rules/laws about someone helping sign documents or make official phone calls

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Kristina1

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Sorry for the sloppy title. I wanted to know how it works legally when you need someone to help you do something that legally you are supposed to do for yourself.

For example it's very hard for me to write legibly, so one of the clinician's was helping me fill out a consent form (she was writing for me, then I signed it). But when we did the HIPPA form she said "unfortunately I'm not allowed to help you fill this one out." It was only 2 lines (address or something I forget) and my signature. When I get to where I can no longer even hold a pen how do we manage these situations? Can't someone legally write and sign for me?

Similarly, when I'm having trouble speaking but need to make an official call (let's say to credit card company or insurance company). They have to verify info (such as SSN) to verify identity. Do I give my helper that info and have them pose as me? Or do we tell them we have someone sitting with me doing the speaking on my behalf?
 

Nikki J

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Do you have your legal documents with power of attorney and health care proxy? The person or persons on that can sign for you. I signed for surgery for both my dad and my sister because I had that power- and practically they took my word for it though technically they likely should not have done so without seeing paperwork( my dad it was life or death emergent, my sister was present in the room) in neither case was I next of kin as they had living spouses

I suspect practically for most phone things people pretend though these days so much can be done on line or through an automated menu that it may not come up. I did a ton of things that way for my sister

The one time we tried to do phone business for my mom saying she was there with us it did not work. She could not speak clearly enough to verify her identity and they refused to proceed. We probably should have pretended! We ended up having to send something notarized

We had to send our POA a couple of places for my parents and I took it to the bank too where they put it on file

I know people do signature stamps too which work for some of this
 

Kristina1

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No, we haven't done any legal things. What is the difference between power of attorney and a healthcare proxy? Where do we go to get these things in place? Also, can you have more than one person? Eg could I put my husband as well as my best friend, since sometimes when husband is working the friend helps me out?
 

Nikki J

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Power of attorney lets you do things like banking etc. anything that you can do buy sell property even. Health care proxy does the permission for medical choices. I did them with my will. You can have 2 people I know because my sister and I had them for our parents. They don't always recommend co equal status and the lawyer tried to suggest primary and backup

You do not need to answer but do you have wills and guardianship for the kids established? The same person who did these can update paperwork

There are online forms but unless you are sure everything else is covered think about a professional consult
 
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Kristina1

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Ok thank you. We have been meaning to update our will, so good to know we could do these things at the same time.
 

lgelb

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In addition to the power of attorney and health care proxy (called health care attorney in some jurisdictions), it's a good time to do your advance directive (some end of life wishes). Your health care designate will need to implement those wishes, possibly, if you can't, so it's a framework for them to know and have at hand what those wishes are. Also have a conversation where you affirm what is most important to you, and at what thresholds you want what to happen, even knowing the latter may change.
 

Atsugi

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The worst thing I ever did was think about these issues instead of getting them done.
The best thing I ever did--I mean it, this decision was worth many dollars--was to walk into a lawyer's office and be very honest.I walked into an Elder Care Attorney's office--no appointment--and said "My wife is dying, right now, on her deathbed. Can somebody help us do the legal things?"
The lawyer and her assistants came to our house the next morning and worked with my PALS. My PALS signaled her 'yesses' and 'noes' and the lawyer made all the signatures. They made a huge pile of papers, explained every one to me (I took notes) and established trusts for the children and opened accounts that I couldn't touch (to ensure it wasn't MY income).
(I learned later that as the lawyer and her assistants drove away, they only drove about a block and they had to pull over to cry.)

Dealing with people over the phone: Usually, they can work with a copy of a POA sent by email or fax, so I learned how to receive, sign, and send docs from home.
 

Kristina1

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Ok, thank you all for the feedback. I reached out by email to one of the local ALS orgs in my area asking who they recommend for legal services.
 

Dave K

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If you are of sound mind and aware of what you are doing, there should ordinarily be no legal issues to be concerned about. You can usually authorize anyone to sign things for you, including bank checks and promissory notes. See Uniform Commercial Code Section 3-402.

If the person you authorize to sign for you is worried that they might be binding themselves by putting ink on something with their hand, you can have them put a pen between your fingers, and any ink that appears on the paper will be your lawful "mark." (I sign store receipts with an "x" all the time.) Alternatively, the person signing for you can indicate unambiguously that they are signing on your behalf, in which case they will not be liable anything you promise to do/pay on account of their making the mark on the paper.

Electronic signatures are also acceptable for just about anything these days, including court papers (unless a wet ink signature is specifically required, which is unusual).

A different question arises if you are absent or are not conscious or of sound mind when a signature is made on your behalf. In that case, the person signing on your behalf does need a power of attorney.

Sometimes you will deal with people who think your representative needs a power of attorney when they really don't need one. In such cases, it can be easier to play ball and print out a power of attorney (which you can "sign" as described above) rather than argue with the person who is asking for it. The person requesting it probably just wants the paper in their file before they are comfortable helping you.

As for HIPAA form, a health provider is not the best person to ask to help with your signature, because that is like asking the phone company to sign your check to pay your phone bill. Get someone else to help you. Again, any "mark" is sufficient.

As for phone calls and having someone pose as you, I've seen it done fairly and effectively. As long as you are there and direct everything that is said on your behalf, who is going to complain? Use good judgment.

A word of caution: there are certain things with strict signature requirements. Some things (like wills and other important documents) may require not only a wet signature, but witnesses and a notary. But again, any "mark" by you counts as a signature. You could get your nose marked with red ink and wiggle it onto the page, and any court would honor it. Fingerprints work even better.

In general, you want to take care of things like wills and advance directives now, rather than later. Don't wait.
 

diagnosed2016

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an estate attorney can help you set everything up. one of the first things we did was set up a trust so there will be no issues with having to go through probate
 

Kristina1

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Dave K, thank you for taking the time to type such a detailed and helpful response!
 
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