If your mother does not have a power of attorney naming you or someone else as her agent, in the event of incapacity you cannot now get a POA if she is in the condition you state. If she had capacity (which you state in your opinion she does not) she could sign a POA, but it is too late at this point. The only way to access her finances is for a court ordered guardianship to be started. You will need an attorney to assist you. Advance estate planning likely could have prevented this hassle and cost. Good luck to you in a tough situation.
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/
I agree with Mr. Zelinger. If your mother is incapacitated, the only way to be granted authority to access any of her accounts or assets is by petitioning the probate court in her county for guardianship.
You should seek out the assistance of a CA attorney to help you navigate the rules and procedures of guardianship.
Hope this helps.
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I am sorry that you find yourself in this position.
I agree with both of my colleagues. I would simply add that in California, a guardian only handles the affairs of minors. A conservator deals with the affairs of incapacitated adults. A Conservator of the Person oversees the personal affairs of the incapacitated adult. A Conservator of the Estate deals with the financial affairs of the incapacitated adult. Conservators are appointed through probate court proceedings. You need to retain an attorney to assist you, particularly since you are geographically so distant. In fact, given the distance, you *MAY* want to consider if there is someone based closer to your mother who would be in a better position to handle these matters for her.
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As the other attorneys stated, it sounds like your mother does not have capacity to sign a Power of Attorney. In order to gain access to the accounts, you will need to petition the court through the probate process. Since your mother is in Orange County, the conservatorship should be established there. The Orange County court website has helpful information on conservatorships including what to expect, the process to establish the conservatorship, and the requirements to maintain the conservatorship.
As the other attorney suggested, it is highly recommended that the conservator live close to the conservatee. The conservator is required to make some appearances in court and will also be required to attend conservator training.