To be able to engage in financial decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person, it is much better if there is a power of attorney in place.
A power of attorney is a legal document signed by the “Principal,” granting the authority to another individual to make decisions on the Principal’s behalf. This document is only in effect during the lifetime of the Principal.
nj.com’s recent article on this topic asks “Who can sign for an incapacitated person if there’s no power of attorney?” The article noted that to have the authority to conduct financial transactions concerning the assets solely owned by the incapacitated person who failed to execute a power of attorney, a guardian will have to be appointed by the court.
A guardianship is a legal relationship established by the court, in which an individual is given legal authority over another when that person is unable to make safe and sound decisions regarding his or her person, or property.
For example, in New Jersey, an application will have to be filed in the probate part of the Superior Court, in the county where the incapacitated person resides.
If it’s not an emergency, a guardian also will need to be appointed to make medical decisions for an incapacitated person who hasn’t signed a health care proxy. This is a legal document that gives an agent the authority to make health care decisions for an incapacitated person. It will take effect, if the person is incapacitated or unable to communicate. The agent will make decisions that reflect the wishes of the incapacitated individual.
It’s typically not necessary to be appointed as an agent under a power of attorney or health care proxy or legal guardian for another person to sign an assisted living or nursing home admissions contract or a Medicaid application.
Before signing an admissions contract for someone else at an assisted living or nursing home, make sure to read the contract very carefully, including the fine print. Don’t be pressured into signing it first and then reading it later. There may be language concerning responsibility for finances. Read it and ask questions, if anything is not clear.
Reference: nj.com (July 22, 2019) “Who can sign for an incapacitated person if there’s no power of attorney?”