I’d like to be my mother’s representative in financial matters because I believe I have her best interests in all areas. She has lived with me for a bit over a year. I make all her doctors’ appts and am the one that discusses her medical issues and needs with her doctors, even though I have two siblings

You mention that your mother has had a stroke, is 87, and has dementia. She requires complete care with ADLs. At this point your mother is unable to give you POA if she is incapable of attending an attorney and convincing him that she knows fully and understands what she is doing.

POA can only be conferred upon you by the principal (your mom) who is legally fully competent in making her own decisions.

Now, check your Mom's and Dad's wills. There may be a springing POA in there. There often is with any good attorney making a will. This POA will say that if either Dad or Mom fall ill with incompetency in managing their own care the POA will be able to take over all decisions upon taking care of certain stipulations, which usually include the diagnosis of two doctors that mom is now incapable of managing her own finances.

You will need to take letters attesting to these facts to an attorney and he will create letters testamentary that you are POA. You should also understand your burdens of record keeping thereafter accounting for every penny into and out of assets.

If there is no such springing POA then it is to get guardianship. This is attorney work as the same letters must be put to a judge to create you guardian or conservator for your mom.

Good luck.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to AlvaDeer

I'm a notary and in the states of PA and NJ, the only thing my stamp attests to is the fact that I verified the signer's signature with some form of government issued ID. My signature does not attest to the competency of the individual signing the documents.
Yes, you can get legal docs of the internet and if you are sure there will be no controversy from siblings about the legitimacy of Mom requests and bequests after her passing (but you would be surprised how sweet and loving siblings can become raging loons when it is time to get their "share") then this might suffice for you. I have spent years in the senior health care industry, I was the only child and all of Mom's siblings had already passed. I had her Will, PoA and PoA completed by an attorney. I would suggest if you go this route, to do a bit of price shopping. It was over 10 years ago and I got price ranges from $500 to $1600!! I went with the lower price and believe it or not.... that price was from a certified eldercare attorney.

Some banks will require their own PoA format; it is strictly up to them. Social Security and Medicare generally will not discuss a person's account with anyone else unless the recipient gets on the phone and gives verbal permission each time (how they know I'm not faking an old lady voice, I don't know); I found it easier to have Mom sign the forms making me her payee representative. Never had an issue with them after that.

Good luck on this journey. It's not easy but you have a lot of company.
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Reply to geddyupgo
KNance72 Jun 6, 2024
Great advice
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You will need to take your Mom to an attorney. When I did this with my Aunt, the attorney interviewed her privately in order to determine her capacity and to make sure she wasn't being coerced. Make the appointment in the morning, like 10am, to avoid her sundowning.

The bar for capacity is pretty low, so no matter what you think about her abilities, you should still take her. Let the attorney assess. If she doesn't meet the standard, then use that appointment to discuss other options, like guardianship.

You are at the beginning of this journey with your Mom. You can ask for help from your siblings but they are not obligated to help and you must accept this. Please read the posts on this forum about caregiver burnout, so that you can think carefully about living with your Mom as her condition gets progressively worse.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Geaton777

Mom has to sign legal documents appointing you Power of Attorney.
If mom is not competent to do this, and an attorney can determine that when they have a conversation, then you may have to become her Guardian. this is a legal proceeding and it does involve a lot of paperwork and it can get expensive.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Grandma1954

I too had troubles getting a POA for a diminished parent. My mom had to move in with me because she could no longer care for herself but she had no issues convincing anyone to the contrary. She couldnt see very well and was showing light dementia symptoms. But she was very adamant to people that she did not want anyone in charge of her financials, etc (imagine this conversation at the bank on one of our withdrawal visits). She was being difficult for sure. I had a frank discussion with my lawyer who also was aware of these obstacles since he had also dealt with it with his own mother. He suggested I bring her in on a good day as well. He explained everything to her and encouraged her questions of which surprisingly she did not have many. He presented the papers and she signed them. My lawyer was very cognizant of the difficulties I would face without having the POA in place. All of it made me very aware to have many things in place early for my own children. Wishing you the best in such a difficult situation.
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Reply to Stayingyoung

Yes, you can get POA for your mother by taking her to a lawyer and having POA documents drawn up. Depending on how far gone she is with her dementia though. You may have to get appointed by the probate court. If such is the case, go for conservatorship instead. It's higher than POA and cannot be questioned. If you get appointed by the court, you will have to submit records to them usually every six months to ensure that her funds are being appropriately administered and she is receiving adequate care.

I hope you know that as a POA or conservator and even as her caregiver, that you do not have to do any of this for free. It is your right to get paid (out of her funds) for all of it. You can also charge her rent for living in your house.

Talk to an elder law attorney. They will tell you everything you need to know and what you are entitled to get as well.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver

I am so thankful right now that I'm an only child and my mom thought to put my name on all the accounts after dad died. She said she didn't want me to have to deal with lawyers any more than I had to. We never thought her downfall would be mental, either. She was sure she would drop dead from a stroke or heart attack.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Bunnymomjulie
mgmbaker Jun 9, 2024
I'm in the same situation. Only child (except distant step-siblings who are out of the picture). My dad passed away years ago and my stepdad passed away as my mother was starting to show signs of dementia. Whether it was at his prompting or if she came up with the idea alone (I tend to think it was the former), she changed her will after he died to make me the executor and to name me as her DPOA and her MPOA. She put me as co-owner on all her bank accounts as well and she had her advance directive updated.

In the four years since this, I have been repeatedly thankful to have all those documents in place. She is now completely incapable of conducting business, but I have a very clear understanding of what she would do if she could do it herself.

Having her legal documents in place was such a kindness to me that we just had our own completed for our kids so even if they wind up caring for us when we are unable, they won't be asked to make any difficult decisions in times of distress.
You can also get it done with an online legal forms provider and a person who is a notary. Mama Bear Legal forms or Legal Zoom are places we have used. I have a friend who is a notary and works for lawyers and she did ours for us. She had her lawyers look into it and it is completely legal and binding.
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Reply to DILKimba
AlvaDeer Jun 6, 2024
This is in our country a GRAVE MISTAKE in my humble opinion. ONLINE forms will NOT be accepted by a bank. And doing POA without solid paperwork is an awful mistake because it is often too late when you find out that your papers are not accepted almost anywhere. A notary does NOTHING. They simply attest to a signature. Not to the mental capacity for a person to do a form, and that is why Banks laugh at them.
If an attorney looked over a form and attested to its validity I surely do hope that that attorney also examined the person and did a letter testamentary that the POA is valid, because a lawyer can say whatever they want; we have seen over and over and over again banks laugh at these papers. And that is right on this Forum.
Yes, it will cost money.
But it will save money as well and it will be legal, and no bank can legally reject it.
I write this frequently, although I know that it often doesn’t go down too well. If your mother’s mind is not totally lucid, and you are sure that it would be in everyone’s interest, it may make a lot of sense to go ahead with a POA even if her legal competence could theoretically be in question. The big issue is whether it’s against someone else’s interest (even Medicaid’s), and they are likely to complain and question the legality. Check out this question, very gently, and only go ahead if you are firm ground.

I am frequently surprised when lawyers go ahead with wills and other documents (and have them witnessed in their own office) even when the testator possibly isn’t legally competent. Lawyers don’t have in front of them a dementia diagnosis one way or the other, and they certainly can’t make one themselves. They just see whether the testator seems to know what they are signing, that it’s what they want, and that it seems reasonable. Lawyers were writing wills long before doctors were making dementia analyses. Dementia (at least in the early stages) doesn't mean that the person is totally away with the fairies and is confused about everything. If the lawyer could see storms ahead, they wouldn’t do it. You could take the same approach.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to MargaretMcKen
MACinCT Jun 7, 2024
I had legal guardianship yet my mom was mostly lucid to make her own decisions. I could take her to a bank with her ID and brought my brother in person in order to get his name ( as back up) on her checking and also with her personal investor to update any investments. Note there was never any animosity between us. This was in case either of us died. Good thing we did. He passed before me.
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I am a lawyer in NC and NY. The state of NC puts the short form power of attorney in the statute for everyone to use without having to hire a lawyer. If your mom can answer the questions that she wants you to be her power of attorney and understands what that means, can read and understand the form and you bring her to a notary, you can get it notarized. The notary will just require her to be able to sign the form and show her ID. I, as an attorney, am not a medical doctor. I will notice if someone is not there or if something is not right - the same as if someone is drunk or under duress but I don't give people exams before they sign documents. Also my mom had memory problems but she was very much in charge of her finances and knew how every penny was spent.
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Reply to ChildofGodStill

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