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What are the required steps for durable power of attorney?

Sunnyvale, CA |

I am the sole caretaker of 81 year old mother. She has dementia and recently suffered a heart attack.
I need to take care of her financial affairs. She has limited assets and cannot afford an attorney. What do I need to do?

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Attorney answers 5


You need to get durable power of attorneys for healthcare and for her financial affairs. You can obtain pre-printed forms. If she is still cognizant of her surroundings and what she is doing do this immediately, because it must be notarized. If your mother is not easily mobile, there are notaries who will go to her home and witness the signature. Move quickly.

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If your mother has sufficient capacity to sign a durable power of attorney she should sign one naming you as her agent. If she does not have the capacity to sign a DPofA, you may have to look into a guardianship proceeding. Either way you will need legal assistance. (A DPofA is relatively inexpensive and well worth the money).

The above answer is not to be considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should consult your attorney for specific legal advice as to your individual situation.


Yes you can down load powers of attorney from the internet. In fact there is a free from in the California Probate Code. That said, just because you can do something does not mean that you should. If you mother has any assets and might be otherwise eligible for public benefits or Veterans Benefits, then you are going to do very well by going to see an Elder Law Attorney that is a member of Elder Counsel and/or the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Downloaded forms, do it yourself kits, and even powers of attorney drafted by attorneys that are not familiar with Elder Law issues usually do not include specific provisions that are necessary for Medi-Cal and VA planning. Your goals will be to protect the house from Medi-Cal recapture and also reduce your mom's share of cost if she ends up in a nursing home. If you mom was a Veteran your mom may qualify for just under $1200 a month towards her care at home or in an assisted living facility. You will need a local Elder Law Attorney to help you with this planning. It will probably be expensive, but the benefits will be well worth it. The costs of not seeing an attorney can be much higher.

Every situation is different, it is important to discuss your legal issue with a knowledgeable attorney in your jurisdiction. To schedule an appointment with me please contact me at 800 220-4205 or


I would call the local bar or providers of pro bono legal services and they will find a lawyer to take care of your matter.


Are you certain that she can not afford an attorney or do you just think she can't afford an attorney because attorneys are expensive? Getting a good powers of attorney prepaid by a knowledgeable and experienced elder law attorney doesn't usually cost much, especially when compared to the cost of fixing a situation caused by an inappropriate or bad Power of attorney document you get off the Internet. You could expect to pay way less than a dollar a day spread out for a year to get a good set of documents you can rely upon.

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Justin Eric Elder

Justin Eric Elder


Excellent point. A good power of attorney would not cost that much to prepare, but the consequences of a bad one would costs thousands of dollars to fix.

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