principal becomes incapacitated at any time, then the non-durable power of attorney ends and is no longer valid.

In situations where a child is seeking to become power of attorney for their sick parent, generally, they should get a durable power of attorney. With a durable power of attorney, you are able to make the decisions for your sick parent that they may be unable to.

How Do I Become My Sick Parent’s Power of Attorney?

When the need arises for you to become a power of attorney for your sick parent, there are certain steps you must take to obtain this legal designation. First, you need to make sure that your parent is of sound mind. Your parent must have the mental capacity to understand what it means to give someone power of attorney. If your parent is already mentally incapacitated, you can file a motion with the court to request to be appointed as your parent’s conservator. This will need to be filed in probate court.

What to Include in a Power of Attorney Agreement

You and your parent can work together to decide on the specific details of the power of attorney agreement. Depending on what you both want to include, your power can be limited or broad. For example, your parent may choose to limit the power of attorney given to you to use include medical-related decisions, rather than giving you broad power to handle financial decisions and other important decisions that may arise.  Once you and your parent have an idea of what you would like to include, your attorney will draft a document for you and your parent to sign, setting forth the details of the agreement. 

Also, if you have no idea where to begin, you and your parent can meet with your attorney to discuss your goals regarding the power of attorney designation. Your attorney will help you and your parent create a power of attorney agreement that best suits your needs. Your power of attorney agreement will then need to be signed by both you and your parent and then notarized. It is important for both you and your parent to keep a copy of the agreement in a safe place so that if the need to use it arises, you will know how to proceed.

Our attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver are here to help you create a power of attorney agreement that will be helpful to you and your family. Contact our office at (707) 867-0787 to get started.

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