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How do you activate a Power of Attorney for a relative with dementia?

Birmingham, AL |

My aunt lives in Alabama and has dementia. A doctor has signed an affidavit stating that she is not competent to handle her own affairs. She has lived alone in her own home, but recently became physically incapacitated and will need to go into a nursing home.

Her grandson lives in California and has her durable power of attorney. Does he need to go to court to activate the power of attorney, or does the POA document and the doctor's affidavit suffice to do such things as sell her house and take charge of her finances to pay for her care?

Does he need to hire an Alabama attorney?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    I agree with Attorney Pippen. The terms of the POA need to be reviewed to determine when it takes effect. As was pointed out, it may already be in effect. It is rarely necessary to go to the court to have a POA take effect as part of the motivation to execute a POA is to avoid the need for court.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!


  2. He should hire an Alabama attorney to review the document.
    POA's come in all shapes and sizes and have different clauses that
    control the actions that can be taken and when the authority starts.
    Many POA's can be used immediately upon signing
    and others are more restrictive.

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


  3. Attorneys Pippen and Frederick have given you good advice. Whether the POA has been activated depends upon what the document says. The written statement of one doctor may be sufficient to trigger authority under the document, but it may require two such certifications, or it may require certification by a particular type of doctor or one with a specific relationship to your aunt. Her grandson should retain the services of an attorney in Alabama. It will cost a lot less in the long run then trying to do it on your own and doing it wrong. As Attorney Frederick points out, the reason a person does a POA in the first place is to avoid the necessity of going to court.

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