How can I get power of attorney over my coma induced wife?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My wife was coma induced recently and in checking our bills, I found a bill I wasn't familiar with and they will provide me with no information without a power of attorney. As my wife cannot sign a power of attorney, how do I obtain one in order to deal with this bill and possibly others as I find them.

Expert Answer

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 cannot obtain a power of attorney over someone who is not mentally competent to complete one.

If your wife's condition persists, it may be worth your while to get a temporary guardianship or conservatorship from the local superior or probate court. That would likely give you the authority to manage your wife's financial matters while she is unable to do so on her own.

In the meantime, however, if there is just that one bill you are concerned about, you may consider attempting to deal with it more informally. Call the company and ask to speak with a customer service supervisor. If you are not given enough information to determine whether you want to pay the bill on your own, at least request that the company note your inquiry"”and send written confirmation of the contact and its resolution.

That way, you should at least prevent the charge from incurring late fees or ruining credit"”and you will likely be able to resolve the matter in calmer times.

You may also wish to contact other known creditors on accounts your wife holds in her own name and ask for a suspended payment plan.