My mother is in her mid-70s, lives in the UK and is in intensive care at an NHS hospital. She may or may not survive her battle with sepsis that is leaving her confused and delirious most days. There were two days, a week ago, when I imagine she would have been deemed legally competent; now she is clearly not. She can hold a pen but cannot write. She did not have dementia before going into hospital. There is no power-of-attorney in place, but there are starting to be a few (so far minor) things that require her signature (for example, confirmation that she is canceling a holiday she had booked and can clearly no longer go on; a consent form for release of medical information from the NHS to a private insurer). I am only beginning to explore what needs to be done but imagine there will be more and more such documents and that they will escalate in importance. She is widowed and I, an only child, am next of kin. What are my options for obtaining the right to sign documents on her behalf?
Unfortunately, a legally incompetent person cannot grant a power of attorney. These need to be put in place while the person is still of sound mind. In addition, a normal power of attorney is cancelled if a person becomes legally incompetent; what is needed is an enduring power of attorney.
Worth noting that a power of attorney does not allow you to make decisions about her care; for that you need a living will.
You need to talk to a lawyer immediately and have them talk to your mother. They, in conjunction with her doctors, will be able to determine if she can grant a power of attorney. Given your circumstances it is unlikely anyone would challenge its validity but you never know. If she is not competent then she is legally a ward of the state and the government will make these decisions for her, your solicitor will be able to tell you the procedure.