I've been accused of stealing from my dad, but I'm not. What can I do?

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I've been accused of stealing money from my 82 year old father. My wife and i are powers of attorney for him. We pay his bills using our own money and then use his to pay us back. So his bank statements always show purchases in our area, and not his. We have a caregiver company that comes in every other day to help him. Now because we missed one payment to this company ,they have placed a guardian over him and temp blocked our power of attorney rights.We are not thieves and did not, or intend to steal from him

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The problems explained in this discussion are all too common, and put an extra burden on the good people who have stepped up to help a loved one. But when you step back and look at the situation from the viewpoint of third parties, you can see how misunderstandings get started.

The adult child here who takes care of their father explains how "We pay his bills using our own money and then use his to pay us back." This practice is a prescription for confusion. At a minimum, you should have a separate checking account that takes in your father's income and disburses payment for his expenses. This is the simplest way to keep a clear record of how his money is being spent. Mingling his money with yours, and then paying his expenses from your own account makes it difficult or impossible to see his transactions clearly. The system you are using may require you to disclose information about your own finances to prove that you have done nothing improper.

The problem is compounded as "his bank statements always show purchases in our area, and not his."

If your father's finances involve more than one or two bank accounts you need to make a list of all his accounts, along with his Social Security Retirement Income, dividends, and other income. List the principal balance for each account, and the monthly income it produces. You can call this list: Schedule A.

When you look at Schedule A, you (and anyone else you show the list to) can see how much income your father has each month.

Made another list showing his expenses. Call this chart: Schedule B.
Show the Name of Expense and the expense Amount.

Make a new Schedule A and Schedule B every month, so you can see how your father’s needs are met. If you subtract the expenses paid in Schedule B from the total principal balance of Schedule A, everyone can always see the financial resources that remain available for care.

The Probate Courts in the state where I live (Massachusetts) use a similar format to account for funds of people who cannot manage their own money. You said that a caregiver company "placed a guardian over him" because you missed one payment. You didn't explain how that happened or whether your father received due process. Hopefully your family's finances won't become part of public probate proceedings.

Using an organized system to keep your father's funds separate from yours can provide a better way.
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Before we received guardianship, I was accused of stealing from my mother. The stock certificates were sitting on the kitchen countertop. It was all in her mind.
When I made my first accounting to the judge, I was accused of stealing from my mother because I did what you do - I wrote checks from my account and used mother's account to cover what I had written. It was totally legit and I had a full accounting with receipts. I learned to write checks from mother's account only and I made that check for each individual receipt. In the beginning, there were quite a few check as repairs were being made on her house, but it sure was simpler than explaining - line by line - to the attorneys and the judge.
I staple every receipt and invoice on a paper in a book and write the check number on the bottom of the page. this way my pages coincide with the bank statements.
I was never given instructions as to how to do my accounting and had to learn the hard way. Hang in there.
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What kind of an agency institutes their own guardian and overrides a POA?! I work in private duty healthcare, for an agency, and I have never heard of this before. Did you sign a contract with this agency? Did the contract stipulate that if you missed a payment they would take this kind if action?

I understand why you pay your dad's bills the way you do, I'm sure it's much simpler that way. Can you show this agency your dad's bills, show then how much they are a month, and then show them your statements and how you pay his bills with your money and then reimburse yourself from your dad's account? It should be fairly easy to provide this information as figures don't lie.

Get a copy of your dad's monthly bank statement and a copy of your own and then just follow the money transactions.

What do you have to do to get this agency's hooks out of you? Do it and then find another agency. This is not standard practice for a nursing agency.
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Great advice, everyone.

I'm beginning to wonder if there's anyone on the site that HASN'T been accused of theft at some point...
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No good deed goes unpunished! 4 years ago I was working part time and staying at my parents house 3 days a week helping my mom care for my dying father. I did this 3 months. It was hard work mentally and physically. The day before my father's funeral I was accused of stealing thousands of dollars from their house. I was devastated and didn't see my family for three months. I was finally exonerated when my sister who was my best friend was caught on camera 7 times going into my mom's safe deposit box. I still have nightmares about this.
I had promised my dying father I would take care of my mother. I moved her next to me 3 years ago and am P.O.A. I never touch her accounts, but do all of her shopping. I log everything, date everything and log every check she writes for me. I don't ever want to go through being falsely accused again. It's one of the most horrible feelings in the world. We help out of love and set our own lives aside for a time and have to live with being blamed for something we would never do! Good luck to you. Remember you are doing a good thing and you will have a special place in heaven waiting for you, see you there :)
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Time to speak to an elder-law attorney. What a shame.
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I have never heard of a company placing a guardian over someone without a court order with you in attendance. Fire this company immediately, and have documents for all disbursements from your account paying his bills. Your POA is still in effect since your father did not rescind it, so use it to fire this company. They are over stepping their rights. Pay them what you owe them and get someone else to care for your father. If you have to, hire an attorney to take them to court and ask for damages. This is bizarre.
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This is a tough one. Because Elder Financial Abuse is on the rise, or at least the awareness of it is on the rise, caregivers are often suspected of stealing whether or not they actually are. I have a sister who has stolen thousands of dollars from our mother. She does a lot for our mother, even though our mom lives in a very nice retirement home. Somewhere along the line, my sister started spending our mom's money on herself for all sorts of things. The biggest mistake we siblings made after our father died (there are three of us girls who were on the POA), was not having a specific plan for managing Mom's money. There were no receipts kept, no monthly accountings, only trust.… Big mistake. I trusted my sister, along with the other sister, to take good care of our mother's finances. Definitely a big mistake on my part. I believe that many caregiver children convince themselves they are not taking advantage of their elderly parents, while at the same time are spending some of the money on themselves. They feel entitled. Both of my sisters and my mother, because she doesn't really understand, have cut me off. I have no contact with them anymore. Am I going to pursue this in the courts? You bet I am. My mother could live many more years, and her money will be gone before she is if this continues.

If people don't want their elderly parent's money to be stolen by their sibling and if caretakers don't want to be falsely accused, make sure everything is done legally and all the bases are covered in the first place. It's sad, but trusting family is not enough.

As far as a temporary guardianship goes, a judge can order it while an investigation into the Financial Elder Abuse of a person is going on.
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I'm shocked and much appreciate everyone's experience here. I also pay out of my own bank account, then get reimbursed from my father. It is time to get a separate account and separate credit card to handle my parents affairs. You all here by sharing are helping so many people. THANK YOU.
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Yobuzz - Something is just being left out in this. Guardianship or Conservatorship (what it is called depends on your state) is a legal process that requires a hearing before a judge to obtain & then afterwards has required hearings &/or filings with the court as to how the person's funds are being used/spent. This is all public record too. You don't just send someone a letter saying "OK I'm now their guardian". So just what is the backstory on all this?

If the person is in imminent danger to themselves or others, then they can become an "ward of the state" with someone given temporary G/C. Usually this is done together with a police action or APS report that shows immediate risk or need. There will be follow-up hearings on all this in court to do a permanent G/C or not if one is not needed. Could it be that the health care service has been named as temporary G/C till the court hearings determine who is to be named?

You mention not being there so you live in another city or another state??, so if certified or registered letters were sent on whatever for your dad would you even be aware? Like if Dad hasn't been paying his bills, or taxes or other items that could put him to have judgements to tax liens would you know about these things? Or Dad unable to take his medications? Most of the time a G/C will need to be a legal resident of the county in which the elder lives. I've been executrix twice and spend more hours in probate court that I could ever imagine and probate is where G/C hearing are held….just so often family who could be a good G/C were not ever even considered because they lived out of state or in another city. The judge is pretty well God and he fully expects someone to be able to be there, present whatever at his terms and right now. I bet there has been something that you weren't there for and so the health provider was named or more likely a vetted by the state G/C who now has turned all daily care and expenses over to the agency that Dad already has a relationship with.

You need an attorney and be prepared to pay out of your clearly shown to be your money for this. I'd say 10-20K to do G/C at this point. It has to be someone with experience in probate & G/C. There will likely be a short small list of attorneys who are good at this. Probate is open-court so all records are public, you can likely go on-line to the county courthouse and scroll through the filings to find the last couple of years of probate filings. Look for the G/C ones and who the attorney's were - it will be indicated on the description of the document (which you pay a fee for to get the whole document and this is usually a very cheap immediate download). the same attorney names will come up - these are the guys you want to hire. they know the system and more importantly know the judges.

You will have a whole set of problems with how you have been using Dad's funds.
You have been "commingling funds" which is very much frowned upon at best or looks like financial shenanigan's at worst. You will be at a disadvantage in court because of this as the DPOA is expected to do a "due diligence fiduciary duty". Missing the payment showed you failed in your duty. To establish that you have not been stealing you will need to do essentially a checkbook register with receipts or other documentation for every check that you have paid yourselves from Dad's money. Both your attorney & the court will need to see this and have it filed to support your ability to be in dad's life in the future and be named G/C or rather have your attorney named as the G/C but you work with them on dad's behalf. I'd get on this asap as I would imagine your ability to get to dad's banking will be shut off pretty soon if not already done.

Oh also if you & your spouse have any issues you need to let your attorney know from the get-go. The judge can do a full background including credit reports on the persons requesting to be G/C. So if there is something there you are kinda toast on being appointed. Like your kid has a juvee record or you have had a foreclosure or other debt issues, you will not be named. The judge will name a vetted by the court & on the judges' list attorney or professional trained G/C to oversee for Dad.

When my mom was doing her updated legal well over a decade ago, her estate attorney (before elder law even became the speciality it is now) had mom do a "Guardianship in Case of Incapacity" statement in which she named me to be this. The attorney said it needed to be done for a couple of reasons….it gave me a trump card to use for the day (and he said it would happen) that mom in a fit of pique would say the "I'm removing you as DPOA" stuff and then also that I am to be her G/C even though I did not live in her city or even in her state. It clearly establishes intent. So for others reading this look into having this document done if allowed in your state and added to their DPOA, MPOA, will & other legal.
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