Can my husband be added to Mom's POA?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 02, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I hold the power of attorney and medical power of attorney for my mother. My brother was also named on the document but died in March of this year. My mom suffers with Alzheimer's. Can my husband be added to the documents since he helps me care for her and if something happens to me there would be no one named to take care of her? If so how do we go about doing that? Is it something we can do with documents found online?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

You are to be applauded for going the extra miles to make sure your mother's powers of attorney are as complete and effective and up to date as possible. However, whether your husband can be added as a back-up or successor agent depends on your mother's specific mental condition, since she must finalize the document.

There's a legal requirement that the person making a power of attorney must be "of sound mind." This mental competency requirement isn't too onerous to meet, but it can be elusive for some people suffering from dementia. To satisfy the standard, your mother must be able to understand what a power of attorney is and does -- and must also be able to understand that she is making one.

If your mother is willing and able to make this change, it should be an easy matter to do so. It is possible to amend the documents, but the cleaner approach"”and the one least likely to arouse suspicions from medical practitioners"”would be for your mother to complete and sign a new power of attorney, substituting your husband's name for your brother's.

You would also need to comply with finalization requirements in your state that mandate that the new power of attorney forms must be signed and witnessed"”and in some cases, notarized. Those specific requirements should be clear by looking at the form itself.