Phoenix, AZ asked in Health Care Law and Contracts for Arizona

Q: Can a power of Atty be changed while in the hospital

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1 Lawyer Answer
Ana Maria Del Valle-Aguilera
Ana Maria Del Valle-Aguilera
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Miami, FL

A: As long as the grantor of the power of attorney (POA) has legal capacity and all statutory requirements in Arizona for execution of a POA are followed, it can be done.

When a person is in a hospital it is very important to have written evidence that at the time of execution of the POA the grantor was able to understand the content as well as the ramifications of executing the document. If the grantor is sedated or under any type of medication that can affect his cognitive abilities (mental capability that involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas,etc.) the POA can be contested and found invalid. If the execution of the document is properly planned and discussed with the attending physician, any medication that could affect the grantor's cognitive abilities can be temporarily suspended and the doctor can write a letter attesting to this and that in his professional opinion as attending physician, at the time of execution of the POA the grantor's cognitive abilities were not impaired. Some doctors are very explicit in this type of letters and others are not, following maybe a pre-designed short form used in their practice or hospital. Basically, the grantor needs to have legal capacity, a term that doctors do not use, but as long as you have written evidence the POA should survive any objection as to its validity. If the grantor is to be removed from medication, make sure that the time of execution is also recorded as it can be used in conjunction with hospital records to evidence what medications were given on a certain day and the time.

You should consult a local attorney that can draft a POA that would contain additional language to prevent any objections regarding the execution of the document.

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