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How do I get a POA for someone who cannot sign?

Looking to get a POA for my wife with dementia, she can not sign her name any more. She has had it since 2011, a lawyer that I talked to said that it has to be signed by her, any help? Thanks
Status: Open    Mar 28, 2016 - 12:49 PM

Dementia, Elder Law

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Expert Answers

Mar 31, 2016 - 09:25 AM

Power of attorney laws vary from state to state but generally your wife is going to need capacity to understand the document. The capability of signing is another matter altogether. Something as simple as a mark can suffice for a signature on a power of attorney, but there are serious concerns about your wife's capacity to sign a document and that should be evaluated by an elder law attorney and perhaps a neuropsychologist.

Mar 31, 2016 - 11:32 AM

I think that ship has sailed. Now your only option is to ask the Court to appoint you as her Conservator and Guardian, (depending on the state law), which will give you the authority you need to do whatever you are wanting to do. I assume that you are trying to gain control of an IRA or 401(k) and without a POA you can't. With a conservatorship, you will be able to do just that.


Apr 01, 2016 - 10:15 AM

A power of attorney does not technically have to be signed by the grantor of the power, but they must have the requisite mental capacity in order to legally "sign" one. For example, a physically disabled client who cannot use their hands can direct someone to sign for them (or make an x) and it works if they have an understanding of what they are doing. If someone has advanced dementia and does not understand what they are doing, then it really doesn't work and you would have to get a court created guardianship. Good luck. I know you have a tough situation.

Apr 04, 2016 - 10:19 AM

The solution in this case is to apply for legal guardianship for your wife. To do so, you’ll need to provide documentation proving that she has been deemed incompetent. The approval process can be lengthy, but once the court evaluates your request and deems it legitimate, the court will appoint you as guardian for your wife, and you’ll be allowed to make decisions on her behalf.
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