The durable power of attorney is a special legal document that lets another person manage a loved one’s finances if they become mentally or physically incapacitated. An individual delegated the power of attorney could:

  • Pay their loved one’s bills
  • File taxes
  • Manage bank accounts and investment portfolios
  • Allocate money toward the beneficiary’s medical care
  • Prevent a relative with dementia from entering into a predatory financial agreement
  • Apply for government benefits

In order to legally grant someone the power of attorney, the grantor should:

  • Contact an estate planning attorney to create a power of attorney document
  • Sign the power of attorney in front of two witnesses or in the presence of a notary public
  • Provide the attorney, Land Records Office, and the creator’s financial institution with a copy of the power of attorney paperwork

Establishing power of attorney is critical for people with dementia. If they do not delegate the power of attorney when they are still of reasonably sound mind, their family members could be forced to go to court and claim guardianship when their symptoms worsen and their condition deteriorates. This process can be time-consuming and is often costly.

Living Wills and Dementia

People who have dementia may also benefit from the creation of a living will. A living will allows a California resident to appoint a trusted friend, relative, or attorney the power to make healthcare-related decisions on their behalf, including:

  • What sort of medical treatment the creator should—or should not—receive if they are too sick or injured to express their wishes
  • Enforcement of a “do-not-resuscitate” order, which will prevent medical professionals from attempting to revive a person whose breathing or heartbeat stops
  • What procedures and medications should be used or prioritized in the event of an emergency or during routine care

When someone begins experiencing dementia symptoms, a living will provides them with the means to exercise control over their future.

Your California estate planning attorney could help your family create a living will that provides for a loved one’s independence and ensures their wishes will always be respected, even when they are unable to make their own decisions.


Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.