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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

How do I change my power of attorney while living abroad?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (2387 points ) June 2nd, 2013

I’m an American citizen living in South America with my significant other. My mother has always been my healthcare proxy and POA because she was my next of kin and also as a RN, I respected her medical expertise and knew she would always do what was in my best interest if I were to die or become incapacitated.

Five months ago, my mother passed away somewhat unexpectedly at a young age. I left the country shortly after and decided to cut ties with my abusive father after his disgusting behavior finally became too much to bear.

I’ve been thinking lately that if anything were to happen to me, that guardianship would be automatically granted to him as my surviving parent. I absolutely DO NOT want this and want to appoint my boyfriend as my healthcare proxy and have him be my joint POA with my older brother.

I’ve tried calling my healthcare provider but they never returned my calls or emails and I’m frustrated because this is somewhat important to me and would hate for my awful father to have the satisfaction of keeping me plugged into machines or dumping my cremains down the toilet if something happened to me…I seriously wouldn’t put it past him.

What’s the best way for me to take care of this? Can I type something up, sign it and have it notarized? Would it have to be notarized in the US?

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18 Answers

Judi's avatar

If I were you I would have something typed up that was legal in South America, then get something typed up when you move back to the states.
I don’t think it really has anything to do with your healthcare PROVIDER. If something happens the person whopresents the most current documentation is the one who makes the decision.

gailcalled's avatar

Agree with Judi. Type up (or get a local lawyer to provide the proper forms…those that are legal in the state you are a resident of), have it dated and notarized and mail to the lawyer who has your earlier POA on file. Send a closing letter that informs him of the new document taking legal precedence over the earlier one,

Aak him whether you have covered all your bases. I would also suggest that you fill out a medical directive.

You are not yet 21? That may pose some other issues if your father, loathsome as he is, is your legal guardian. Again, you need a lawyer who can sift through this for you.

Recently I also redid my health care proxy, MPOA and a financial POA for a trust fund, making my daughter the go-to-person. Because she is living in Canada, it got slightly more complicated. In order to have one document involving her notarized, she had to take it to the US Embassy in Vancouver, and wait in line for a long time

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The document needs to be legal in the country you are living in. The POA you had may not have been followed in South America. Each country has it own laws and regulations.

Have you considered “divorcing” your father, then having a will written for custody of your child to go to your boyfriend.

gailcalled's avatar

@Tropical_Willie: I believe that @Leavesnotraces is the minor in question. She has no child.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@gailcalled My bad on minor child. However, a divorce from father would break control of her in sickness.

gailcalled's avatar

@Tropical Willie: By divorce, do you mean becoming an emancipated minor? An interesting idea, about which I know nothing.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

If you can “show cause”, it would block any discussion about control of estate or POA.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@gailcalled I’m 24 so legally an adult. As far as I know though since I am not married, my default power of attorney/healthcare proxy would be my surviving parent since he is my “next of kin”.

Could I type something up and have it notarized at the US embassy?

gailcalled's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace: Since you are legally an adult, you can choose anyone you want for power of attorney, healthcare proxy, beneficiary. Most young adults have surviving parents yet make other arrangements.

South America is a big place. Are there attorneys in your home city who can help you with this? Do you have an attorney in your home town, or does your brother or another friendly family member have one? Given the ease of electronic exchange of info, you and an attorney from your neighborhood can straighten this out very quickly. You are talking about standard and simple documents.

If I were living in Rio, I could call or write to my lawyer in my town here and change any documents I wanted to.

This has nothing to do with the US embassy except for notarization information.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace You need to find out how things work in South America where you are currently living. The paperwork you have from the US may not be valid there. Healthcare varies a lot from country to country. Being in South America, they may not even try to get in touch with your father since he is in another country, especially if your boyfriend is right there with you at the time.

YARNLADY's avatar

A Power of Attorney is nothing more than a legal form. All you have to do is fill it out and get it properly notarized. There is usually a small fee.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Where do I get the forms from?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace It depends on where you are exactly.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@Seaofclouds I’m in Quito Ecuador

hearkat's avatar

I suggest you contact the U.S. Consulate or Embassy closest to you and ask them to advise you.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think the Embassy is your best bet.

gailcalled's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace: You can get all the forms you need online from the state where you are a legal resident. You can fill them out yourself. They are very clear and straightforward.

The only reason to involve the Embassy is over the issue of notarization.

marinelife's avatar

See an attorney.

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