Can I get power of attorney over my mentally ill mother?

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Can I get power of attorney over my mentally ill mother?

I am 43 and an only child.My mother is 60 and mentally ill. She has a long history of hospitalizations for over 30 years due to her mental illness. She can no longer pay her own bills or care for her self. Her electricity has been cut off because she gets confused easy and forgot to pay her bills for 3 months. She won’t allow us to help her. Can her sisters and I some how get power of attorney over her? We want to put her in a nursing home so she can be looked after and make sure that she is taking her meds.

Asked on October 25, 2016 under Estate Planning, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A power of attorney is voluntarily granted by a person, so 1) she'd have to choose to give this to you; and 2) she'd have to be mentally competent *when she gives you the POA*--a mentally incompetent person cannot grant a power of attorney (just like she cannot enter into an enforceable contract). 
However, if she is already mentally incomptenent due to mental illness, you may be able to have a court declare her officially incompetent and appoint you her legal guardian or conservator (both terms are used). You would need to file a lawsuit in family court and present medical/psychiatric evidence (such as testimony and reports from doctors or pyschiatrists who have examined or treated her) of her lack of competency. If you wish to explore this option, you are strongly advised to consult with an elder law attorney. Good luck.


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