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I, the live-in primary caregiver, have suspected that my mother has had dementia for a while now. She has not allowed me to take her to doctor appointments or take control of her medications. Basically, she will not let me take care of her. My brother, who has power of attorney, has not done anything about it because he's been taking advantage of the situation. In addition to turning my mother against me, he has done some shaddy financial transactions. I was told that if it's determined he did them while she was incompetent, they can be reversed. Is this true?

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The only problem about disposing of someone else's property is whether or not certain items are protected by a legal will that they would have made when they were well able to make those decisions. Legal wills are made for a reason, and you can't overturn someone else's well as long as that will was made when they were well. Before disposing of someone else's property, definitely check to see if they made a will protecting any items. Disposing of protected items is wrong and illegal. Be very careful in this type of case so you don't get yourself in legal trouble. As for the hoarding situation, just because someone is a hoarder doesn't necessarily mean they have developing dementia or Alzheimer's. People hoard for different reasons. Cleaning out one's own home is advantageous to freeing up valuable space for more important things. As for the question about going after the brother for money he took that he wasn't entitled to, can you get it back? Yes and no. Yes if he happens to have assets and works. No if they're only on SSI and judgment proof with no assets with the only exception of owning and living in their own home and owning only one car for doctors appointments. In a case of SSI only income, you can't touch SSI or go after the recipient's home or car. As for your mom, she might be in a situation where she must pay for that very least a portion of her medical care including medicine. No medical care means the brother has more money to take from mom. What I would do is call the APS so that they can investigate but don't expect them to jump right away because sometimes it takes multiple people bringing information to the report before they will act. Get as many people to speak up as possible and share everything they know with the APS. I faced this with my foster dad's situation. One day I started noticing he was rapidly declining to the point of needing more help than I was able to give him. It was hard trying to find the right people because I didn't know all the right resources or even the ropes. It took quite a while as he declined before I finally found the right help. It was discouraging to discover why the APS wasn't stepping in to help and I knew if the right people didn't come together and step in that things would continue declining to the point of me walking into one day find him dead since there was really nothing within my power I could do. He was renting from a slumlord and living in a slum that was gradually falling down around him. The slumlord was doing little or nothing to remedy the problem, and I'm so glad that I didn't take the offer to move into an apartment he claimed to be fixing up. I almost took the offer until I got a feeling that if anything went wrong, what if he didn't fix it? That feeling was just enough to get me to rethink my consideration. I'm glad I stayed where I am so I wasn't next to fall prey to a slumlord. It's bad enough slumlords take advantage of their tenants, but it's far worse when some of those tenants are elderly and on fixed income. What's even worse is when some elders have no family to come in and help them. I just can't see any elder having no family to help them in the midst of a crisis, but it happens. What I would do in your case is definitely go for guardianship and take over your moms bank accounts and other assets. That way you can stop the brother from taking any more money especially if you suspect some shady financial transactions have been occurring. If you have that funny feeling that gives you suspicion, you're probably right but you're only find out through investigation that your suspicions were right. Don't go against that feeling if you have suspicion because it will only be confirmed at some point. I think what you're going to want to do is find out where all of your mom's money has been going and see if her bills have been paid by the POA. You want to try to account for every dime that pain from her account, especially if this involves very large amounts of money regularly coming out of her account. If it was going toward her bills, that's good. However, if not then this is a big red flag someone is stealing from her. This is why it's never a good idea to give anyone access to your bank account, especially when your most vulnerable and in your golden years. This is also why it's good to make plans when you're able to make those decisions and have a plan set in place and really know who can be trusted and who can't. Sometimes giving access of your money to the wrong person can have devastating consequences because having access to money is very tempting for many people. This is exactly why it's never a good idea to give anyone access to your bank account, not even a POA. What I would do is take your mom into the bank and have her money moved to a new account along with her direct deposits. If you gain guardianship of your mom, hang on to her debit card and don't give this brother any access to any of her money or other assets.
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Your main problem in this situation is that your mom has not been deemed legally incompetent. For a person to be legally incompetent, two doctors need to attest to her incompetence in front of a judge. Only then is one legally incompetent. Since she won't see a doctor, she is not legally incompetent. Now, is she actually incompetent? Maybe...but the lack of medical care means that no one has made that call yet.

It really does not matter how long she has had dementia...because legal incompetence was never set. Even if you got a doctor to say that she has had dementia for 2 years for example, you cannot go back in time 2 years to get the incompetence ruling. She would only be legally incompetent from the point that a judge says so.

Another issue that you have is that your mother, who is still legally competent, can spend her money in any way she pleases, including allowing your brother to make shady transactions...in effect gifting him the money to do as he pleases. He doesn't need POA to take a gift from her, and as long as she is legally competent she can do as she pleases with her money, even flushing it down the toilet if she wants.

Finally, if she is deemed incompetent and your brother holds financial POA, then the court will honor her wishes to allow him to make financial decisions. She is not able to make you POA if she wouldn't be able to stand in front of a judge/lawyer to change the paperwork.

The only thing that could be questionable here is if he is using his financial POA before she is deemed incompetent...this would be a crime, especially if he uses the funds for his own benefit.

One final note, if the POA your brother has is actually DPOA (durable) then it is already in effect and he can already manage her finances to her benefit.

Again, if he uses any of the funds for his benefit, AND she has not gifted/allowed him to do it, that would be the only way you could do anything...and even then a court case would be long and legal fees high.

Angel
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I wouldn't lean too hard on a doctor's "opinion" for this--they see a patient for what? 30 minutes and the family wants a dx of dementia and they see a sweet little old lady who seems kind of charming and "with it"--family sees the slow slip slide of age.....it's kind of up to us to determine how "bad" (and I'm careful to use that term) mom or dad is.

Look back and remember how they were 6 mos, a year ago. Compare to now. Ask people who haven't seen them in a long time. You'll get a better idea of what you already suspect.

My own mother had a major "slipping down" episode last year. I was really pushing for a move to an ALF. The other sibs said she was FINE (but never saw her. Finally, at Christmas when they DID see her, they were appalled. She's stable now, so we put off anything major (and moving her, if that ever happens, would be MAJOR)...but it did help the 3 sibs who never see her to see her in a new light. She's progressively slower, more forgetful, and at 86, that isn't going to suddenly get better.

Your eyes are better at a lot of things that the dr's. (Having said that, my SIL is currently finishing his residency and is in the VA for a few months. He sees the worst of the worst there, but still says he can't dx a dementia pt without spending a LOT of time with them--which in private practice is pretty much impossible.)
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This is a good topic. Because, the person taking advantage probably will not be the person who will eventually take on the care. It will effect the services the individual can get.
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I don't know about the law here but I can sympathize with the wish to to know.

Several, I mean really SEVERAL years before my mother became truly diagnose-able (as in insisting that I drive her car and then calling the police to report it stolen--by me), she began making nasty allegations against people, and did some crazy things. She left the church she had been in for 20 years and joined a new church. Then, oh, I cringe to think about it, she proceeded to make waves in the new church. So unfair...

Now that she has been in AL for two years, I look back and ask myself when did it all begin? I have to say that the anxiety came very naturally to her--she was a very anxious person. But the extreme anxiety began many years before the irrational behavior. Was that part of the dementia? I believe it was. My poor father had to live through that in his last years of life. I remember his exasperation.

But today he is in peace and my mom is in AL playing bridge.

Is there a lesson in all of this?? For me the lesson is to be on guard with elders rather too early than too late. I try to understand that what I am witnessing (like my neighbor's hoarding and clutching of items ,etc.) might not just be "crazy her" but the beginning of something that will blossom later.

Does that help? I think it does. I had a gentle conversation wit her about her house--she had imagined she would give it away to s.o. who wanted all the stuff in it [yeah]--and I suggested that she might have to sell the house to pay for long term care, in which case the stuff might be thrown away or whatever by a stranger. So, now, she is cleaning it all out little by little. Better, right?.
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I think Madtoe means a layer that specializes in Elder Law, not one who is old. :)

Having dementia and being incompetent in the legal sense are not the same thing. You are in a better position than a doctor is to be aware of when the dementia symptoms started. But whether she is incompetent, even now, is a different question.

Consulting an Elder Law Attorney is probably your best option at this point.
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Try to find an elderly lawyer and they will help you.
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Dementia progresses over many years. If mom is at the point she needs a live in, she is moderate stage. At this point your best bet is to petition for Guardian status. Talk it over with an attorney, especially the details of how brother is taking advantage.
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