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A POA is effective the instant it is executed by the grantor giving power to the holder. So there is not any "invocation of power" on a POA as it is in force automatically. So if wife wanted to contact the various banks, she can do so at any time by visiting the bank personally with identification and the POA signed and notarized by mother showing that she has authority to act for mother.
However, a POA holder can't go against the wishes of the grantor of the power so if mother told daughter not to do something, then she couldn't do so or it would be a breach of her fiduciary duty to mother. But if mother's condition had deteriorated to a point where she would be considered medically or mentally incompetent, then wife could file a formal guardianship petition in the local probate court where mother lives and have a judge appoint wife as her legal guardian so she would have control over her care and her finances..
She can hire a local attorney, but it would make more sense to just hire a CA attorney in the town where mother lives to cut out the middleman and avoid the cost of two attorneys....