If My Father Is Sick, Whom Should I Make the Power of Attorney?

By Heather Frances J.D.

When a parent gets sick, he may no longer be able to care for himself and may need someone to help him make decisions. If your father cannot make his own health care decisions or manage his own finances anymore, someone else can do these things for him by acting as his agent through a power of attorney. However, if your father doesn’t already have a power of attorney in place, it may be too late to sign one when he gets sick.

Health Care vs. Finances

A power of attorney for health care allows your father to name someone else -- his agent -- to make health care decisions for him should he become unable to make those decisions for himself. A power of attorney for finances enables someone to take care of your father’s financial affairs, such as accessing his bank account, paying his bills and selling his property. Either can be drafted very narrowly to give the agent only a few powers or drafted broadly to give the agent a wide range of powers.


Your father must be competent before he can sign any type of power of attorney. If your father’s illness does not impact his mental capacity, he may still be able to create a power of attorney. As long as your father can fully understand the importance of the decision he is making and is capable of articulating his decisions, he may be competent to sign. If your father’s illness impacts his mental capacity, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, he usually cannot sign. However, if his competence comes and goes, he may sign during his competent periods. In such situations, it may be advantageous to get a physician to certify his competence should someone question the power of attorney later.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now

Choosing an Agent

Only the person granting the power of attorney -- the principal -- can choose the person he wants to act as his agent, which means your father must choose his own agent. You can’t choose an agent for your father, and if your father is too sick to choose his own agent, he’s likely too sick to legally sign the power of attorney.

Conservatorship or Guardianship

If your father lacks the mental capacity to choose his agent or sign his power of attorney, you may have to pursue a conservatorship or guardianship in probate court. A conservatorship is a process through which one or more persons are court-authorized to take care of the financial affairs of a person who cannot take care of himself. Guardianships are also court-authorized, but a guardian takes care of personal decisions for the incapacitated person, such as medical care or where he should live. Though state laws vary, conservatorships and guardianships generally are initiated when an interested person, such as a family member, petitions the local probate court for appointment as the incapacitated person’s conservator or guardian. Courts usually give family members priority when appointing conservators or guardians.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now
My Father Is Incompetent & I Need to Become the Power of Attorney


Related articles

How to Obtain Power of Attorney Forms in Texas

A power of attorney is a legal document in which one person, called the principal, gives another person, called the agent, the power to manage the principal's financial affairs or to make health decisions on his behalf. There are several different types of power of attorney, and the powers given to an agent can vary. These can include signing contracts, managing real estate on the principal's behalf, and choosing a nursing home. Because of this, people delegating complicated powers may chose to have their power-of-attorney form drawn up by a lawyer. If you want to do it yourself, Texas forms are available online.

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 incompetent of incapacitated. The Oregon Revised Statutes set forth the requirements for a valid power of attorney, who may serve as your agent and how the power of attorney may be used.

Legal Guardianship in Nebraska

Nebraska law recognizes that certain people cannot take care of themselves because of their age or mental condition. For example, elderly people who have diseases, such as dementia, and minor children need help caring for their physical and financial needs. Thus, Nebraska has a system whereby courts appoint guardians and conservators for children or incompetent adults to take care of them physically and manage their finances until they become capable of caring for their own needs, if ever. If you have minor children, you can nominate such a guardian as part of your will.

Power of Attorney

Related articles

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 ...

Can I Renew My Husband's Passport for Him With a Power of Attorney?

As an agent appointed under your husband's power of attorney, you have authority to make either medical or financial ...

How to Get Power of Attorney Over a Parent

A power of attorney is used to empower someone, known as the attorney-in-fact or agent, to make medical decisions, ...

Legal Guardianship in the State of Maine

Under Maine law, anyone who is physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself requires a guardian. He might be ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED