Can I Get Power of Attorney in California For My Parents If They Can’t Make Decisions?

Sibylle Grebe

Answered by:
Sibylle Grebe

Located in Torrance, CA
Conover & Grebe, LLP

Sibylle Grebe - Estate Planning & Probate - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Sibylle Grebe

Conover & Grebe, LLP
Torrance, CA
Phone: (310) 542-9888
Fax: 310-542-1588

View Profile

The simple answer is no. If California, your parents can name you as their Agent under a Power of Attorney, but you cannot get it unless they give it to you. 

If your parent, relative or friend did not have a power of attorney and suffered a sudden stroke or was in a serious accident and can no longer sign documents or express their wishes, you may need a conservatorship. Because of privacy obligations, a bank will not work with you until a probate court judge appoints you as conservator. This can delay your ability to pay bills and conduct other business for a loved one. 

Being Appointed Conservator 

There are three general steps in the conservatorship court process: 

  1. You must provide evidence that your loved one does not have capacity. A capacity declaration form completed by doctor, geriatric psychologist or neurologist specialist is usually required to meet this element.
  2. The court will conduct an investigation.
  3. The probate court then decides if you are qualified to serve as conservator. 

Once you are appointed, you need to obtain letters of conservatorship that convey rights to handle medical and/or financial affairs – whatever the court determines necessary. We recommend that you consult an attorney who can walk you through this process, answer questions as they arise and explain the next steps. 

Durable Financial Power of Attorney and Advance Directives 

This conservatorship court process is expensive, but it can be avoided with advanced estate planning. 

A durable power of attorney for financial management names an agent to make financial decisions (for non-trust assets) if you become incapacitated. If your assets are held in a living trust, it may also help you avoid conservatorship. Because there is room for abuse of power of attorney, get sound legal advice to ensure any power of attorney meets your individual needs.

Advance health care directives and living wills outline medical treatment preferences, including which life-sustaining measures should be attempted. These documents allow you to appoint a health care proxy to make decisions consistent with your wishes, and they can provide guidance on burial and organ donation and may offer an alternative to conservatorship. 

If you have not taken the time to complete a comprehensive estate plan, take the first step now. It is impossible to predict when an accident or illnesses will strike, but simple measures can avoid the expense and worry of conservatorship proceedings.    

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

Other Answers By Sibylle Grebe

Estate Planning

Does California Law Allow Me to Disinherit a Child?

Yes, you can leave your estate to whomever you wish, including to a friend, a charitable organization, beloved pet or neighbor. No requirement exists …

Answered by: Sibylle Grebe


How Do I Choose a Trustee in California?

Very carefully – this important decision can protect loved ones and ensure they have adequate resources. A trustee is responsible for managing …

Answered by: Sibylle Grebe

Other Answers About Elder Law

Elder Law

What kind of estate planning do I need in Colorado?

Wills in addition to General Financial Powers of Attorney and Medical Durable Powers of Attorney (POA) are highly recommended estate planning …

Answered by: Marco Chayet

Elder Law

How does probate work for an estate in Colorado?

Probate is the legal process under which an estate is established to disperse the decedent's assets through his or her Will, or …

Answered by: Marco Chayet

Elder Law

How do I get a guardianship or a conservatorship in Colorado?

A guardianship case is started by the filing of a Petition for the Appointment of a Guardian for an Incapacitated Person by the petitioner in the …

Answered by: Marco Chayet


If you send a lawyer or law firm email through this service, your email will not create an attorney-client relationship and will not necessarily be treated as privileged or confidential. You should not send sensitive or confidential information via this email service. The lawyer or law firm to whom you are writing may not choose to accept you as a client. Moreover, as the Internet is not necessarily a secure environment it is possible that your email sent via the Internet might be intercepted and read by third parties. Super Lawyers will not retain a copy of this message.

Page Generated: 0.52914500236511 sec