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I know the importance of updating Wills, having POA you trust, etc. But today my family is faced with the unexpected.


An elderly family friend died yesterday. She had Alz and had been in a nursing home for several years. Many years ago Mum was her POA, as E could no longer handle her finances and was the victim of financial elder abuse by her son. Mum went on a holiday and while Mum was away E's son convinced her to remove Mum as POA, because he could not longer access Bank of Mum. As she was deemed to be incapable, eventually her funds came under the purview of the Public Trustee. But her actions created a huge rift in an old friendship.


Today Mum got a call from the Public Trustee, E died yesterday and Mum is the Executrix of the will. Mum's partner of 26 years died in November and she is the Executrix of his limited estate. Now she at age 84 is expected to be the Executrix of a complex estate, while grieving for her loss.


Additionally my grandmother's will and trust date from 1982. A family friend who was in his late 40's was the back up trustee. He is now in his 80's and is not capable of fulfilling the role.


So my public service announcement is, please when you update your will, check that your Executrix/Executor is capable of fulfilling the duties. In the case of E her will was prepared over 20 years ago when her mind was sound. When she removed Mum as POA, she did not remove her as Executrix.

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Good point about the importance of keeping things updated legally. Just a thought, I know it has worked for us, the executor/executrix can always have an "agent" of their own to help with the duties too. My mom is the executrix of my grandmothers estate (she passed years ago but there is still quite a bit of land) which has been a very long process for various reasons and while the attorney is "co-executor" as my mom has been less able to handle things my brother has stepped in to help. He and I are both POA for my mom and I'm not sure if that technically gives us the power to handle her Executor duties as well but it sure seems like it does. Different countries/states may have differing rules.
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Thank you for this reminder. We created our wills when our son was young and named my husband's sisters executors and his brother as guardian. Things have changes one sister passed in August and brother 2 years ago. Of course son is now grown and guardian is no longer needed. Seeing this I have talked with spouse and we are leaving surviving sister as executor because I don't think son (even at 26) could handle things and SIL will get it done.
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This is a great reminder to all of us, and very helpful even to those of us who are at the setting up of our estates/POA. Keeping things updated isn't always easy, but it is necessary.
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You can refuse to be the executor if you don’t feel you can fulfill the duty.
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Good advice but assuming one can find someone trustworthy, willing, and capable of taking over these duties. Not everyone has a plethora of good people standing in line.
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tothill, another big thank you for your PSA! Wow this sounds like a lot to handle, sending my best wishes to you all.
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Update,

Mum has already requested help. The Public Trustee as staff that can help her. but they do not know who to contact for the funeral, the people who mattered in E's life long ago.

With my grandmother's Trust, when I called the back up trustee 18 months ago, he had no recollection of ever having the role and was happy to step away. We have to have the existing trustee step aside, then we can collapse the trust. The existing trustee is 90 and has not properly managed the Trust.
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Your Mom can turn down the Executrix. Someone else can be Administrator assigned by probate. It can be a lawyer. A family member. Mom can say she is not able to do it. Same with your grandmoms trustee. He maybe able to turn over his responsiblity to a lawyer or someone else.
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Tothill, excellent advice.

In the Power of Attorney, and in my Will, the "Elder Law Attorney" required I have two names.... one to be the person in charge, and a back-up name in case the first person is unable or no longer wants to hold the "job".

My parents Power of Attorney had each other as their POA, which is normal, but my parents were now in their 90's, and Mom could no longer act as POA for Dad. That came to light when Dad needed to go to the ER. I told Dad that I cannot represent him, that only Mom could. Mom didn't want to be with Dad in the ER because she was now almost blind and had lost most of her hearing. Then and only then did Dad realized he needed to update the POA and the other legal documents.

The Elder Law Attorney still had Mom and Dad represent each other, but now my name was added as a back-up.
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The problem of course is that many people live to a great age but lose the capacity to keep updating their Wills, POAs etc, Alz can last 20 years and even physical limitations can make the process difficult.
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I don't remember the details, but I hear a bell ringing somewhere about what to do if you're unable to perform as executor - there is a way round this, I should have a look online. In the circumstances I'm sure the relevant authorities would be sympathetic.
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I'm sorry for the loss of your family friend, Tothill.

Outstanding advice and reminder! Thank you.
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Very good advise. review and update frequently.
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