Ask The Expert: My father has dementia and Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home. Mother is still mentally competent but lacks understanding and skill to handle finances and other decisions needed to take care of herself and dad. What do we need to do in order to handle their finances and assets?

posted by: Ben A. Neiburger Elder Law Attorney

To execute a power of attorney, the principal (that is, your grandfather) must be mentally competent and be able to understand the contents of the power of attorney. It sounds like your grandfather is not competent and, thus, cannot sign the power of attorney. I think the same may apply to your grandmother. If they are both, indeed, not competent, your only option is to hire an attorney and open a guardianship/conservatorship for them with the courts. In answer to your question, based on the facts that you describe, it is doubtful that any powers of attorney that they sign will be valid.

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