POA paperwork - copies vs. original
Is there ever a time that you need to produce the original power of attorney with the seal, as opposed to a copy?
The reason I ask is, I have copies of my mother's paperwork but the original is at her lawyer's office. He says it is in effect now (it is durable) even though I don't have the original, but won't release the original unless he gets instructions from my mother or her doctor, for her protection. It doesn't specifically say in the POA that a copy will work as an original.
Here's the situation: my MIL passed away from a massive stroke in February, and I saw how fast things can happen. I'm sure my SIL was glad she had all the necessary paperwork handy for dealing with the hospital. It would have been a real hardship to have to trek to a lawyer's office to get paperwork at that time.
Then my own mother had a TIA in April, and after that I thought I'd better be ready with paperwork myself. Especially after having some difficulty getting medical records sent from the hospital to her primary care doctor. Her lawyer actually suggested that I try to have the doctor call if I was afraid of upsetting my mother by asking her to call.
I told the doctor that I didn't want my mother to have to traipse around getting medical records, and asked him to call the lawyer to release the original. (She is 90, and was still driving at that point.) He flipped out, said my mother wasn't incompetent and he absolutely wouldn't do it. I told him I knew she wasn't incompetent but wasn't in good enough shape to run around dealing with medical bills and records. Anyway, I let it drop for the time being.
Long story short, she's had a more serious "brain attack" this week. (They still haven't said if it was an official stroke, but I think so because they are saying she needs some rehab before trying to go home or to assisted living, her memory is much worse, and she's having trouble reading. Her ability to find words and speak intelligibly is getting better, but her speech problems definitely lasted more than 24 hours.) The hospital asked me if she had a living will, whether I had a medical POA, etc., I gave them a copy of everything and that was fine.
Also, she's in the midst of selling one of her two houses, and hadn't picked up the mail for several days at the one being sold. Then she went in the hospital. When we went to check her mailbox, there was nothing there. When I went to the PO to ask about getting her mail released and changing her address (which I got her agreement about first), they wanted the POA. Again, the copy was accepted.
I'm really leery of asking another doctor about this after the first reaction I got. And my mother is in no mental shape to call the lawyer herself. She hasn't even attempted to use the hospital phone yet (which she was fine with after the first TIA in April).
What I'm wondering is, will I continue to be able to get pretty much everything done with copies of the POA, or am I going to run into trouble without the original? I'm going to either be involved with getting her into assistive living or getting her house ready for her to move back into, paying medical bills, etc. If she's going back to the house, I need to know I'll be able to do things like contract for easier entrance steps to the house (which she had planned to do already). If she's going to try staying at home, I want to get as much done as possible before she gets back there.
Also, I just plain don't want to feel like I'm being sneaky going ahead with things without having the original!
Thanks for any advice.