new to the forum and could use some advice

jrueterJune 14, 2013

My dad has been fighting metastatic melanoma for the past two years. About a year ago he developed a growth in his brain that affected his short term memory and since that time he hasn't been able to drive or make any major decisions. My step-mother has POA for everything now. For almost a year he was in remission, but the cancer is back now and has metastasized to his brain.
While that is hard enough, the real problem is his wife is becoming increasingly difficult to deal with for me and my three younger siblings. We are all grown, have families, etc and none of us lives near my dad and step-mom. She has driven off many of the friends they used to have nearby. She has always been in poor health, but today almost passed out at the grocery store and had to call a friend to take her home. Apparently this has been happening with some regularity, but she didn't talk to her Dr. about it, even now. With Dad legally unable to make his own decisions my sibs and I are really worried about what would happen if she has medical problems. She has always been down with one ailment or another. (Sorry for the venting)
What I really would like is to be listed on all of the necessary documents, should something happen to her, someone will be able to contact me or my siblings so we can make decisions with him. She has been very cagey about sharing any information with us, so I doubt very much that she will just give us POA outright, but I worry that without some sort of safety net we could end up in a horrible situation at some point.
Does anyone have any ideas, or resources to how to handle this?

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Believe me, I have asked so many questions on this forum so I am NO expert, but I remember when my stepfather and mother made their will with the POA for Health and I was named the "back up" in case my stepfather passed away.

There are others here with more experience, but that would be the most logical way to solve the problem. I believe any lawyer (and most recommend the Elder Attorneys) would recommend same.

Good luck - it's so hard...


    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 8:26PM
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.... excuse me, maybe there is a "back up" for someone with medical issues... also

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 8:27PM
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CA Kate

We have both POAs and Medical Directives, and both have 2nd and 3rd persons named as back ups. You will still need a lawyer to supersede your stepmother's rights.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Thank you for the information and support. Just to clarify, I am not trying to supersede my stepmother's decisions. I just want to make sure that there is a mechanism for someone else to make decisions if she is also unable to make decisions at some point - for example if she has a medical crisis and is unconscious.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 9:32AM
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If the POA is unable to make decisions, and there was no alternate named, then the medical personnel will usually default to next-of-kin according to the laws of the state. That is usually the adult children (who will have to be in agreement.)
Sometimes we see a POA who for some reason chooses not to be the decision maker (maybe due to their own health crisis, or being overseas for example) and gives written permission for someone else to take on the role (again, it would have to be someone who would be next in line just as if there were no POA) and the medical personnel will accept that.
However,strictly legally, a POA cannot name someone else to be an alternate POA for someone; only the original grantor (your father in this case) can do that.

If there are severe conflicts among the family over who will be the spokesperson, or decision maker, or the family can't agree, then it becomes necessary to go to court to have a guardian named.

I am speaking from my experience as a critical care nurse, not as an legal expert.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 6:55PM
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thank you all, and your help is very timely. My SM was hospitalized last night. Fortunately my youngest brother is visiting now and was able to help. He also had asked SM about the POAs and now we have copies, and we all know who the backups are for each of them.
Thankfully there are no disagreements at this time, so knowing who the legal alternates are saves us a lot of wondering.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 10:52AM
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CA Kate

I'm glad to hear the your problem was so easily solved.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 7:43PM
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