Recently I was asked by the family member of an incapacitated person if he (the family member) could initiate family law proceedings on behalf of his incapacitated relative. I explained that the answer was yes, under certain conditions. A third party may act on behalf of another individual if he or she has been granted a “power of attorney.” A “power of attorney” enables an individual to appoint someone of their choosing to act on their behalf if they become incapacitated, ill, unable to act on his/her own behalf, or just because the individual wishes to have another person assist them with their day to day issues. The individual would appoint the person of their choosing to be the individual’s “attorney in fact.” It is not necessary for the “attorney in fact” to be a licensed attorney at law. The “attorney in fact” can be the individual’s spouse, sibling, best friend, caregiver, etc. The “attorney in fact” can initiate legal proceedings on the individual’s behalf, such as filing civil lawsuits, family/domestic relations proceedings, etc. The “attorney in fact” can sign all necessary verifications and appear at court on the individual’s behalf. Of course, it is at the court’s ultimate discretion as to whether or not they will allow the final entry of a decree or other settlement document without first having some type of medical or other legal document reflecting the incapacity or inability of the individual to act on his/her behalf.
Please call for 480-464-1111 for a Family Law consultation with Tim Durkin.