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I got a call early this morning and when I answered there was no caller. I saw it was from a relative so I called back and clearly heard a hang up. I feared it was about my aunt in a nursing home, so I sent a text message. Surprisingly he answered my text. It later dawned on me that he wanted my answer in writing. He asked about a withdrawal I made from my aunt's bank account because "the facility" was questioning it.


I replied that they can ask me directly (I am POA) and provided my contact information and address (which he has). To further cooperation, I explained that when I reviewed my aunt's bank account she was over the amount of the eligibility for Medicaid, perhaps from the covid stimulus, and I withdrew the amount to maintain her eligibility for the yearly certification. This would be the same response I would give to 'the facility' if they in fact called. This money was spent on miscellaneous items she might appreciate.


Since this relative asked about the small amount I withdrew, I asked about the larger amount which was withdrawn with the stimulus deposited. As the POA, I have no problem being transparent. He said his withdrawal was not the amount in question and not relevant. I doubt that my cousin uses these words and felt it was someone from adult protective services asking these questions. The facility director is more friendly with my relative as the medical POA, however has treated me with suspicion. As the financial POA, I have tried to stick with the responsibility at hand and dismiss the negative suspicion.


I have a full plate with my mother, this covid, and her home, along with maintaining my sanity. I communicate with my aunt weekly by phone but there is not much more I can do than make sure her bills are paid. It's such a sad situation.


How should I follow up on the money my cousin withdrew without explanation to me as the POA.

Imho, as Financial PoA, you have every right to an answer on the withdrawn funds. Players sent.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Pasa18,
As financial POA, you have every right to know why cousin withdrew money!
You are legally responsible for Aunts money!!

I guess I am wondering why anyone other than you has access to Aunts account? That needs to stop!

I would suggest you talk with an elder care attorney or someone from her local Council on Aging.
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Reply to xrayjodib
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Soutnds to me that too many hands are in the pot.

There should only be one POA and One Person allowed to withdraw funds and that person can be held responsible.

There should be no question regarding withdrawals from the Facility, as it's none of their business.

As far as your cousin goes, whomever takes out money should be written in a ledger that shows what it was used for along with receipts.

I have a 96 yr old Dad that I am his POA znd Executrix of his Will and what I did was just add my name to his Bank Act and write checks or do auto bill pay and that is your record of spending. In case anyone else would like to know.

The only people you would need to show proof to in the end after the Loved One dies, would be whoever is in the Will that was being left part of his estate
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Isabelsdaughter Nov 27, 2020
I agree
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I would suggest trying to develop better relationships with both cousin who has medical POA ad facility administration. Maybe write a monthly letter to cousin that details how money is being spent - yes, every expenditure. Transparency builds trust.
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disgustedtoo Nov 27, 2020
1) clearly cousin isn't interested in a better relationship. cousin is the one being sketchy and refusing to explain the other withdrawal.
2) being financial POA means handling someone's finances as if you were that person. If said person wants to share the info and is competent, fine, but if not, it isn't ANY of cousin's business, relationship or not. As POA it is your responsibility to manage the finances and keep them protected (this includes not sharing the info with others who have NO need to know.)
3) cousin went out of the way to take aunt to the bank and get signed onto the account, without letting OP know. THIS goes against POA and aunt's medical condition (which cousin is blocking so OP can't get pensions redirected.)

Who's not developing relationship here?

From a recent post made by OP, appears that a cousin (likely the previous POA) has depleted aunt's assets before resigning... I think it was a different cousin, but perhaps they are siblings? Whatever the case, these 2 cousins have no business touching aunt's assets except to provide for her care. Clearly they are/were not doing that.
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You are right to be concerned.

I am so sorry!

And I know you took this position to help - as they say, “no good deed goes unpunished.”

You are correct to not answer any questions, in writing or on the phone. The facility is not questioning you, the family is. If they are doing this now, it will likely get worse.

To keep the cleanest records, avoid withdrawing cash (use more transparent forms of payment for goods and services) and make sure every expenditure you make is supported with clear documentation and receipts. Keep meticulous files. Take photos of the receipts because they fade and become invisible in a short time. Keeping perfect files now is much easier than recreating them later.

Don’t do anything inappropriate. In addition to being sued civilly, you could be prosecuted for a crime. If you have any questions about appropriate Medicaid spend downs, consult an attorney and follow the legal advice. Following unsound legal advice won’t get you in trouble like Medicaid fraud charges could if you make the wrong choice without following advice.

If you ever hire help, use a “nanny” payroll company to make appropriate withholdings and IRS reports. This may sound like a pain, but it is actually easier. It will cause less worry in the long run and save you trips to the bank now. If you get sued, the records production will be easier.

As legal POA, you could additionally be held responsible for any inappropriate withdrawal by another party “on your watch.” Clean up the accounts so this is less likely. Once the money is out of the account, you won’t ever be able to get it back.

Don’t put anything in writing, even over text. Know that phone calls could be recorded by the other party. Even if these types of recordings are prohibited in your state, don’t get caught discussing anything about this. The “friends” in your family may be attempting to gather evidence against you for the others. When it comes to money people change.

The heirs of your aunt can sue you, personally, for fraud and negligence (that they allege you are committing now), after her death, even if you do everything correctly now. Attorneys sometimes represent clients on a contingency basis in these types of cases (if there is a worthwhile estate or if you personally have money), so they would have no upfront legal bills in suing you. If you are sued personally, the estate does not cover your legal representation for your personal actions (legal bills are only covered in connection with your job as personal representative/executor, in some states, you can be sued simultaneously in both capacities for the same bad act or mistake (this requires you to hire a different attorney for every capacity in which you are sued).

You write that you are taking care of your Mom too - you can always “bow out” of this responsibility and let someone in your aunt’s family step up to help. They will likely only get worse (and less helpful or generous) as time goes forward.

After you finish this job, you will likely not be on speaking terms with them anyway so adjust your expectations now to save yourself heartbreak later. .
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Pasa18 Nov 27, 2020
I am the heir and cousin has overtime depleted aunts coffers so nothing will be left.
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Since you've mentioned there are other pensions, then conservatorship may be the way you have to go. I haven't had to go the court route, so I don't know if that covers SS as well. If not, you can still apply for rep payee to get full control. That would mean needing 2 new accounts (can't close the existing one with cousin on it unless cousin signs off, which isn't likely.) If SS has to be rep payee, not part of conservatorship, their requirements are that the rep payee account is only for SS funds. The other new account would be needed for other income and assets. Once you have control and open the accounts, the remaining funds can be withdrawn from the current account, down to the minimum to keep the savings account open - perhaps check with that bank as well, to see if once you withdraw you can remove her name from the account using the POA. That way, if they charge when balance is under some minimum, cousin will get the bill! That would be a nice result!

Hopefully there are enough funds to cover the cost of court and legal fees, as it should be her assets that pay for this, not yours. If not, use as much of her funds as possible without leaving her short for the NH fee. Although it might add more to the cost, it might be better to request guardianship as well. This would override cousin's medical POA and eliminate the transparency problem with cousin and medical bills. While it might mean some more contact from NH for your aunt, it should balance out the issues with being kept in the dark.

One other thought... If the other withdrawal was substantial enough, might Medicaid be willing to take cousin to task? Perhaps a call to them to inquire how to handle someone else adding themselves to the account and withdrawing funds would perk their interest...? Unless cousin can be honest, and show the withdrawal was legit and used for your aunt (suspect not, but we're not privy to what went on!), or it was a small amount, let it go, but do proceed with the legal aspects to get full control and have accounts they can't touch. Having a second person meddling in the finances makes managing things MORE difficult and could leave aunt short.

Sorry this has become such a pain. The "experts" all warn to choose wisely for medical and financial representatives, and preferably choose those who can work together. Cousin's responsibility is to your aunt, and making medical decisions, however when there are associated bills, cousin should be able to provide a minimum bit of info, to ensure it is legit, or have the bills sent to you. Being cryptic isn't helping. Sorry to hear about your mom too. Many plates to keep spinning, along with all your "normal" duties makes for hectic life!
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Pasa18 Nov 27, 2020
I just woke up and came to the conclusion that I should contact medicaid.
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Pasa18 replied:

"To get a letter of incompetence from a doctor has been yet another obstacle."

Unclear if you mentioned this as a gate to applying for rep payee or just in general. If it is for concern about applying for rep payee, I can state I did NOT have any doctor's confirmation of mom's dementia. I brought a number of items with me to show I had been handling her financial and other affairs (she was still living in her own condo at that time.) They never looked at or asked to see anything I brought with me. So, if that was a concern about applying, I would suggest going ahead with it.

I also did not have any doctor confirmation when I took over her finances. Two of us were on her primary CU account, which was useful, but we were NOT on a local bank account, where her SS was deposited. Because she couldn't hear well on the phone, SS was rude to me and hung up. I took her to the CU and made change of address so I would get paperwork and checks, and I also made THEM process the SS deposit change (yes, the banks have this capability - they balked until I pointed to their own documentation!) Once that took effect, I took the POA document and her with me to the other bank to close the account and get the balance in a check to deposit in her CU account. They didn't know me from Adam, mom just rifled through her purse and wallet and said nothing. Not a peep out of them, they processed a check and closed the account.

The only time I needed something from a doctor was to get on as rep for her pension (also federal, so stricter requirements and POA was NFG.) THAT took a long time (her previous doc promised but never delivered what I needed despite calling them every month, several times/month.) First letter from new doc wasn't up to snuff. Took almost 2 years to get that worked out!

For conservatorship, the courts can/will likely assign a doctor to examine her to determine her capabilities. Even if you had a doctor letter, they usually bring in another doc, as well as an atty to represent your aunt. A person who is capable can hire their own doc and atty to dispute the request, as can others such as your cousin, if they are disputing, but they have to pay for their own. Not likely your aunt will do this. Cousin, maybe, but it'll cost them!

I don't know how long the court business would take, but you might get the funds safely tucked away quicker through SS and it won't cost anything.
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Pasa18 Nov 26, 2020
Thanks for taking the time to add your experience. I don't remember if I added in my posts that besides the monthly ss, there are two pension accounts. The company and union (I think) hr required a letter of competence before honoring the dpoa. So like you, the letter has never materialized despite my requests and efforts. My cousin and his wife have mpoa and have blocked access to medical information, deceptively feigning cooperation in giving a verbal ok when the medical release needs to be in written form. I can't imagine there is no medical assessment of my aunt's cognition or diagnosis. My aunt would not fight me because she knows I am not in the business of undermining anyone.

Perhaps an emergency conservatorship due to the money transfer from her account would force the medical competence assessment and some investigation of any history of funny business or undue influence. The problem is that this is effecting me.
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If you are POA he is accountable to you. You are not accountable to him. You are responsible for the proper management of your aunt's finances to provide for her care and well being. I was my mother's financial POA and did not report to anyone. One thing that has been suggested in past cases similar to this is that you, as POA, set up a different bank account and transfer her funds so only you have access. You may want to discuss this with the bank and see what they advise.

How did he get the information about your withdrawal? He should not have that IMO.

I hope APS can help you. Let us know how it works out. You have a lot on your plate.
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Reply to golden23
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A financial POA gives you the authority to stand in for your LO, in this case, your aunt, and manage her income and payments (among other potential duties.) It does not negate her ability to make transactions with her account. Since she is in a NH with dementia, you would be handling all of this for her and she wouldn't or couldn't access the account. However, someone of sound mind could have a POA take over most financials, but still be able to make deposits and withdrawals, etc. This clearly isn't the case. Enter cousin, who takes her out of the NH, to the bank, and has her sign him onto the account.

For what purpose? He is the MPOA, and has ZERO need to access her money. If it was a small amount, perhaps let it slide, but if it was 100's or more, I would want to know what this cousin is up to. He's done it once, what's to stop him from doing it again? What happens when he takes so much that she doesn't have enough to cover the NH cost?

IF there was no dementia involved, we could all throw our hands up in the air and say Gee Whiz Auntie, whatrudoing? However, she DOES have dementia. There's no reason for him to be on her account, but sadly whoever processed this at the bank had no clue she has dementia. What's done is done, but it CAN be rectified.

I would still want some reckoning for whatever he took out, as you have to report any/all funds used. That may take some finesse (Medicaid or SS is asking or they may penalize her, think up some good excuse, or CC the letter to the attorney who handled the POAs.)

You likely won't be able to get him off the account, BUT if you go with SS rep payee, once approved they will send the next payment as a live check, you open a special rep payee account, deposit it and notify SS of the account so they can switch back to electronic deposits. No need to close the other account, just use any remaining funds for her NH and/or other needs, until it is 0 balance or whatever minimum amount is required. It'll just sit there.

As I noted in some replies to comments, LEGALLY this is how anyone should manage another person's SS funds, per SS. You would be the only person allowed to access the account - not even auntie can touch it. You could also do conservatorship, but 1) that costs money and you have to report often to the court and 2) applying to be rep payee is FREE, and the reporting is yearly, fairly simple and can be done online, via your own SS account.

NOTE: in one reply you made you mentioned the in person appt with SS. Yes, it has to be in person, BUT it doesn't have to be local to where she lives. Use your own local SS office. That's how I did it for my mother. One visit, answer their questions, wait for approval, open rep payee account, dep 1st check and have SS resume direct deposit thereafter. Report is done yearly, is fairly simple, can be done online via your SS acct, no big deal and it prevents ANYONE else touching her funds. Even auntie can't touch it.

One caveat: When the application is made, they send a letter to you and your LO notifying both of you of this. IF someone is doing something untoward, they may see this and try to take action, such as having your aunt call and refuse the attempt (I forget exactly what was in the letters, but it is notice to allow a person to refuse - probably to prevent some jerk trying to take over when there is no need!)

IF this happens, I would get some legal advice and proceed to find out who is coercing her and/or go for conservatorship. At that point, since she has dementia, clearly someone is up to no good.
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Pasa18 Nov 24, 2020
To get a letter of incompetence from a doctor has been yet another obstacle.

My aunt asked the social worker to put me on her emergency contact list and allow medical info (hipaa). This was when she first arrived from the hospital to the rehab. The sw said "it's too late" she cannot make decisions. I questioned if in time with recovery this could be reassessed. In an emergency, someone is not competent, but this is not necessarily permanent. My aunt was weak but to me, still aware and essentially herself as I've known her. The director seemed unprofessionally annoyed that I would question her 'incapacity'.

When I found out cousin had a mpoa signed just prior to the hospitalization, I aske him if he could sign a medical release. I brought the letter to his home for his signature and his wife (as agents). He signed and his wife seemed offset that I arrived without invitation. She avoided me and did not sign. My cousin said his signature was only needed. The facility denied the medical release without his wife signature. I tried again, nicely, and communicated what was needed. His wife insisted that she called the facility and gave her ok for the medical release.

I met an attorney briefly who required 1k to meet my aunt and 3k as a retainer for conservatorship. I thought the ombudsman could accomplish a new mpoa signing. I travelled again for maybe the third time to meet with the ombudsman and my aunt.

The facility activity director was with my aunt when I arrived and presented effusively his concern for all clients and in particular my aunt. She seemed confused in front of the ombudsman and it was a no go. It could be that she received medication at that time but I would not know or coordinate when she might be lucid because I no information on her medical condition or medication. After the activity director and ombudsman left, I stayed with my aunt. She told me that the activity director was only this way because I was there visiting. She asked me to not stay long because 'they' get mad when I visit. I felt defeated in my efforts and overwhelmed at the thought and preparation for conservatorship.

I am picking up the ball again now.
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It looks like your cousin is trying to undermine your authority.

Have you discussed any of this with your aunt?

If your aunt wishes for you to continue being her POA, then she should trust you to be in control of her finances and not allow your cousin to interfere in financial matters.

Why is your aunt’s facility asking your cousin about financial matters when you are the POA?

Your cousin is overstepping her grounds.

Your aunt is the only one that can straighten this out.

If you don’t want your cousin’s interference, and your aunt won’t remove your cousin from access to financial matters then you have every right to surrender your position if that’s what you want to do.

Best of luck to you.
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Pasa18 Nov 23, 2020
My aunt does not have the capacity at this point. I want to resign at this point, however I have felt instinctively something wrong since the beginning with the facility director.
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You know the source of the question. Did you call the facility?
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Pasa18 Nov 23, 2020
Not yet. I reviewed the bank account and there is a transfer in the same amount. Why would anyone other than poa be able to do this? The facility recognizes my cousin as "personal representative" which is not the same as poa. Either the facility or my cousin made a transfer with the same intent I'll assume of meeting the recertification eligibility. So now I have to find if the account is the same as the one used for cousin's account (i have notes somewhere).
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The cousin has Medical power of attorney.
You have Financial power of attorney.

Yes?

It is your responsibility to know every detail of every cent coming into or going out of your aunt's accounts. For your cousin(?) to suggest that you do not need to know the details of a withdrawal is nonsensical. It is precisely your responsibility to know that.

Let us assume that the withdrawal was made quite properly and for quite legitimate purposes. You still need to know what they were.

By contrast, you are not strictly speaking accountable to your MPOA relative for how you manage your aunt's finances (though you certainly may be accountable to APS, and therefore it would be helpful to everyone for their involvement to be declared, if they have been involved). However, given that he is responsible for her welfare - including peace of mind, just for example - I think you acted quite properly in explaining a point he questioned.

The irony is that *nobody* is doing anything wrong, here! The problem seems to be a sort of miasma of anxiety and suspicion about what the other might be "up to." Is there any way you and he could just clear the air, including with the facility's director and APS if those parties have got involved?

PS Everyone is always more guarded and suspicious about money. So you are absolutely right to be transparent, a); and b) do your best not to take any open or covert watching or probing personally.
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Pasa18 Nov 22, 2020
I agree CM. These unanswered amounts and accounting are my responsibility, not my cousin's or the facility.

This morning I sent a message to cousin that I found his questioning strange since there was no greeting or discussion of my aunt. 'Clearing the air' has been a tough one.
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Are you the only person who has your aunt's Power of Attorney (POA)? Or is it also your cousin? If you have a copy of this document, I would encourage you to look it over. If you're the only one appointed for the actual POA (a health agent who makes medical decisions is something different), then you are the only person who can legally withdraw money from any account, transfer or sell assets, write checks, and pay her bills. If you are her only POA and have her authority to make her financial decisions, then I would strongly advise you to close all of her existing bank accounts and transfer her funds into new accounts that your cousin does not have access to. Also, that phone call is very likely a scam someone trying to pull of a scam. One of the rules of the $1,200 stimulus package is that is tax-free and will not interfere with any kinds of public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid, or rent subsidy.
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If you have POA you should be the ONLY one with authority to access the account.

I assume you do not want to confront the person that did this. If yuor willing to confront him it is real simple.. He needs to return it.

Go to the bank. Don't call them. Explain the situation. At a minumum change all access to the account IE passwords, signatures. If it were me I would strongly consider opening a new account.

Frankly this is a preventable problem
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worriedinCali Nov 21, 2020
Her cousins name is on the account so she can’t use her POA to take his name off. She will need his consent first. Her aunt went in to the bank and added his name. What she can do is open a new account & have aunts money deposited there :)
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Pasa, thanks for answering my question about the names on the account. So your cousins name is on the account and may have been done in a shady way. So next question, why is the nursing home looking at her bank statements? What business is it of theirs? Is she on medicaid & the nursing home takes care of her Medicaid app every year? Something is off about this situation.

If you want to know why your cousin withdrew money, I’ve got 2 angles I would try. So he won’t get defensive or brush you off. First one is if she is on Medicaid—you could say it’s time to submit her financials for her annual renewal and they need to know how that money was spent. If she’s not on Medicaid, do you file her taxes? If yes I would ask him if it was for a prescription or a copay under the pretense you need to know so you can write it off when you file her taxes.
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Pasa18 Nov 22, 2020
Yes, so no one gets defensive I have gone out of my way to be civil and ask exactly what you suggested. He does not answer to me he feels. If the nursing home had a question, they could have directed it to me directly rather than communicate through my cousin. I have to follow up on monday and call the nursing home to find out if they in fact are questioning anything.

The nursing home has been shady and I believe my cousin and/or the social worker at the nursing home is acting as the personal representative of my aunt rather than honor the power of attorney. The nursing home and my cousin have excluded me from information once I produced the power of attorney. I live at a distance so I review accounts online and comply with medicaid. I planned on filing a conservatorship because it's difficult to reconcile medical procedures with billing. However I have my mother who was on hospice earlier and now on palliative care and my plate is full.
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Found the article concerning how the stimulus can be spent.


EXAMPLE:
An unmarried resident receives $1,050 monthly Social Security benefit and has $1,800 in savings. Each 
month she pays the nursing facility $1,000 from her income, and keeps $50 for personal needs.
After receiving the $1,200 stimulus payment in May 2020, her payment obligation to the nursing facility 
does not change. She continues to pay $1,000 monthly. 
After receiving the stimulus payment, her savings will increase from $1,800 to $3,000. To retain 
Medicaid eligibility, she must spend down her savings to under $2,000 within a year—before May 2021. 

Are There Restrictions on How I Can Spend the Stimulus Money?

In general, a resident can spend the stimulus money as they wish, including gifts and charitable 
contributions. This is the resident’s money to spend on their wants and needs.
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Pasa18 Nov 21, 2020
thank you
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Is her son/your cousins name on the bank account?
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Pasa18 Nov 21, 2020
They took my aunt out of the nursing home to the bank and added their name. This after they learned I was poa.
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You need to tell the facility that they are to talk to no one but you about your Aunts finances and your Auntbif u have Medical POA too. As POA you are the only one who should be withdrawing from her bank accounts. The only one, other than she, on the accounts. You can be held responsible for any withdrawls made.

The stimulus check does not count when it comes to the account cap. You have a year to spend it, that will be next May, I think. It can be gifted or given to a charity.

You need to give the facility a copy of your POA. Your relative deducting money should not be allowed and you have a right to take him off the acct. You may want to see if you can open a new account with just you and Aunt on it. Make sure Medicaid knows of the change. I would redeposit the money taken out. No money should be deducted unless its for your Aunt personally. Her Personal Needs acct is counted in the amount allowed. So make sure it is spent. Again, u should be the only one, other than your Aunt, to be able to deduct from a PNA.
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Just FYI, stimulus monies were/are not considered income for Medicaid purposes. It is money the Medicaid recipient can freely spend (or save) without worrying that it puts them over their $2K asset limit (or $3K for a couple.)
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JoAnn29 Nov 21, 2020
It does have to be spent in a year or it will be counted.
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Your aunt appointed you to oversee her finances so why does another person have access to her money and the ability to make withdrawals? When I took care of my dad’s finances acting as his POA, no one else could access his accounts or money. It was him or me. I’d have a big issue with someone else in it. Can you make changes to not allow cousin access?
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Pasa18 Nov 21, 2020
I'd have to start a new account and submit an application to be representative for social security so her check deposits into a new account.
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I am so confused. "he said his withdrawal was not the amount in question and not relevant?" What in the world does that mean. YOU are the financial POA, right? How is it that he is withdrawing ANYTHING. You owe him no explanation. You are FPOA and you are keeping thorough records in case he would like to bring you into court. Next time he has a question give him the verbal middle finger and tell him if he has cause for concern he can bring a court action. Meanwhile keep your careful records and do your jobs, and IGNORE phone calls, period. No texting. I honestly do not know HOW anyone withdraws money from an account of your Aunt's for whom you are POA. Something major is missing in all that. That sounds like fraud to me unless "this relative " (I am a bit disconcerted that you refuse to tell us his relationship to your Aunt and to yourself. Is he a son? A spouse? What?) has his name on some of your Aunt's accounts.
As we always say on Forum, off to the Lawyer you go, if there is some suspicion of fraud being perpetrated on an Aunt you have FPOA for.
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Pasa18 Nov 21, 2020
AD, sorry I seem cryptic. I just don't want the association with this relative. He is my cousin. The darkness of human nature has somewhat put me into a state of being numb. His call this morning was a wake up call.

My aunt has no living children and her husband passed. She has only nieces and nephews. In 2010 she moved to CA to be with family and appointed me as secondary POA and another nephew as primary (however he resigned). It was confusing to me as well: I believed that she assigned the cousin in question as the new poa when she chose to live with his family. His wife took care of my aunt's banking. I did not involve myself with her financial decisions for a decade. There was no record of the FPOA when she was hospitalized until I produced what I thought was an old one. The primary poa nephew said he did not want the responsibility and signed a withdrawal letter. I gave that poa and resignation to the facility, bank, etc. I reviewed my aunt's financials and put everything on automatic and review. Other than the pandemic stimulus and small amounts there is nothing apparently wrong. Any amount could be explained as an arrangement they previously had. My relative and his wife have taken over my aunt's by adding their name to her account after I produced the poa and the facility refuses to acknowledge the poa. I did call APS about the joint account but nothing came of it although I reported that she was in a nursing facility which requires an ombudsman usually. Yes, as poa it is my ballpark still.
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