freshair76 Asked August 2012

How can I find a good hourly rate financial planner/elder law attorney and be brave enough to let the family pieces fall where they may?

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My mother had a living will made when my father died in 1997. She also appointed an executrix, (my sister), and 3 POAs, (all three of us siblings). I have read that this is a very poor set up. Laws have also changed a lot in 15+ years. My siblings seem to only be concerned about inheritence and not so much about Mom's care.
I live at home with Mom and work as a hospice aide full time. I have seen what can happen to the elderly if they don't have their financial and care ducks in a row. Mom's signs of dementia are deepening and I am the "IT" Sibling.
I have tried to have conversations with my siblings regarding Mom's care and safety but I'm not getting very far. Family history is that I am the caregiving peace maker and others keep their power by remaining silent and sitting on their cards until I shut up and go away. I don't want to lose my brother and sister and I'm tired of holding the bag. I'm exchausted at work and home. It is difficult for me to be pleasant with Mom.
My sister wants to use an attorney who is a friend of hers. She seems to have all the faith in the world in her but I think it is naive of my sister because she, (the attorney) does not specialize in elder care. I also think it would be naive for me to agree to use her BECAUSE she is my sister's friend. My sister has distanced herself from me again, as she does in times of stress.

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jeannegibbs Nov 2012
Catjohn22, one way to put several people on a POA document is to make one of them primary and the others back-up, in case the primary is not able/willing to perform. But it is also possible to list all the persons as primary, that is, that all of them have to sign off on all decisions. This can cause lots of problems, but nevertheless that is how some POA documents are written.
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Catjohn22 Nov 2012
I find your explanation rather confusing. My in-laws had similar plans put in place about the same time that your mother did. They went through an elder care attorney, but their documents were done differently from what you seem to be describing. Does your mom have separate health care and financial POA's in place? If not, she should. Also, is there not one person who is primary POA, with the other two persons being successors in case of inability or refusal of primary POA to serve? And I'm assuming your sister is the executor of her estate, since you said she was executrix. Before her cognition worsens, your mother should be helped to choose an eldercare attorney with whom she is comfortable.Then the attorney can proceed, based on your mother's wishes, to put in place all appropriate current documents.

There is one sentence in your question that particularly bothers me. It is the one stating: "It is difficult for me to be pleasant with Mom." Is this because of your disagreement with your sister, or because of your exhaustion and frustration, or both? As the child with whom she is living, this is not a healthy situation, which I'm sure you realize. I would suggest that you find an objective third party to come in and try to do some mediation or bringing your mother and you and your siblings to a place of agreement and understanding. You may be able to find someone who can do this through your local agency on aging, otherwise there are qualified people who can be found through the internet.

Continuing down the path of disagreement between you and your sister and other siblings, and possibly your mom, is not going to serve any of you well, especially your mom. I hope that, before any more damage is done, you will get the help you need to resolve this in the best interest of everyone. Once decisions have been made and all the supporting documents are in place, and you have some supports in place, it should provide a great deal of relief to you all.
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jeannegibbs Aug 2012
Pull up your big girl panties and do what needs to be done.

Your mother deserves the best care, best advice, and best service she can get. What she needs right now is someone specializing in estate planning and/or elder law. While she is still competent to act on her own behalf, she needs to consult a professional with the training and experience to give the best advice. That is probably not your sister's friend.

You cannot act unilaterally in selecting a lawyer ... the joint POA is tying your hands. (Can you see why joint POA is generally discouraged?) BUT mother can act in her own behalf without consulting any of you. You live with her. Presumably you have some influence. You can help her select a lawyer and encourage her to listen to his or her advice and make up her own mind about how to get her affairs in order and make the best arrangements for a time when she cannot act for herself.

Forget the conversations with your sisters at this point. Be glad that they are distancing themselves from you (at least for the present). Focus on conversations with Mother.

You know what has to be done. Get 'er done.

Good luck!
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