My dad has Dementia/Alzheimer's disease. I'm trying to complete a living will and power of attorney document to make decisions on his behalf. How can I get them certified when he can't signed them due to a stroke?
Family Law Attorney
The question is not so much whether he can physically sign it, an X will do if that is his intent. The question is whether he has the capacity to understand the power that he is giving you. Generally, an attorney can meet with him and determine that. The legal standard is fairly low compared to the capacity needed to sign a contract, for instance.
You need to contact an attorney. If he does not have the capacity, you would need to move to guardianship proceedings. These can be very emotional especially if there are siblings or other family members who may dispute what you are doing.
I'm sorry for your circumstances. Unfortunately, if your father lacks the mental capacity needed to sign a power of attorney, then you will need to petition a probate court in his state of residence to be appointed as his fiduciary. In some states, the fiduciary is called a "conservator", while in others the fiduciary is known as a "guardian." Please discuss this matter with an experienced attorney in your father's state of residence. Good luck to you.
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The question is about his mental capacity to sign a legal document.
If he has not been declared incompetent and can understand a legal document-someone can help him sign.
If he is not capable of understanding-you will need a guardianship proceeding.
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.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
If your father lacks legal capacity to give you a POA and "living will" he cannot do so. Incidentally living wills have been largely superceded in Georgia by health care directives.
POAs need to be done when people are young and healthy. Sit down with a lawyer (even if he has mental capacity these are NOT do it yourself forms) and determine if you may need other alternatives such as a guardianship/conservatorship, or if the mental capacity is adequate, how you can deal with the need for a signature (in Georgia an X can be a signature).
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As the others have stated, he has to be able to understand what he is signing, so having him mark an X in the presence of an attorney who has net with him would be best. Even if he has dementia, such documents can be signed during what is called a lucid interval, but you would want good witnesses present in case someone tries to use his dementia to challenge any actions you subsequently take. I would recommend a durable power of attorney for healthcare instead of a living will, as such deals not only with life sustaining treatment issues, but general medical decisions as well. Finally, if he is not competent enough to sign a power of attorney, seek to become his guardian through the local probate court.
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I agree with the earlier answers. However, an attorney, while they may be able to get an idea of the level of competence your father, the safest way for the documents to be protected from future challenges is to have a medical professional perform an appropriate compentency assessment, document it, and if the assessment shows dad is competent, to execute documents as soon after the assessment as possible.
Everyone's legal situation is different. Comments here do not constitute attorney-client privilege or legal advice to your specific situation. Contact your own attorney.
I agree with all my colleagues but just want to add one point on the "risk" of having Dad execute in a lucid moment (if any). It would be advisable to have the signing witnessed by a medical professional and visually recorded so that you can prove he was sufficiently competent to understand what he was signing and what the purposes of the document is all about. A picture says a 1,000 words but a videotape will be worth 1 million words under your circumstances.
My answer is not intended to be giving legal advice and this topic can be a complex area where the advice of a licensed attorney in your State should be obtained.