Can POA change when an Alzheimer's patient remarries?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 12, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My sister is dating a man with early Alzheimer's who has given POA to his daughter. The daughter has put him in an assisted living residence and has taken over his finances. If my sister were to marry him would she be able to become the POA to make medical or financial decisions?

Expert Answers

Frederick Hertz is a lawyer, mediator and author based in Oakland, California whose work focuses on property co-ownership and financial relationships between siblings, families, spouses and domestic partners, business partners, friends, and unmarried couples. He provides both transaction and negotiation counsel and also serves as a mediator and arbitrator in these areas.

This is an excellent question, and it involves both legal and inter-personal issues. From a legal standpoint the POA is probably still valid after a marriage - but its unusual for someone to "put" someone in a nursing home based upon a POA. That usually requires a conservatorship appointment. But in any event, the principal always has the right to revoke the POA so long as he is competent -- so there is an easy solution. If your sister's husband doesn't want his daughter to be making these decisions, he can revoke the POA and name your sister. So, in that sense your sister is able to become the attorney-in-fact. In addition, if she felt the daughter was doing something improper she has the right to file a court petition for conservatorship, which could override the POA. The broader issue is how is your sister going to navigate the decision making path with the daughter, to avoid major conflicts in the future. As her boyfriend declines the tensions will only increase, and she should use this situation as a platform for tackling the issues and potential disagreements in a constructive fashion. It may be wise to convene a family meeting, perhaps with a counselor or mediator, to work out an arrangement that respects their mutual concerns.