My Father Is Incompetent & I Need to Become the Power of Attorney

By Heather Frances J.D.

A power of attorney for finances would allow you to manage your father’s money and other financial affairs when he is unable to do it himself. However, a power of attorney can only be signed when a person is competent. Thus, you may need to pursue another option, such as a court-appointed conservatorship, if your father is no longer competent to sign a power of attorney.

Required Competence

An incompetent person cannot validly execute a power of attorney for finances. The person granting the power, called the principal, must understand what a power of attorney is, what it authorizes and be able to appreciate the extent of his property. Typically, the principal must demonstrate this competence to the satisfaction of the witnesses or notary at the time of signing. If the principal seems confused or incompetent, the witnesses or notary are legally required to refuse to sign the power of attorney.

Intermittent Incompetence

If your father’s incompetence comes and goes, perhaps due to a disease like Alzheimer’s, he may execute a power of attorney for finances during a time when he is competent. State law or his financial institutions may require a statement from his physician that your father is competent at the time of signing. If your father can never regain his competency, a power of attorney is not possible.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now


When a person cannot regain competence, he may need a conservatorship, sometimes referred to as a “guardianship of the estate.” Terms and laws vary from state to state. A conservatorship names someone -- a conservator or guardian -- to be responsible for the assets and finances of an incapacitated person. If a court names you as your father's conservator, you will have similar authority to that enjoyed under a power of attorney for finances, including the ability to protect and manage your father’s income, property and finances.

Filing for Conservatorship

Generally, to become your father’s conservator, you must petition a probate court in the county where your father lives. The court may hold a hearing to determine whether your father is legally incompetent to handle his own financial affairs, which may involve testimony from his health care providers. If he is incompetent, the court will appoint an appropriate person to act as his conservator. If there is no objection, the court may appoint you by giving you “Letters of Conservatorship” as evidence that you have power to act on your father’s behalf.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now
If My Father Is Sick, Whom Should I Make the Power of Attorney?


Related articles

New Jersey Durable Power of Attorney

Granting power of attorney to someone you trust allows that person to take care of your legal, financial and medical affairs on your behalf. In New Jersey, a "durable" power of attorney lets another person take care of your affairs even if you become incapacitated.

What Is Next When a Patient Has Alzheimer's & Cannot Sign a Power of Attorney?

Alzheimer's and other debilitating mental conditions can rob a person of his ability to make medical decisions for himself, take care of his finances or live on his own. Generally, someone else must take care of these responsibilities for the disabled person. If the patient signed a durable power of attorney before his Alzheimer's got too bad, his loved ones can operate under that authority. However, if he doesn't have a power of attorney, a court may have to appoint someone to care for him.

How Do I Get Legal Guardianship in Missouri?

A legal guardian undertakes responsibility for the welfare of someone, known as a ward, who is unable to undertake these responsibilities on his own behalf. A ward may be either a minor whose parents cannot or will not care for him, or an adult suffering from an incapacity that prevents him from meeting his own needs. A guardian can be appointed only by court order. Missouri's guardianship laws are found in Chapter 475 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.

Related articles

How to Become a Trustee or Get a Power of Attorney

A trust is a legal device that allows someone to place property under the care of a trustee for the benefit of a third ...

Power of Attorney Guidelines for State of Oregon

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf if you become ...

How Do I Get a Power of Attorney After My Husband Has Died?

Even though you are married, you cannot simply sign your husband’s name or access assets that are only in his name. To ...

What Happens if a Beneficiary Becomes Mentally Incompetent?

The mental incompetency of a beneficiary can create complications for the trustee of a trust or anyone else who stands ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED