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My mom has lived with me since 2003 when my dad passed away. She did her own finances for a couple of years and started in the beginning stages of dementia and I had to help her balance her checkbook and write some checks for her. My husband became ill and was off work for 1 1/2 years and during the end of his illness only got 60% of his wages. I asked my mom if we could borrow money to meet the monthly bills until he went back to work and she agreed. My sister, mom and I were all on mom's checking account so we all had access. When my sister found out money was missing she threathened to charge me with fraud for using the money. I told her I was given permission but with my mom's dementia she honestly did not remember telling me it was ok. My sister has been holding this over my head for a year and my family takes care of my mom every day of her life and my sister only comes around once a week if even to take her shopping. We had a big argument last week and will probably never speak again. Can she prosecute me for fraud it this is not her account? Again, she always had access to the account so it was never a deliberate act of deceit on my part. My sister nows does my mom's banking and does not tell my mom what is going in and out of her account and she also gave her daughter $5000 inheritance early from the money. Can I go to jail or can someone tell me what I need to do to protect myself and my mom. Can my sister press charges without my mom's agreement? I signed a document that said I will pay back the money with out of my inheritance. If I go to jail my husband will not take care of my mom and I am worried about her as we do almost everthing for her. Help me please!!!! I am petrified of going to jail

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This sounds like a very sad situation for your mom. I think both you and your sister have abused your roles as trustees for mom. If your mother was impaired you had no right to use her funds. Your sister also had no right to disburse anything to her daughter. Neither of you have 'rights' to her money for your personal use, period. If her money runs out and she requires financial assistance from Medicaid you will both find out you will need to pay it back. I suggest you talk with an accountant (CPA) or qualified attorney to find what is required to properly handle her finances instead of the pair of you trying to grab it up.

I hope you will come to some equitable agreement with your sister. 1) You should be reimbursed for your mother's expenses if you are the caretaker. 2) Your promissory note may be adequate (as long as it conforms to your State's law), but your sister might be more agreeable if you started paying some of the funds back -you said yourself it was a 'loan', so treat it like a real loan, not an 'advance on your inheritance.' 3) Your sister needs to account for any money she's taken from your mother's funds.

I wish you luck and sincerely hope you & your sister will quit back-biting and get together about what is right for your mom.
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Not knowing the whole situation, I won't speak to it. But, there is an important reminder in this entire debate: Anytime someone hears something, especially concerning an elderly person with dementia or an underlying personality disorder, it always pays to remember that there are generally more sides to the story than the one being heard at the moment. It's so easy, even for those of us who know better, to get caught up in the transient truth of the story we're hearing. Mom has misrepresented facts concerning me on more than one occasion, then changed them as her emotion-of-the-moment dictates, and, although confused faces of her audience generally alerts me that they've heard a different tale at another time, I still feel guilty or what I have not done. After awhile, even I begin to wonder what the true story really was in the first place. Makes me wonder where I'll be mentally when all is said and done.
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If you are not permitted to know anything about you mother and what is happening, how do you know all of this?
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I am sister of Babs. I was executor and POA of mom's accounts at the time of this fraud and embezzlement. Bab's name was not on checking account and savings account. Mom opened a money market account and I was put on this account at the time of inception. When Babs found out she forged mom's signature and added herself to this account. She realized she could not use money in this account as she had before I changed it so she added herself without mom's or my knowledge so she could continue using funds. When money market was opened there was $12,000.00 in money market and $5,000.00 in checking account. When I took my mother to bank to check her account the total amount in both accounts was down to $1200.00. All the rest was used by Babs for her own personal use. She forged mom's name on checks daily and made car, mortgage payments,cash withdrawals and debit withdrawals daily. She admitted to all of this and said she would try to pay back all that she took and if she couldn't she would sign a promissory note saying it would come out of her inheritence. She is now in bankruptcy proceedings and had mom sign papers saying all was a gift. Promissory note was also forged with mom's signature. She had my poa revoked and my uncle was made poa now. I am satisfied with how he is handling everything for my mother. All money has been turned over to our uncle. Babs took advantage of mom since mom was declared as of 9/10/2010 by a certified psychologist with dementia. She has kept mom a prisoner in her house(Babs). Mom lives upstairs in her own apartment in Bab's house and I along with my 35 year old twin daughters can see my mother. Her husband assulted my husband and was found guilty of criminal assault and harrassment and now has a criminal record for the rest of his life. I have 105 pages of forgery,fraud and embezzlement papers filed with my attorney and Babs will be proscecuted on my mother's passing. She believes she did nothing wrong but I have proof of all that she has taken and will use this against her when necessary. Our Uncle finally realizes what is happening and how he was misled by Babs. He has constantly kept me up-to-date with how he is handleling mom's affairs. Uncle's daughter (our cousin) is the one that does everything for my mother. She has been trying to let us see my mother and said she will get my mother to us for visits. My mother has to have constant care with her dementia and she only asks for my uncle or cousin, never Babs! Mom was recently in a rehab facility and my twins and I were allowed to see her and visit with her there. She was happy to see us and doesn't remember any of the bad things that have happened at Bab's house. Now Babs has brought mom back to her house and we are not allowed to see her again. She is only trying to get back at me and doesn't care about our mother's well being. Mom is 83 years old and has been diagnosed with severe depression and was in hospital recently with dehydration. She was admitted to hospital after returning to Bab's house after 12 hours of being home after passing out twice and the ambulance had to be called. Now cousin has to go to mom's daily, take her to appointments and doesn't get paid anything for her services. Home health has been called in to administer care and they are paid to even sleep there when sister and her family live downstairs and could sleep in the 2nd bedroom. Mom has her own entrance but me nor my family are allowed to take care of her. This is now July 2012 and I have just found this discussion on this website.
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Well my sister took all mom's money and we did change the POA to her brother who is a neutral party. I had the department of aging investigate and my sister gave mom's money back and finally had to turn over the POA. Contact your local department of Aging Protective Services and explain what has happened and they will most likely investigate where the money went. If you sister was POA she will have to account to them for every dime she spent as protective services will get every bank statement and anything they need to find where the money was spent and she will have to account. Please get the POA changed immediately..... Is your mom coherent?????
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I am not an expert,have only learned from other peoples situations and my own experiences. First of all ..... If you were a judge what you need is evidence.
In this case it is paper trail that works as evidence. Words mean nothing but a signature on a piece of paper means everything. Second of all..... how is the checking set up , worded, I actually knew this already but found it written by an expert somewhere on this site. The words "AND" & "OR" or phrased together "AND/OR" these words may be small but are very powerful in legal matters. The other thing with the checks is who's signature is on the check written. One more thing is who's money is deposited and withdrawn.
If it is all Mom's money and she signs checks alone, she spent it. If it's her money and someone else is on account and they signed alone, I believe the questions are on that person. In that case if proven that these funds were spent to benefit Mom you should be ok. Theres "gifting" but only legal if Mom did the gifting with her signature or legal document. In the event of her needing medicaid gifting is needed to be repaid if during the look back period. If you have paperwork stating Mom's daily needs cost of living and you are full time caregiver There is a legal amount allowed by law for this If supplying 24/7 care and room & board. So in reality it sounds like your sister is in deeper than you it may add up that she owes you and the government money. If you are the one supplying care in anyway for family members and that is your first priority Karma will take care of you believe me. Karma works both ways the ones worried about money over Mom's wellbeing well let me just say they will understand when it's too late to reverse thier choice and they will be the one to suffer in the end.
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The only problem I see is that you say you "wrote the checks to cash and signed HER name"... I'm not sure whether or not that would be considered forgery since your name IS on the account anyways, but, I would get some legal advice...
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What transpired after you took your mom to an attorney to write up a new will and relinquish any other POAs. I'm having a very similar issue where my sister used 85 percent of my mom's life savings to buy a now-undewater home.
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What transpired after you took your mom to an attorney to write up a new will and relinquish any other POAs? I'm having a very similar issue where my sister used 85 percent of my mom's life savings to buy a now-undewater home.
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What transpired after you took your mom to an attorney to write up a new will and relinquish any other POA's. I'm having a very similar issue where my sister used 85% of my mom's life savings to buy a now-undewater home.
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What became of going to the attorney and having the POA put in your name? This interests me greatly, since I have a 95 y/o mother whose caregiver, my sister, and her boyfriend swindled 85% of my mother's wealth. She'd drop dead if she knew her funds became underwater non-assets.
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Please seek legal advise and get everything documented for your protection and that of your mom. Such as a Will, Health Proxy etc...before things get really ugly.
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I am so glad to read you can relax about this issue the extra stress is no good, you have serious issues going on otherwise. defer12 is absolutely correct about repaying any transfers during the "look back period" !!! These transfers will need to be satisfied before any financial aid can be applied. Your sister needs to know this because the time may come when your Moms health and safety are a major priority and funds are depleated. If all other assets are spent, all the money during this "look back period" are considered, and any funds used in anyway other than for the benefit of moms care, will remain as an asset. I would like to suggest that you and sis have a peaceful discussion reguarding Moms finances and her care in entirety. I really hate to put a negative spin on this but I see this seperation of medical and fincial issues becoming a headache in the future. My reason for this adivce comes from experience... all my sister ever worries about is money but is great with details and papers, and all I ever worry about is others and their health and happiness. My only focus was Mom, her care, safety, etc. Therefore I thought it best we shared POA, thinking... if I took on the caring duties, sis could deal with paperwork. That did not happen, Due to sisters neglect and finanial personal gain in mind. I took on full responsability as I kept my sis informed of every detail all the way, I asked for her help so I could accomplish what needed to be done, and she was a thorne in my side the whole time like an obstacle instead of a bridge for support. Even though I managed the whole ordeal and Mom is now in a NH getting great care and all details in order (due to my efforts only). As if I had any other option.... My sis still has an attitude because she is not a beneficiary of assets she would have otherwise be entiltled to if Mom was healthy until she passed away. Luckily my sis took the back seat so I took over and Mom is safe and cared for 24/7. If sis had the POA alone it would have been a greater struggle to do what was needed. A will is great to have if assets remain to be willed. In most dementia/alziemers cases the care and daily needs of those that need it exceeds that persons assets. You both need to be aware of future costs and prepare for longterm care. The many complications involved and constant behavioral changes that should be expected and need for absolute daily routine are things an entire staff of Dr.s ,nurses,aids,housekeepers and nutritionist and entertainment specialists have trouble with and they are trained and change shifts, therefore they get a break. . One person doing all these things is honorable but in reality is an impossible feat. Throw on top of all those duties the organizing of bills and financial logs and keeping your own family and home in order. I also suggest you google dementia/alziemers and read up on resourses and legal info for your county and state in reference to this subject. It helps to keep in mind "How would I like to be treated if it were me?"
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The lawyer we saw was a wills and estates lawyer. I have asked him to be sure to include in her new will that the grand-daughters have already received their "gifts" since it is not an inheritance as my mom is still alive.
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italianbabs,

My advice to you would be to seek an elder care lawyer. I would think they would have the answers for you. Do it soon. Don't fester about it. Call and make the appt. today. Have you been getting help from your Area Aging Agency? They can provide a great deal of help. Here in Cincinnati, OH--it's Council on Aging. Good luck! ((((((HUGS))))))!
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Just so you know, your sister is wrong to give her daughter her share of inheritance now! If your mom has to eventually go into a facility, the state will want an accounting of all of her money for the last 5 years. You have agreed to pay her back, but your niece will have to also if the money is needed to pay for Mom's care.
You can actually claim an amount from your mom as "room and board",as she has been living with you for all this time. Start keeping receipts for anything regarding her care. Definitely get an opinion from an elder lawyer.
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UPDATE: Hello to everyone who so nicely answered my question. We had our attorney meeting last night and it appears that I cannot be prosecuted as the promissary note that all three of us signed is valid. My mom went with me and has appointemed me Medical POA and is changing her will and neither my sister or I will now how it is changed until we open it after her passing. Mom is keeping my sister as her financial POA for now. Thanks for all your help in this matter and as things go along I will send an update. But for now, mom and I can relax for a little bit and know that things will be done according to what my mom wants and not what anyone else wants. Thanks again.
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She can not press charges. You are all equally on the account and until your mom can no longer make any decisions for herself, she can let you borrow money and your sister can't do much about that.. But to keep peace, I would from here on out let her in on what is going on and where all the money is going. I think she is just making sure the money will last and be used to take care of your mom so you two don't get stuck paying for it.
Try to work it out with your sister.. It's hard to take care of elderly parents and you both have to agree. I wish you luck.
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The person who signs the check is a major detail. My mother signed every check sometimes with a battle might I add (throwing fits in the bank accusing me of stealing etc.) The whole time I had POA papers and the bank kept telling me that they needed the papers. I knew the law...All of her funds went to Meds,Drs and her aid and 15.00 a day for food ,LOL wish I could live that frugal for myself, she was able to sign, so I just played it safe by doing it that way, and as long as she signed I was not responsable for those checks. I only did this for clearer records and knowing noone could question "why or how it was spent" At the same time I spent every dime on her needs only. You need a Durable POA?... whether Mom is wiiling and able herself or not. You can take control on her behalf. This power is granted with a notary's stamp and signature, the notary need only make an ID check for mom to sign it. Make sure it says every detail of what you need to do such as all accounts, IRAs worded specifically including Life insurance policies ,Burial arrangements,addresses changes for all of these things and be sure it says the power to gift or transfer any or all of these assets in specific detail. I am having trouble with the way my mother set up her pension, (long before her dementia) an amount taken out every month for income taxes FIT and that is now an issue because medicaid has figured that amount in with her income yet I have no access to it due to the fact that the POA papers did not state that I could change this specificically. Do your homework before you talk to lawyer the more you know the less he has to do for you. If you are prepared and know what the law is for your individual situation it will be less costly. You can find alot online that is helpful. Be proactive and aware of all the details needed. By the way POA is ment for use while a person is alive, only. POA is so you can act as agent not as resposible party. Good Luck!!!
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PS: I don't know if I made this clear. I was on my mom's account with my sister and my mom but when I borrowed the money I signed my mom's names to the checks as it was her account. So is that check fraud??????????
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Thank you all so much for the kind words and advice. You all made me cry today and that means the world to me to know that I am not alone. I guess until you live your daily life being a caregiver, you will never truly understand what we all go through. I promised my dad I would take care of her. That is why they moved in with me and I've kept that promise. That is what I am doing and I'm glad my husband and daughter have supported that with me. It's very difficult for them as well since sometimes when mom gets ill, it takes a toll on every one of us who live there. Please keep you thoughts and advice coming. I know my sister is working on pressing charges against me and I need all your words to keep me strong. God Bless you all!
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Since I have been a "caregiver child" for my mother with dementia, I have realized there are possitive and negative sides and people in the entire ordeal. Those who don't want to deal with it find escape in critisism. Nothing else will reveal a persons true soul and natural behavior than this situation and with this amount of clearity. It brings out the best and the worst in people. Seems to me your putting your Moms life ahead of you and your own family. You should not feel guilty or scared if you did and do the right thing to protect the ones you love. Anyone doing otherwise should be ashamed. I believe that in a joint bank account anyone on the account has equal access and rights to funds in such account (depending on wording such as "and" "or"). If your moms income is deposited in this account and there are 3 people who have the right to deposit and withdrawal, those who have names on the account are equally responsable for any funds to be accounted. If the bank gets a "red flag" they can notify the government and then you all have to explain the situation. In other words if you have an account in your name "only" noone can question where "you" spend your money. Someone should be the Power of attorney for this situation, your moms account in her name only and her income should be deposited into the account and a recording of any checks and keep a log of where money is spent. The POA signs in Moms behalf only. (Moms money POA in charfe of where it goes) Funds of your mothers should be spent in her benefit only. Depending on the state of residence, there is an amount allowed by law for caregiver child careing for an elderly disabled person. (you can reasearch this online for details) You should record and keep receipts of all finances and any caregiving duties so there is no question of how or where money has been spent. If your sister is so worried about the money why did she give her daughter a $5000 inheritance, EVEN... medicaid can not leagally be repaid unless that person has passed away and then only after all debts are satisfied and taxes paid and funeral costs are paid can they recover money owed. An inheritance is after death otherwise its a gift. You as a caregiver child can respectfully say the money was spent in moms behalf, can your sister? The serious and relevant issue is your moms health and well being and daily quality of life. If possible you and your sister need to discuss "What is best for MOM?!" If your sister can't conform to reality than do whatever it takes to keep Mom safe and secure as well as you and your family too. I have found as long as your heart is in the right place everything will be OK!!!!!!!!!!! I hope this is helpful.
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Hi, We just went through something similar. A family friend was writing checks with MIL permission. She wrote vast amounts and was not on the account. As she is a family friend, we all love, we had a pow wow with her and resolved the issue. As you were on the Checking account you should be okay. Only a legal eagle can tell you for sure. You sister taking out large amounts sounds questionable. Know your rights and responsibility for you state. I don't know if I am allowed to put a link... it may already be in a file somewhere here, but I found the information here very helpful to handle the issue with our family friend.
http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/ncearoot/Main_Site/index.aspx

It ( the site) was suggested to me by a young paralegal. It sounds to me you are doing the right thing and maybe sis is taking advantage.
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Babs - I've never heard of a reputable third party that will handle someone's finances. I'm sure there are people out there who will offer to do it, but I personally would not trust my mom's finances with anyone else. I think you need to just take this over yourself.

BTW - from your description of your mom, my mom was farther along in her Alz when she signed the financial and medical POAs for us, so it shouldn't be an issue.

Once the POA is done, open a new bank account and get all the direct deposits changed. Then close the old one.

In opening the new account, I recommend you don't ask the bank for a "joint" account. Instead, ask them for an account with you set up as the POA for your mom. In the future, if *you* ever owed money for something (legal item, back taxes, child support, etc.), it can be taken out of a joint account. But if you are just listed as POA for your mom, your creditors cannot touch the account.

Good luck!
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While you're at the lawyers getting POA also get medical POA. The bank account should also have a POD (paid upon death) that will determine who the money goes to when she dies. The account itself is probably under her SSN, so while while you have access to it while she is alive it could change after she is gone. Best to get everything in order now. Best wishes!
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Save your energy and pick your battles, Babs. Stay as calm and supportive of your Mom, aligned with her, so you have unity. Try not to bad-mouth your sister too much, because you never know when your Mom might have a change in her THINKING, due to the dementia, and she might get emotional. Know what I mean? Just watch your step, stay in control, and you will come out ahead--for your Mother's sake:)
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Mom still works 3 days a week and bathes herself and dresses herself. She has some minor short term memory loss but believe me she is pretty miffed at my sister right now and wants her money back in her control. My sister doesn't let her buy what she wants. It's my mom's money and she should buy whatever she wants to buy. Mrs. Greedy wants it all for herself and her kids new homes....
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Thanks everyone. Boy you are all making me feel empowered. I am listing the comments as soon as you give them to me for the attorney. It does affect your family and it is really affecting my job which I have only been here for two years. I have a very understanding boss. Unfortunately my good time charlie sister does't have any idea what it's like to be stuck at home and neither does her idiot of a husband. They won't even give me money to fix my mom's furnace. I don't get any rent or any money for taking care of my mom but they think I should pay for all repairs in her apartment. If I was getting full rent of $700 a month I would repair it all. I just want someone neutral to handle the finances. Does anyone know of a company like that who is reputable?
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If your Mom is in the early stages of dementia it may be hard to get POA. This is where you really need some legal advice. Good luck
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Babs,
You go girl! I agree with yellowfever about getting POA. It's very important. Basically, from what I am told, POA is your ability to control things while she's alive. Executer the person in control of the estate after death. IF you can get that changed, I would! Get both. If Mom agrees, take her to a lawyer, have them prep the papers first and sign away. No one needs to know, i.e. DON'T TELL YOUR SISTER! I have a similar situation. A selfish siblish who only wants their money and nothing of the mess we are in. I care for BOTH Mom and Dad. Dad with demntia and mom sick from head to toe. I lose countless days taking them to the doctors, CVS, church, groceries, errands etc...My family is affected, my job and my life! I have two non existent siblings. Asked for help when I almost had a nervous breakdown and both said, "Sorry, no can do." So I wrote them off because I have to use my energy in a positive way to take of my parents and keep myself sane. It's not easy. And I hate them for running like they did, but I'll have no regets. Neither will you.
Cheers,

SS
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