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My father is in the hospital on a vent and can't speak. He's been diagnosed with severe dementia, so even when he's lucid, he's not considered able to pay his bills or give us the ability via POA to pay his bills. Home and school taxes are due, and none of the family can cover the costs on our own - does anyone know any way we can access the account to pay bills in his name? Is there any other solution you can suggest here?

PS: His wife passed away not long ago, and we have no POA. Temporary guardianship appointment is about 30 days away, if he lives that long. :-\

Thanks in advance.

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N1K2R3, That is funny, Dr. Drew says that? Don't watch him or the bald guy. You are right on the money. My Mom and Dad were both very nasty and cruel to me. Verbal only, and you are correct no conversation where my point of view was ever considered. Tought love is the only thing Mom will understand and my brother as well. I have tried everything else. And you are correct that nastiness begets nastiness. This is so sad but true. Nice chatting with you.
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Hummm. Madge you are correct, failure IS a great teacher, albeit a painful one.
However, (and I don't know you), I detect a tone of resentment in your post.....a kind of "I'll show you" attitude. Subtle nastiness creates resentment and is transferable from parent to child, and then child to parent.... For example, the parent who instead of telling his son to stop playing the electric guitar at night, instead walks over to the wall and pulls the plug.......no conversation, no one-on-one talk. That smirk on the parent's face will come back to do it's damage someday. The converse is also true: Kindness begets kindness and hopefully understanding.........Have I been watching too much Dr. Drew?
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I didn't either until my kids grew up and I saw what a mess some families are. The ones who let the teens rule. I was no badass by any means. I got lucky and my kids are good. But I know many who are still making their parents dance to their tune. I began to notice how elderly parents can do some of the same thing. Just be obstinate for the fun of it. Want to control when it is time to let go a bit. Failure is a great teacher, failure to pay your bills, you lose your utilities. Failure to be nice to your kids, they don't visit. I have seen people who try and try to please a mean old parent and i think the parent gets some joy out of seeing their power. Let them see they need help. At some point most do.
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Hello Madge: I don't believe in "tough love".
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N1K2R3, Sometimes tough love works on parents as well as teenagers. Some parents have to be in "trouble" to ask for help and cooperate. When the lights go out and the water is off, they may sit up and say, well I DO need help after all. When MaggieSue explains a guardian can place her Mom in a Nursing Home because she has lost her rights, she might sit up and take notice.

As my son-in-law the lawyer told me, make a good faith effort and let it go.
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Madge: You said, " Why sign a check at all?" "Let the chips fall where they may".
Such an attitude reflects inconsistency. If you want to keep the lights on, the water flowing and the tax man off the property, someone has got to pay the bills.
I'd set up an online bill paying system. Most banks have them. Just start entering the bills and pay them. Do this with the banks persmission, of course. Your name or signature does not have to appear anywhere, no P O A required.
Am I correct on this issue? Anyone? ( I married a doctor, not a lawyer, so my expertise is limited to medicine not law.)
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Of course my mother is within her legal rights. She can do what she wants with her papers and she did. She'll be in a mess if she gets incapacitated, but she doesn't understand that. I agree the parent has a right to take away the POA and the child has the right to do nothing. I like the attorney's attitude, make an effort and then let it go. Enough is enough.
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You definitively need some legal advice. Since the law varies from state to state I cannot offer a specific answer to this problem. I am a retired attorney in Oregon. In my state there is a distinction between a guardianship (of a person) and a conservatorship (of property & possessions). It is possible to have both. So, before you can do much of anything you need to speak to your family lawyer and if you do not have one the state bar assn will give you a few names of those who can help.
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You might call the tax divisions in question and have them note on the bill your parent's illness and that arrangements are being made to appt guardianship. Also, with my Mom's account that no one but she was named on, I was able to set up an online acct to pay her bills and utilities by using her checkbook and receiving mail at her address.
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Why help someone who doesn't want your help. Why sign a check at all. Let the chips fall where they may. I have read too much about difficult parents who are difficult just to be, well, difficult. It is ultimately the parents right to take away a POA and it is ultimately the child's right to do nothing. It goes both ways.
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MaggieSue: So your mother got "cute" and decided to revoke her POA. Well, for starters , she is within her legal rights to do so. If she can't write checks, you can fill out the checks, and she can put her X mark in the signature section with the bank's permission. I may suggest that you only write checks for utility bills and insurance checks for now. Don't worry about medical bills.....yet.
Does she have an Executor appointed yet? Is it you? Don't worry about the Estate until she deceases. Worry about keeping the lights on.
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Maggiesue, If she doesn't understand what she was doing then it probably shouldn't have been changed. Without the POA's you would need to seek guardianship. This is no easy task. I just spoke to my son-in-law, an attorney in family practice, about this very subject this morning. Maybe if you explain what you have to do to get guardianship for her, she may change her mind.

If she has a guardian appointed by the courts she will lose all her rights, someone will make financial decisions for her and they can admit her to AL or NH if they so desire. They are also paid for everything they do. She basically will not have a family member taking care of her. She will not be making any decisions nor will you.

That said, I feel your pain. I have been trying to get my Mom to put me as an alternate on her POAs, etc. No, just my brother. If he dies or is incapacitated, she will have no one if she is incapacitated. It would be up to me to spend alot of money, go to court, get a lawyer, maybe be appointed and the list goes on. I told both my brother and Mom what would happen if brother dies and mom has no POAs. They did nothing. So as my son-in-law told me, I have made a good faith effort and now I just walk away.

Explain to your Mom the consequences of not having these papers in order and if that doesn't work, you have done all you can unless you want to seek guardianship at some point.

What makes me angry with parents like this is they act like they are doing YOU a favor by putting you on these papers. At best this is a hard job. For them to make it harder is just plain stupidity. They sould be grateful to have a child who wants to take care of things for them. Good luck to you and seek advice about guardianship and the problems of that.
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My mother got cute and decided to revoke her POA. She was mad at me for talking about assisted living. Now she has no way for anyone to pay her bills if she is incapacitated. She tells me to contact her bank. But I doubt they will do anything if she can't sign checks. I figured I'd just let her whole estate go into default since she has been so stupid. I don't know what would be done about medical expenses and what would happen if she needed to go to a NH. I guess I could contact APS.

Sometimes I worry, but mostly I just try to put it out of my mind. This is what comes of having old people make monitary decisions. She had it all set up properly about 8 years ago, then decided to tinker with her estate plan because she got angry. The sad thing is she doesn't understand what she is doing. She has lost executive functioning in her brain due to dementia so she can't plan. Now she just reacts to situations.

What a dopey situation. I'm sick of it all. But this is the way the law works.
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Madge, You do have an interesting family. Your Mom could shop in FL also. There's fabulous shopping in Sarasota, Tampa Bay and I guess on the east coast of Florida also. She doesn't know what she's missing by not going to Florida with you. There are lots of 80 year-olds there, and they all seem to be enjoying life in February and March..
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I agree 45 minutes is not that bad, my husband does that everyday. My brother is selling the country home" by owner" since it is probably at least 150K overpriced and in a really bad school district. He is not wealthy enough to have two homes. This is just bad judgement but typical of my brother and SIL.

I live 700 miles away but when Mom needs someone I can be there in a day. I am retired and kids all live in other states. She could spend the winter with me in Florida but won't. All she likes to do is shop, buy and take back. Another funny story, yesterday she went to JCPenny, took back a pair of shoes. They told her she couldn't return anything else for 130 days! I have no idea why except she buys and takes back daily. If you go visit her she only wants you for two or three days, she has to go shopping, .......alone. A little OCD maybe? She is 81. Geez.
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Well......................That's just the way it is. Let them run back and forth. I, too, live outside a major southern city, and 45 minutes is not a long commute at all. Many of us here have two homes, one in the "country" and one in the city.
His decision making, however is flawed. Real estate is not selling right now, and he should stay put in one or the other and just watch the listing, keeping in touch with the listing agent. At least your mom lives in the pathway of the two homes.
What about you, Madge? Is it possible that you can get to your mother's side or are you too far away for frequent visits?
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N1K2R3, just a little "for instance" story. My brother and sister in law have a beautiful, fully paid for home in the country outside a major southern city. They bought another home closer to work (it was a 45 minute drive from the country house) in a very nice up scale neighborhood. SIL and brother's thinking, I will sell the country house (45 minuets from civilization) for the same price I bought the up scale house (which is in the best school districts, near everything new and nice) Basically we will just trade one for the other............................right. In this market thye are asking 375K for a house listed on zillow for 178K. Now, they can't sell it and he has to run every weekend back and forth keeping up the old house and new house. My Mom lives between the two, and do you think she gets a visit, rarely. This is how he makes decisions, understand my anxiety?
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Madge: What a guy.
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N1K2R3, true, this does give me less to do and worry about. He is overweight, too much on his plate as it is, and doesn't have a clue about taking care of things. He does nothing for Mom now. But she will get what she gets.
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Madge: Don't scream, just accept the fact that your mother only wants one person ( your brother) as her POA. Hopefully he's in good health and has knowledge of the process.
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Judy C, what do you do when your parent won't cooperate? My brother is POA and I want to be alternate in case he dies or doesn't have the time to deal with things. Mom will not put me on anything. I have talked to her until I am blue in the face about how hard it is to get guardianship. I never want to have to do that. She just won't add me. i have explained to her "well at least add someone". No go. She doesn't want anyone knowing her financial business except her son. I could just scream.
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Thats Right people.......Get DURABLE POA.,,,Get Payable Upon Death on the bank account
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PROPERTY TAXES are higher on the totem pole than a house payment. In otherwords, All property taxes MUST be Paid before a house can be sold, including before a bank foreclosing can take repossession. A lot of the reasons why banks are not selling very many foreclosed homes. i.e. property taxes are past due and the City/County gets paid first. WHEN people walk away from their mortgages, they have a separate judgment.i.e. property tax liens. Serious. ALSO i have never had a problem calling a utility co. or bill collection and getting the bill paid,,,,,its when you start asking questions about the account. The companies WILL take your payment. just pay them and not ask questions.
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Sadly, there is no quick-fix to this problem. This is why the issue of "estate planning" is considered so important. Getting a guardianship takes time -- and it should -- because it's a very serious issue, and should not be taken lightly. Although in your case it may be obvious that your father's physical condition merits this, many times it's questionable, and at least 2 physicians have to agree that the person in question mentally incapacitated. Physicians are highly reluctant to do that because of the legal implications. (We live in a very litigious society!) If you had a POA, you would have had to ensure that you had a durable POA, because there are POAs that are invalid if the person is incapacitated -- it doesn't make sense, but that's what they say. And a POA is no longer in effect when someone dies. If your father's account/s were joint, that would make things easier, because the co-owner could access the account. Additionally, upon his death, any joint account (depending on how the account is set up), would pass to that co-owner without probate. Estate planning isn't death -- it's about anything that might require someone to need assistance in the event that they can't act on their own -- and it can make life immensely easier for the living upon death. It can help avoid probate and expenses. While your situation does not seem to be resolvable short of having an attorney who might have connections, hopefully you and your family will learn from this so that no one else will have to experience this. What you're going through is bad enough without having to worry about paying bills and accessing accounts. My prayers are with you.
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If the bills do not get paid, he gets a bad credit score..... not a real issue for someone on deaths door so relax. This will get done in time to be responsible.
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I would check with the bank and see if anyone is signatory on his account besides him so bills could be paid. Best Wishes!
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P O A is a lot simpler than Guardianship. It has to be done when the donor is lucid and in agreement with the POA arrangement. That time having passed, the next best thing is an attorney's request to the court that you be appointed Guardian. The accounting has to be meticulous.
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Seconded - thank you so much for your thoughtful answer, igloo. Very helpful.
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thank you igloo for this answer. I have been told by my brother if anything happens to him, I will have to get guardianship of my Mom. She refuses to put anyone other than my brother on any financial papers (she is 81). I about flipped out because I know this is expensive and takes alot of time. I would love to send this to him if he would only read it. She would just do nothing. At least the state will appoint someone and spend her money. I am at the point of just saying to h@#* with it.
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Who is the attorney that is working with your family for guardianship hearing? I'd start there to see what the feasible options are for you in your state.

If you don't have one and are planning on going into the hearing on your own, I'd really suggest that you get an attorney who deals with guardianship or conservatorship. These issues can be sticky. I've never been a G/C but have been executrix for 2 aunts estates - these go through probate court which is where G/C hearings are usually done also- so I found out alot about G/C while spending years dealing with being executrix in & out of probate court.

Unfortunately since there was no advance planning, you will need to go the route of getting Guardianship/Conservatorship for your family member to do anything legally. You have the right to go to court to petition to become their legal guardian -- although that doesn't mean the arrangement will automatically come to pass.

To be appointed a legal guardian, also called a conservator, you first need to file papers with the local court, clearly describing the person’s physical or mental condition and inability to make decisions. If there is an imminent need, then you need to document what it is and why it is imminent/emergency. Property taxes due usually doesn't rise to that level but a foreclosure would - get my drift? The court will notify other family that the papers have been filed and that a judge will be deciding whether or not to grant the request. You will be asked to provide that list – don’t get cute and leave anyone off. Keep in mind the hearing notice is published in the newspaper and in many county also posted on-line, so people can find out. If his recently deceased wife has children from a previous marriage and if there is any community property issues within her will and her estate hasn't finished probate then her children or heirs need to be on the list of contacts for the court hearing too. Other family can file letters either supporting or contesting you being named as G/C.

If you apply to be the G/C, you may be asked to provide your & your spouse personal and financial data that is entered into public record. The court can X your name for police records. Your "none of the family can cover the costs on our own" can be a red flag for the judge as he can view the family as a risk to deal with $ appropriately.

The G/C judge does NOT have to appoint you or a family member as the G/C. If there is family friction, they can appoint an outsider to manage the elder's affairs and that person will be paid to do so out of the person’s assets. You really need to present a united front that is all kum-ba-ya on their care & finances. If you don't, the Court has the right to remove them from all family members and make him a Ward of the State. The judge has a list of attorney's who are bonded and experienced with G/C. Often those attorney's have paralegals that sit the day in probate waiting to get appointed. The judge can appoint one of these attorney's to be the G/C for the elder and they are paid from the elder's assets. The appointment can be temporary or permanent. You want to do whatever you can to not have this happen.

This is sticky, you'll likely need to hire an experienced lawyer to help. To begin your search for the best lawyer for the job, contact the local bar association and ask whether it has a lawyer referral service that includes those who specialize in conservatorships or elder law. You can also contact the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for a referral to its members in your area. Good luck.
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