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Kentucky court finds parents use of Power of Attorney invalid

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A recent decision of the Kentucky Court of Appeals finds that for PoA to be valid, it must be given by principal.  In GGNSC Stanford, LLC v Rowe, the court found that the parents of a disabled adult child could not appoint an Attorney-in-fact for the Adult Child.  The parents of a woman born with severe handicaps that rendered her mentally incompetent since birth executed a power of attorney for her in 2001.  The parents, who had cared for her well into adulthood, executed a power of attorney which they used to appoint Nancy Meadows as attorney in fact for their daughter, Deborah Rowe.  However, they never obtained an order of guardianship for Rowe.  In 2007, Meadows, as Rowe’s PoA decided to move her into a nursing home and signed her admission papers including an arbitration agreement.  After Rowe’s death, her brothers brought a wrongful death action against the nursing home alleging that the defendants had been negligent and suing compensatory and punitive damages.

The nursing home sought to have the action dismissed sighting the arbitration agreement that Meadows had signed.  However, the trial court denied the motion saying that Meadows did not have the legal authority to enter into the agreement for Rowe and as such Rowe’s estate was not obligated by the arbitration agreement.  The court determined that the parents had no right on the basis of custody alone to enter into contracts on behalf of either a child or an incompetent adult and as such had no authority to appoint Meadows as PoA.  Also, the PoA executed by the parents did not make Meadows attorney in fact for Rowe.

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