what do i need to do

my father passed leaving is will give every thing to my mother she is 88 years old and has had a stroke leaving her unable to sign her name she is now in the beginning stage of altimerzie what do I need to do to take care of her and dads affairs . there are 4 children 3 leaving out off state. just me her to take care of her

Asked on December 21, 2017 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If she is still mentally competent and can communicate (even if physically disabled), she can execute a power of attorney (POA) to give you the power to make finacial decisions for her, manage her property and accounts, pay her bills, write checks, etc. An elder law attorney can draft the POA and also help arrange for it to be properly executed (there are ways to show that she agreed to and understood it, even if she cannot sign) and witnessed.
If she is not mentally competent and/or cannot communicate her wishes, then she would have to be formally declared incompetent and a legal guardian appointed for her by a court. This will require a legal action in family court, supported by medical evidence (e.g. doctor testimony) of her incompetence. Again, an elder law attorney can help you do this.
Until you do one or the other--power of attorney or legal guardianship--you unfortunately have no legal authority to make decisions on her behalf, access her bank account, etc.


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