Q: A person in hospice care needs to get a power of attorney done, however he is unable to sign a form, what can be done?
A: If the person is mentally capable of signing, there are ways this can be accomplished. However, if the person is not mentally capable, any power of attorney signed in any manner would not be valid. You should talk to an elder law attorney immediately.
Generally when someone is put into hospice care that means their physician has determined they have 6 months or less to live. By this time there should be a POLST in their medical file (a physician orders for life saving treatment) so their wishes with regards to medical treatment to be provided or withheld should already be in their medical file.
However, with respect to financial management and other matters which would be included in a durable power of attorney for financial management your options are limited. In California, a mark may be used in lieu of a signature and it does not matter how the mark is made whether using mouth, hands, or feet, however the person making the mark has to be sufficiently competent to understand what they are signing/marking. With that said If the signer is not able to communicate directly with the notary, then the notary is not allowed to notarize the documents.
I used to make "house calls" to persons in hospice wishing to execute powers of attorney and other estate planning documents, but stopped doing so, because the majority of times the signer could not communicate their wishes to me or a notary either and the person who called me wanted the power to handle the signer's finances to benefit themselves, because this was the previously stated intent of the proposed signer. Although under the circumstances I never had any reason to doubt the proposed signer's intent as communicated to me by a third party, the lack of the ability to communicate with the proposed signer regarding their intent made it impossible for me to move forward with execution and notarization of documents.
If there is some reason you need to be able to handle the proposed signer's finances or medical care you can always seek a temporary conservatorship (which you can get in 10 days in California) in connection with a permanent conservatorship but if approved you will be under court supervision regarding finances and required to account to the court. I am not sure with the information provided and given the amount of time your loved one is expected to live whether this would be a viable option for you.
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