Between a rock and a hard place: my son is financially exploiting my mother. Guidance?

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Hi all,

My elderly mother is living with me and has a fixed income. She has Medicaid and Medicare. A few months ago, I found out that she has been writing checks to two grandchildren, one of which is my son. About three weeks ago, she wrote him a check for $750. This is in addition to about $400 she spent to pay for his "travel expenses" in June. That total is almost half of her June and July income!

When I found out in May that she had been writing checks for $100+ to the grandkids each month, I contacted them to let them know that's not OK. She is on Social Security and has documented mental problems with delusions, in addition to possible undiagnosed dementia. I told them to let me know if they needed anything, and I would take care of it.

The niece slowed down, but my son responded by cutting off contact with me. As you can tell by what I wrote, he did NOT stop soliciting or accepting money from her. Recently there was an incident where she asked if I had "stopped payment" on her debit card. She had just sent him money a few days earlier, and afterward he wasn't answering her repeated calls.

I called Florida's Elder Abuse hotline. They say it's definitely reportable and that an investigator would be sent out upon receipt of the report. My question is: would I be going too far to do that without trying other alternatives? I think jail time is a possible penalty for financial exploitation, but I don't know what else might work. I've told my mother that he is a grown man and she's crippling him by not letting him stand on his own two feet. She doesn't listen because he's her "only grandson".

My main concerns are:
1. Making sure that Medicaid/Medicare benefits aren't affected by these financial gifts. Would they be seen as a indication that my mother has disposable income and isn't needy enough to qualify?

2. Protecting her from further financial exploitation attempts.

3. Getting my mother to set aside burial funds. Currently, she has a small life insurance policy with her grandchildren as beneficiaries. In the event of her death, I would like her to have the maximum amount allowable ($2500?) in an account. I anticipate absorbing additional costs, but I can't afford to pay for all her funeral expenses without going into debt. Maybe having her set aside those funds would help with #2.

4. Creating a budget for her so that her monthly income is allocated. Right now, there's an agreement for her to pay a fixed amount for rent, electricity, food, and personal care items. I don't like taking money from her, so it winds up sitting in her account. I think that's a mistake on my part. She may be thinking that if the money's sitting in the account, she might as well give it to my son..

5. Setting up long-term financial arrangements like a conservatorship. I've put this on the back burner because I can't convince her to go the doctor for an exam, and I can't force her. She doesn't like to leave the house, so it would be difficult to get her to an elder care lawyer.

Thanks in advance for your help. This site has been such a great source of assistance and comfort for me.

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Thanks, macada. I agree that my son is taking advantage. Logically, I know that what I'm doing is reprehensible. Emotionally, I can't resolve the fact that he's actually doing such a thing. I will look into power of attorney information over the next few days; I set myself a deadline for this Friday to decide on a course of action.
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There is one action you could and should take that would end this once and for all .. you need to become her Power of Attorney and take over her finances. The fact that she is writing those cheques when she cannot afford it shows that she is not responsible to look after her own finances. Secondly, you need to stop worrying about how your son is going to feel about you. He is taking advantage of your elderly mother and that is not something to be proud of .. I'm sorry. If you become her POA as soon as possible than you can take away her credit cards, chequebook etc. and you can be selective as to how her money is spent. Good Luck !!
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