How to Get a Power of Attorney for a Sick Parent in California

how-to-get-a-power-of-attorney-for-a-sick-parent-in-californiaAs an adult child, you want to do everything you can to keep an eye on your parents well being. If your parent has fallen sick, their financial and legal situation can become increasingly more difficult to manage as time goes on. Assigning a power of attorney (POA) is highly recommended to reduce the burdens your parents carry. It is best to do it as soon as possible before they are no longer able to make these decisions.

When appointed as power of attorney for your parents, you will be able to legally handle most of their duties. For example, as a durable or general POA, you will be able to take care of banking deposits, ensure all their bills are being paid, and handle all other important medical and insurance paperwork to continue their treatment.

In the article below, we explain all the different types of POA’s there are in California and a step-by-step process on how to become your mother’s or father’s POA. As always, if you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

1. Talk to Your Parent

Your parent must be mentally competent to make his or her own decisions. You will need to sit down with them and explain the different types of POA that you can be for them, so you can decide together what is best for your situation. Below is a clear overview of all the POA types allowed in the state of California.

Types of Power of Attorney Forms Available in California:

  • Durable – Financial only. Remains in-effect if the Principal becomes incapacitated or incompetent.
  • General (also referred to as nondurable) – Same as durable only the powers granted to the agent become voided if the person being represented becomes incapacitated (mentally or physically).
  • Guardianship (also referred to as parental POA) – A short-term guardian for one or more minor children. This covers the child(ren)’s education, health, and everyday care.
  • Limited (otherwise known as a “specific” power of attorney) – allows a resident of the state to designate an agent to take care of a specific financial matter on their behalf. The matter can be as small as picking up a car to as big as selling or buying real estate.
  • Medical (or “Advance Directive”) – Health care decision-making when the parent may not be able to represent themselves.
  • Tax – Used to allow someone else (mostly accountants) to handle another’s Federal and State income tax filing.
  • Vehicle (also referred to as DMV Form REG-260) – permits an owner of a vehicle or vessel located in California to choose an agent to handle a transfer of ownership.

2. Gather the paperwork

Depending on which of the power of attorney forms you and your parents chose, you are going to need to find the right paperwork. A Power of Attorney has resources for all the States on their website. See the California forms explained above here: You will need to print this document and bring it to your parent to fill out.

3. Fill out the paperwork (Do not sign yet!)

All the forms should come with printed instructions on how to specify powers. But the basic thing that confuses most people is who represents which power. If you are the one taking power of attorney, that makes you the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.” (No, you do not have to be an attorney to be their power of attorney!) Your parent is the “principal,” so you will need to write their name and address on the space labeled “principal.”

Note: Don’t sign yet! You will need to have your signatures witnessed by a notary to make the form valid.

4. Meet with a Notary to Sign

This is probably the most important step and can also cause the most stress for your sick parent. You will need to have a notary present to both sign the documents. Most local banks and hospitals have notary services available. Just be sure to call ahead so that you aren’t making a wasted trip.

Note: Be sure to bring your parent’s Identification Card, as they will need to identify themselves to the notary present.

5. File the Form Appropriately

Now that you have the documents signed and notarized, you will need to print copies for yourself (the attorney-in-fact) and the legal entity who validates the form (such as a bank or attorney office). Be sure to give the original document to your parent (the principal) and find a safe place to store these forms.

Need Help With Your Parent’s Finances?

Marcia L. Campbell, CPA is committed to helping your parents with their personal and financial decisions that need to be made for the future. Our services include financial care, court accounting, trusts, and tax services. Marcia’s team has a genuine interest in your parent’s well-being to help guide your family through this process.

If you need help, please contact us by filling out a Contact Form or giving our office a call at +1(951)686-3608.

45 Responses

    • Hi Nora, if your parent is already ill you can still follow the same process. You just need your parent to be coherent to legally sign the documents. If you have questions, send us a contact form request and we will help you with your specific situation!

  • I need a POA for my me to handle my moms financial situation including real estate transactions and banking. What forms will I need?

  • What if my parent has been diagnosed with dementia, in denial, and making bad decisions. The bad decisions include financially, relationships, and otherwise. Due to the dementia, we have to put restrictions on her, thus, we are the enemies. How do I obtain POA to protect her?

  • Mt father just went through a double bypass heart surgery that has left him in a coma due to complications. How do my sisters and myself go about getting a POA for my father, whereas his girlfriend whom they were buying a house together has removed and kicked out my aunt and my father’s 79-year-old mother and removed all of my father’s belongings and vehicles from the home and will not allow us access to anything. Thank you and have a blessed day

  • My mother was diagnosed with dementia and alzheimer’s. Right before we put her house under my sisters name to reduce my mothers interest on the home. Now that my mother has gotten worse she claims the house to be hers, is there any way my mother can reclaim her home?


  • Hello Marcia,
    Thank you for the article. Both my parents are home-bound and very difficult for them to sign the POA at the Notary’s office. Would you please suggest a way to meet this requirement?
    Thank you sincerely for your time.

  • My step-father just had brain surgery and is not coherent to know what he is signing. I honestly don’t know if he could sign his name. No POA has been signed and he is now in a care facility for the next 4 weeks. I have no idea of where to start.

  • i have a legally execute Durable POA for my husband with me (his wife) as “attorney in fact”. He now has dementia and cannot be trusted with the money. I need to execute it in such a way that I have sole access to our money especially the bank accounts. How do I do this?

    • I just don’t get it. I was my dad beneficiary in carr taker the will stayed me and my brother had equal shears. My brother live in Georgia. Three day before my dad died my brother came to visit. And tuck him back to Georgia. And did not tell me and all hell Brock brother called me and said he was the attorney at fact I was takin out of the will. There more. Michael Alva

  • If someone’s father has Alzheimer’s and there are two children do they both have to sign the Durable power of attorney paperwork?

  • Our (myself & two brothers) father is in the hospital with hospice care @ his doorstep. His coherent times come & go. While us siblings have no desire to fight one another over dad’s minimal property or finances, we don’t all always agree on his healthcare & the decisions to be made. How would POA work between his 3 children? Can there be only 1 POA, if so how is the 1 chosen or appointed?

  • My mother doesn’t know how to read an write to some extent, her name an add regarding her bills. In 1999 my father had put my sister on the deed so my mother can be OK. Well in 2006 she try to get a loan , (tricking my mother) but I caught it and explain to my mother what she was doing. . We told the financial that she didn’t authorized the loan, unfortunately it was worst than a loan , She ha trick my mother to sign a power of attorney, thinking it was the deed . We took my mother to get a reverse mortgage on her home . My sister who help take care of my mom new an did nothing an said your money gone leave it alone.. i called iHSS for elderly abused I was working at that time they came an my sister that in her care made her drop the charges. I was was angry that what she had done , I explain to my mother if she dose it again ,there is nothing you can do. . And it did all the rest of it 90,000 and no one help mother an i.. I had all the proof etc. Now she had a stroke my sister and brother wanted to put
    Her down like a dog. I fought an the dr.. was wrong of her illness. She been walking I have her talking little but to understand. They been trying to get me from coming an help , They know if she able to understand ,I will go after power of attorney.. my brothers and sister has ot to do with her stroke they know it. And now they want her to not be able to do anything to send her to a home. What and where do I go from here.

  • This is so helpful! I really appreciate these articles! I actually have a PhD in behavioral neuroscience, so while I understand a lot of the science behind the disease, navigating the legal and medical landscape has been a challenge.

  • I do not wish anyone to face such problems, but if, nevertheless, fate sent you such a test, this post will greatly help everyone. Thank you very much for such a complete post on a topic that not everyone wants to talk about.

  • It is great that there are such informational articles, as an experienced lawyer, I can say for sure that the information presented here is very useful and true. Use and take care of yourself!

  • How can I get a power of attorney letter for my sock mom to make decisions on her behalf. I would need this paperwork as soon as possible

  • my mother is in another state and her metal health is really bad i’m in california how can i get power of attorney

  • Hi! Thank you for this very informative post. I just wanted to ask for some clarification in one matter – once the correct respective POA is signed and notarized, does it immediately go into effect? Or is there somewhere else that this document needs to be filed or sent? Please do let me know. Thank you!

  • Great article. My mother gave my sister a Durable power of attorney. She, my mother, now wants to cancel the POA and make me her Agent with a new POA. My sister used funds in a way that my mother was not happy with. Does a new Durable power of attorney cancel he existing one with my sister or does my mother need to produce a cancellation of the POA with my sister. My concern is that even with a new POA my sister might walk into the bank with her power of attorney and withdraw funds from mothers account.

  • Thank you for sharing such an informative information, I really wanted to know about Power of attorney template. Keep posting such a wonderful blogs

  • Is there another step after completing the documents signed and notarized? Do we have to file this with the court? Or does this mean that it is completed?

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