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If you are someones power of attorney for health care are you legally responsible for their health and well being

Clinton, TN |

we have a family member that gave her son power of attorney for health care and general power of attorney we have tried to seek help because she does not want to take care of herself and refuses to see a rd and says she cant eat she wants to live on ensure we have tried everything that we know of and have tried to get her the help that she needs but everywhere we have been they say that there is nothing wrong with her can we be help responsible if she refuses to eat and something bad happens

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Attorney answers 3


Here is a starting point for you.

The fact that someone has been appointed POA doesn't require them to act. They can always refuse to act.

You might think about filing for a conservatorship if she can't (and won't) take care of herself. You'll need a lawyer to help you with this. We handle them in our office.

Good luck.

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No-but the person has a "moral responsibility".
If they do not want the responsibilty-they should have the document revoked.
The POA should be reissued or a guardianship started.

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.


Most health care powers of attorney do not take effect until the person involved becomes incapable of making or expressing a decision about their health care needs. Not a good (versus a bad) decision - any decision. They are usually also written so a health care provider / physician needs to make the "incapacity" determination.

Sounds like that hasn't happened in the case you describe and that health care providers have examined your family member without finding her "incapable". If all that correct, she - note her POA - is still responsible for making her own decisions.

Also, no one can be forced to be a someone else's power of attorney - so if the possible responsibilities of serving in that role are making the son uncomfortable, it may be time to find someone else to serve.

Good luck - sounds like a challenging situation.

This response is intended to provide general information, but not legal advice. The response may be different if there are other or different facts than those included in the original question. See for more information on why this communication is not privileged or create an attorney-client relationship.

James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick


Very well said.

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