How do I get power of attorney for my mother with dementia?

Rossanajohn asked...

How do I obtain power of attorney for my mother if she has already been diagnosed with dementia? She is in the early stage of dementia.

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.

Whether you can obtain a power of attorney for your mother may depend more specifically on her mental condition.

There is a legal requirement that the person for whom a power of attorney is made must be "of sound mind." This mental competency requirement isn't too onerous to meet, but can be elusive to some people suffering from dementia. Generally, the competency requirement mandates that a person must be able to understand what a power of attorney is and does--and must also be able to understand that he or she is making one.

If your mother's condition does not allow her to meet this standard, your alternative would be to secure a legal guardianship or conservatorship for her--a procedure that takes more time and effort. If this might be an option for you, consult your local probate court for more information.

For more on guardianships and conservatorships, see Conservatorship and Adult Guardianship: A Beginner's Guide.