Can an adult that is considered incompetent, sign Power of Attorney paperwork?

UPDATED: Feb 7, 2011

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Can an adult that is considered incompetent, sign Power of Attorney paperwork?

My mother was hit by drunk driver. She now has a brain injury and is like a 2 year old. If you ask her to sign her name she will. You can tell her to sign this piece of paper and it will change your name to Dumbo – and she will. My step-dad had my mother sign POA to him after her accident. She had no idea what she was signing. Now he won’t let her 4 kids from her first marriage, or anyone from that side of family, see her. The cops say that we can’t do anything. My mother would never give him full POA. He has taken advantage her condition. What can we do?

Asked on February 7, 2011 under Estate Planning, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You need to get a lawyer. The short answer is, an incompetent adult may *not* sign a power of attorney, and a power of attorney signed by an incompetent adult is void. However, proving that and getting the power voided can be complex, which is why you need a lawyer to represent and advise you. What you're going to want to do is to invalidate the POA; recover any distributions, payments, etc. he's made from her assets and invalidate any other legal documents he's signed on her behalf; and get someone other than the step father appointed as her legal guardian, since she will need one to make decisions if her status is as bad as you indicate. You do have recourse, but be prepared for what could be a messy fight and get an attorney to fight it for you. Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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