My mom is in the last stage of parkinsons disease and needs 24/7 care. I am unable to provide the care she needs because I have to work. She does not have enough money to pay for round the clock care. She needs to be in a facility because she cannot be left alone, but she is unwilling to go. I have tried getting help from her doctor,social workers,etc. , but no one will do anything against her will. I need to know if there is a way to get a medical power of attorney so that I can make the proper healthcare decisions to get her the care she needs and keep her safe. She is not willing to sign it over to me. Thank you for any help you can give me.
POA whether medical or financial can be obtained only if given voluntarily. If a person needs care but isn't competent a court appointed guardian can make health care decisions. Consult a local elder law attorney for details.
Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law Foundation, former Chair NJ State Bar Association Elder and Disabilities Law Section, Member Board of Consultors of NJSBA Real Property, Trusts & Estates Law Section, Vice Chair Special Needs Law Section of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation from N.Y.U. School of Law. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com for articles and Q&A on elder law, special needs, wills, trusts, estates, and tax. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com/blog and subscribe for free timely updates to be delivered to your inbox. Information on both Avvo and SpecialNeedsNJ.com does not constitute legal advice, as it is general in nature and may not apply to your situation or be subject to important changes. No attorney client relationship exists unless set forth in written engagement terms.
I agree with my colleagues. If your mom is unwilling to grant POA, then there is no other way to legally get it. Your mother sounds very strong-willed and determined, which could work against her, as her condition deteriorates. If you are unable to persuade her, you have two options: 1) if you feel she is a danger to herself or others, then you may need to file to become her guardian/conservator. It is likely to be a contested proceeding and it will probably be a frustrating and contentious process. If your mother is in that position, however, you may have little choice. 2) If your mother will not properly plan her estate, then you need to be ultra vigilant. You can help her and watch out for her, even without legal authority. You will need to know at what point she can no longer get by without help. Once that time comes, probate proceedings will be required.
The third option is to continue to try to persuade her to do the right thing. You can bring her articles on estate planning, take her to see a lawyer, etc. You are in a difficult position and you are not likely to get any thanks from your mother for your concerns. You need to chalk that up to her illness/personality, and just know that you are doing the best you can to watch out for her.
As the other attorneys have said, a person who is competent to manage their own affairs and make their own decisions cannot be "made" to go into a facility. You've said it, she's not willing to go and therefore she's not willing for you to make that choice that she wouldn't choose for herself. It's tough to say, but like it or not a person who is competent is allowed to make decisions that are not good for their health. If she is completely unrealistic about what her needs are, however, then this raises an orange flag about her competence to make the decision. There is also a very challenging mental and spiritual process of coming to grips with one's own serious or terminal illness, with various stages of acceptance and grief. I would strongly suggest that you and your Mom consider going together to see a family therapist (counselor). This person may help both of you gain more clarity and insight about what is happening. Another suggestion would be for the two of you to see a mediator on the chance that through mediation you and she could both not only see the other side more clearly but also reach an agreement about what is needed to address the safety and health needs not only while you work, but also as you tend to your own needs in your own life. And finally, contact your local area agency on aging to see if there are some community care resources that might be of assistance. Adult daycare is one thing that comes to mind. These are starting points and do not take the place of legal advice. An elder law attorney will be able to point you to more resources, and I do follow in the steps of the other attorneys and suggest that you speak with an attorney who focuses their practice in elder law.
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