My mom refuses to give me Power of Attorney, but she cannot mange her money and is constantly forgetting to pay bills. What can I do?

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Giving up financial decision making and control is extremely difficult for some elders and it is certainly understandable. Having a DPOA, as I am sure you know, is one of...let me strike that and say it is THE most important document a caregiver (and for that matter, a care recipient) can have.

It is not just a matter of paying bills. If mom is not able to handle any of her financial affairs, including applying for public benefits, creating other financial arrangements such as trusts, or entering into contracts, the DPOA will operate.

Without this power, and if mom's capacity continues to diminish, you will at some point have to go to court and attempt to have yourself appointed her guardian. This does not always happen. A judge could just as easily appoint a professional guardian which means the appointment of a lawyer as well which means good-bye to mom's money.

It may be possible to explain this to her or it may not be. But she has to understand that if you don't have the DPOA her care and well being may become the responsibility of a complete stranger. Now how would she feel about that?

There is a possibility she may not believe you. In that case I would pay the $300 to have a lawyer come to the house and explain it. Better yet. Go to the office. It looks more official and it may (or may not) impress her (in terms of the gravity of the situation).

In the meantime, offer to help her set things up on automatic payment. Virtually all of her recurring expenses can be set up on automatic bank draft so you would really only have to look over her shoulder once or twice per month.

Similarly, you could set up electronic banking so you can keep an eye on her accounts without being intrusive.

Now that I think of it, this is probably the way to start to reduce the conflict. Then a little later move to a discussion about the DPOA, perhaps in another context like "mom, we need to do this so I can protect the house" or something like that (wish I could be more creative on this but it's been a loooooong day).
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Does your mother need assistance with her finances at this time? Or are you more concerned about the future? What kinds of things are going wrong that require intervention?

Other than she doesn't trust you will her finances, what kind of relationship do you have with her? And is the "not trusting" part about thinking you would steal from her, or not confident you are good at handling money? Is she still thinking of the credit card mess she had to straighten out when you were 16? -- lol, sometimes it is hard for parents to see even their middle aged children as grownups. My uncle took care of all the finances and when he died my aunt turned everything over to her brother to handle for her. When he, too, passed away (at 100, dear Aunt has outlived a lot of relatives) she handed it over to her oldest son. I doubt that it would ever have entered her mind to turn it over to her daughter, although they have an excellent relationship. Girls just don't do that kind of work -- better to give it to a man. So it is possible that your mother's decision is not so much about you personally as you are taking it. (Possible, but not certain, of course.)

What kind of care does she need that you are "stuck with"?

Yes, many people see it as a child's duty to assist parents in their old age. There is no duty, I hope, to take abuse or to be taken advantage of. There is no duty to give up one's own life in the process. Where do you think the line should be drawn? What are you willing to do, out of duty and/or out of love, and what to do see as inappropriate demands? When you work that out in your own mind you will be able to set some boundaries and lovingly but firmly stick to them.

Or you could walk away, justifying it on the basis of a decision she made that you don't agree with. That would certainly show her the consequences of not following your advice. How do you think you'd feel about that action a few months from now?

Sincere best wishes as you struggle with these issues.
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I have asked my mother over and over to get me on her accounts. She has had numerous health scares and I pleaded with her and said if something happened I would have no idea how to bury her or finish her business. She was continuously refused to give up control. She said, she would do it on her time. Now she has had a massive heart attack, 4 bypasses and another heart attack in her new graft. She is in a rehab nursing home but still in complete denial about going home. She can't walk to the bathroom, so she can't navigate her goat paths in hear hoarded home. They deemed her mentally competent but now she is agreeing that I could go get POA but she dumped it all in my lap. After some changes, I will have her evaluated again. I have an appointment with a lawyer today for consultation but I have no idea how to proceed. She doesn't qualify for guardianship YET but I want her to because of the environment of her home. I think I need to get durable POA so it's not contested by my loser brothers who abandoned her. I'm afraid because she is now stuck in a facility right now, she's tied my hands and now I'm afraid all of her finances will be eaten up by lawyer fees to fix this mess. What's worse, she's not worried about it. "Oh, it will turn out ok." No, because you just dumped your mess on me.
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pcstevens, I really understand where you are coming from. In my family my Mother will only trust my brother with her finances. She has zero reason to not trust me. I really don't care if he takes care of all of the financial business, etc. But he will take care of all of the rest as well. She has told so many lies to cover herself because she knows this is not fair. My brother is her POA, on her checking acounts, executor of her will, etc. The only thing (I am told) I am mentioned in is the will. The sad thing is if your Uncle dies and your Mother is incompetent, you will have to go to court to be appointed guardian. Please do some research on the mess that can be, not to mention expense. My brother told me if he dies, I will just have to go to court to get guardianship....Ha, Ha. There is no gurantee the court will even appoint me as guardian. What I want is to be at least an alternate on my Mom's POAs in case of my brother's death. So far, no go. I have taken the tough love approach. I haven't talked to her in four months and will not until she comes to her senses.
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You might consider refusing to be power of attorney. Eventually, the state will step in and become her guardian. If your mother cannot see that her actions have consequences, she may be suffering from mental illness or from dementia, or both. In any event, you will drive yourself to distraction trying to manage this without bankrupting yourself and ruining your health. Walking away might be a way of managing her.
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My mother gave my uncle Power of Attorney, because she said she does not trust me with ther finances. However, she knows that she can control my uncle, and he will not acknowledge that she needs help with her finances. In the meantime, as the the only child, I am stuck with caring for all of her other needs. She feels it is my duty to care for her, another controlling behavior. Should I just walk away and let my uncle deal with her care?
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PC, what does your uncle say? I think I'd sit down with him and ask him the questions you've asked here.
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Thank you very much for answer. She is more open to the idea of electronic banking. Hopefully, I can set this up this weekend.
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Thank you all for your replies and support. You have provided some good of advice for me to think about and some direction for the next steps.
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