How can I legally manage my mother's funds while she's in a coma?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother was recently put into an induced coma so that the doctors can find out why she's having recurring pneumonia which recently put into respiratory arrest. How can I legally manage her funds for paying bills, etc. when I don't currently have access to her bank account? I'm 18 and still a student, she's my primary caregiver.

Expert Answer

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

Your question implies that your mother did not have a Durable Power of Attorney which is a document that would have easily and without court involvement provided you with the authority to act on your mother's behalf in regard to her financial affairs.

Therefore your only option is to go to court and be appointed as your mother's guardian so that you can make both health decisions on her behalf and manage her finances.  In a situation, such as yours, the law provides for you to be appointed quickly on a temporary basis while your petition to be appointed on a more long-term basis is pending.  This is not something that you can do by yourself.  I strongly urge you to contact a lawyer to help you with this.