Q: Under a Durable Health Care POA, can an alternate representative temporarily take over for a primary representative?
In my sister's Durable Health Care Power of Attorney, she appointed her son as her representative to make health care decisions in the event of her incapacity, and she appointed me as her alternate representative if her son is unavailable, unwilling or unable to make decisions for her. My sister is incapacitated due to brain damage from a stroke, and her son sometimes neglects or refuses to make essential health care decisions for her, such as scheduling appointments for doctor visits and medical testing ordered by her doctors. I want to know if I have the legal right, as alternate health care representative, to take over her son's health care POA duties when he neglects or refuses to perform them.
A: You will need to review the power of attorney document itself. POAs can specify what it means for the agent to be unable or unwilling to act on behalf of the principal. If the POA does not have such language, it is best to get the other agent to resign. The resignation can be temporary or permanent.
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