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MIL has run out of money and about a year ago asked her two kids for help. (She does get a good SS payment each month and some public assistance). At first this was split evenly and the amount was manageable until my spouse's sibling stopped contributing. Now it can be very difficult for us some months as my spouse works in sales and commission is very unpredictable. MIL asked me to help her apply for renewal of her aid, and through that process I became aware of her monthly expenses.Basically I found that it would be reasonable for her to manage all her expenses with us contributing half of what we have been. Would she have to be a little more careful with some things? Yes but I do not feel the limitations are unreasonable. I explained our financial needs and at first she was willing to work with me; we basically did the checkbook and paid bills together. It was very beneficial for me to know the cash flow so we could still help her but also pay our own bills when commissions aren't good. After about a month of this, she has told me she doesn't want my involvement anymore, it feels too confining to her. I responded calmly, again explaining our need to manage both her needs as well as ours with a fluctuating income. But inside I am very frustrated and yes, a little resentful. Given both our circumstances, I feel its unfair of her to expect a check from us monthly without us knowing what is really going on. How would you deal with this situation? I am thinking of writing down a budget that would show her how she can pay all her monthly expenses, including rx, groceries, and some spending cash, and need only half the amount we've been giving her. We'll be happy to give her more when commissions are good. On the other hand I do not feel like just blindly writing the check every month any more. She is mentally capable, but does find some things overwhelming (like the aid forms I helped her with) and I think is more stressed with finances in general. But she does not want to give up control. And at this point, that is not my goal. I simply need to know what the cash flow is, so to gauge exactly how much assistance she does require at the end of the month. What should my next steps be?

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I work as a Professional Daily Money Manager and about half of my clients are seniors. The biggest issue for them is feeling like they are being controlled by their children. After all these years they resent when their kids try to tell them how to spend their money. For that reason, they often don't tell their kids when they need help. Many times, that is why someone like me gets brought into the picture. It is a way to have a neutral party make sure the bills are overseen and can talk to the parent about their finances while the kids can stay out of it and it keeps the relationship in tact without resentment and stress. In your case, since you are contributing to her financial support it is perfectly reasonable that you would want to know where the money you are giving her is going, especially if it is somewhat challenging for you to give her the money each month. My suggestion would be, since you already know her spending requirements, to let her know that you can only afford to give her say $300 a month, or whatever it is, without putting yourselves in financial jeopardy and stick to it. Tell her that you are happy to help her sit down and do a budget to see how she can afford to live on that and/or are more than happy to help her pay her bills and that you will do it together so she is still involved, but you really can't afford to do more. Explain you will do it without judgement, and stick to that. If she spends more than she has, that isn't your issue. You simply say that she went over her budget this month so she will have to look at where her money went so that she doesn't run into the same problem again. It might be helpful to find a daily money manager in your area who can sit down and negotiate this situation for you. Even if you can't afford to hire someone to come every week or month, you could have someone come in one time and sit with her to find out what spending is important to her or vital to her survival and help her set up a budget to see what she can afford to live on, understanding what money she has coming in and what your contribution will be. That way, you can stay out of that part of it and she won't feel like you are trying to control her.
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I agree on getting the DPOA. This needs to be done before she gets so bad that you can't get her to sign it OR that heaven forbid, she lets someone ELSE be her DPOA. I wouldn't give her money if I couldn't see the financial flow..and she shouldn't expect you to either.
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When my mil was still living in her own home I slowly took over her finances because she was still able to write a check but was having a lot of difficulty doing it. What helped the explanation was that we do online banking and her account was added to the rest so when her bills came in I sat with her while she watched me pay her bills, she was still a part of the process and I knew the money flow. It's so easy, convenient.......you can present this however you want to convince your mil if this is something you might want to try. If you are the "finance person" in the family, then perhaps you can both sit down with her and let her know that X amount is what you are able to give her every month. That's it. You don't have anymore to give her. The control of finances is a part of the independence issue that the elderly fight to not lose, unfortunately it happens and at some point help is needed. Why should your financial needs be ignored just to make mil happy? Something else to think about is whether either sibling has POA....if not, it's time to start thinking about that before it gets too late and mil doesn't have the mental capacity to sign the paperwork.
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I would think your husband needs to firmly communicate with your mom the amount of money you are able to give is all that you will do and that he will help her manage her money/checkbook as you and she have been doing. His mother - his problem.
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