My dad has Alzheimer's and my mom wants to divorce him. Can she do this if she has POA over him?

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When my husband developed dementia I removed him from our joint checking account, and opened one in his name only, that I kept a small balance in. He liked to write checks for his haircuts and golf, but I felt it too risky for him to have access to our checking funds. BUT I was not able to do this as his POA. He had to be present for these transactions and sign off on them. So I am really confused about how she got his name off their joint assets without his participation. Do you know?

Caring for a spouse with dementia is very, very challenging. Doing it when you no longer love the spouse I should think would be totally overwhelming. So it sounds to me that someone else should be caring for your dad. Perhaps this could happen in assisted living or memory care.

Would your father be willing at this point to appoint you as his POA? That would make it easier for you to talk to various agencies and businesses.

Be your Dad's advocate and take him to consult an attorney specializing in Elder Law (or consult one on his behalf if he is not able to comprehend such a conversation.) The specialty is important. Normally one would hire a family law attorney to discuss a divorce, but in this situation it is critical that the lawyer knows all the ins and outs of Medicaid qualifications, and how divorce impacts this. To the extent possible, try to have all the data about their formerly joint assets when you see the lawyer.

This is so sad. I hope it can be resolved in such a way that Dad gets the good care he needs. It does not sound like he is apt to get that from his wife.
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Oh dear God, this is agonising for both of them. And for you. Big hugs to you.

You need independent reinforcements.

Do you know of:
good friends of hers that she trusts?
a GP or mental health professional she might listen to?
another family member she respects?

It sounds as if the social worker didn't get very far, and that is a great pity, because you absolutely did the right thing requesting an assessment. I'm sorry it wasn't more productive.

Her behaviour must seem appalling to you. It *is* appalling. It's just that it is terribly important to understand where it's coming from.

What are the facilities like near you?
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I think that if your mother were to actually consult an attorney regarding a divorce, she would have a rude awakening regarding what it would take to accomplish it and exactly what/how much she would be awarded in a division of property. Frankly, I would think a divorce would be the last thing she'd want if she is trying to protect her own interests. Does she think a judge would allow her to waltz into court - her having an attorney but your father having no legal counsel- and that a judge will award her all the shared assets from a 51 year marriage? If it weren't so tragic it would almost be funny. Has your mother always believed the sun rises and sets just for her?

I hope your able to get your foot in the door and get your father to either an elder care attorney or one that specializes in divorce - not to start divorce proceedings of his own necessarily, but to be informed as to what his rights are - I'd like to see the table turned on your mother to see how being threatened in this manner feels. I get it that she may be reacting from fear but still- consider the fear your father is dealing with.
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I don't think being his POA gives her the authority to remove his name from joint accounts.

If she becomes his guardian, which I doubt, he will not be out of her life for she will be responsible for his life.

I think that you need to see a lawyer and contact Adult Protective Services in your dad's behalf.

Sounds like she wants to totally abandoned him and take all of the money with her which will leave him destitute. That's selfish and mean!
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Yes she can still divorce him in most states but it would take time if your dad does not want a divorce. If mom thinks divorce will protect assets from medical expenses she is in for a shock.

What mom should do is see an elder law attorney about Medicaid and spousal impoverishment rules. Either way she is going to have to share assets with dad.
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Neva...

You write, as many people do, as though Evil Mother seized Power over poor dad and is now tormenting him prior to rejecting him.

Gosh I bore myself about this...

Power of Attorney is something you hold *for* someone, at their behest. Not *over* someone.

Your father *gave* your mother Power of Attorney, so that she could act *for* him should he become unable to act for himself. As he now has, sadly.

You don't say how long your parents have been married. But it is clear that the Alzheimers diagnosis came as a blow to everyone, and you are all still struggling to come to terms with it.

It also sounds as though your mother is seriously panicking. It isn't that I blame her for that - she goes through a long and turbulent marriage, and at the end of it this is what she's got to look forward to? - but it really doesn't help. And she *really* can't be allowed to take her anger and fear out on your vulnerable father. Who has his own emotions to handle, too, let's not forget.

The best thing you can do for your father, for both of them, is get together as much information you can about support and perhaps counselling for them now, and the options for his care in the future. It is highly likely that at some point your father would need to move to a specialist facility - there are inspiring exceptions, but very few spouses manage to see this horrible disease through to the end at home. There is no shame in accepting alternatives.

Can't see how divorcing him would help. She may be talking about guardianship because he's talking about revoking the POA - is that what this is about, do you know?

Anyway. The key thing is to get her to calm down and breathe deeply. Don't underestimate what they are both going through, but there will be help and there will be answers. Best of luck to you, please let us know how it goes - and please don't blame your mother for being scared and angry.
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She could hypothetically get guardianship without his consent, yes. I mean, that's kind of the point of it, that the ward in the case isn't able to consent. But I really don't think she'll want to - it would mean her every move being subject to court scrutiny. If she resents a social worker expressing a kindly concern, how's she going to cope with having to make regular reports? And besides, in view of her age and her now recorded attitude, there's no guarantee the court would appoint her. No lawyer would recommend this course of action, surely.

Divorce... No idea, it would depend on the state's laws and all kinds of other factors. But the argument to put to her is, really, what's the point? Why throw away everything she's fought for, for so long? Wouldn't it be the most tragic waste?

The doctors and social workers are being a bit feeble, frankly. They shouldn't find it impossible to insist, tactfully, on speaking to their patient/client on his own. In fact, when my mother had her four-part diagnostic assessment at the memory clinic, her being interviewed alone was part of it - obviously they need to see how well the person functions without the support of the primary caregiver. See if you can't suggest that approach to one of them, perhaps? Then you could offer to take him to the appointment so that he's not afraid of her listening through the door, with her ear pressed to the bottom of a drinking glass...

Every time your mother feels that she is being blamed or reproached, she is going to become more angry and more resistant to outside help and more resentful of your father. Moreover, *she* will feel (I'm not saying I agree!) that she is being blamed and misunderstood when she is the victim here. She is the one who is doing her best for a husband who should be making up for past failings and instead has let her down, and left her facing a future alone, and meanwhile has contracted a shameful malady that will turn him into a useless vegetable. She is furious, and her fury is self-feeding.

I am sympathetic to her, yes, I'm genuinely sorry for what must have happened to her hopes. But of course the vulnerable person is your father. It's just that to get help to him, you have to get past her; and to get past her, you have to help her too.
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Your mother may have been trying to do the right thing to protect herself from becoming impoverished when her husband needs very expensive long term care. But I doubt very much that she had the guidance of an Elder Law attorney. Medicaid counts her money and his money as money available for his care -- it doesn't really matter whose name it is in. Divorce may affect that, but Medicaid looks at all transactions for the last five years. Medicaid also allows the community spouse to preserve some of the assets to avoid impoverishment. It is too bad she didn't have good counsel at the time she was making these decisions.

I feel sorry for your mom. She has been placed in a very frightening and stressful situation. Of course it is not your dad's fault that he has dementia and she shouldn't be taking it out on him, but I do understand the stress she is under.

Divorced, legally separated, still married -- it doesn't seem to me that your mom is a suitable caregiver for your dad. Could she be if she had sufficient counseling/therapy? Perhaps. I don't hold out a lot of hope, though.

It seems to me that this is a good time to move Dad into the facility that has been picked out for him. The social worker should be able to give you advice on how to bring this about. Would your dad be willing to go there, to get out from under his wife's verbal abuse? If he is willing to go, she can't use the POA to stop it from happening.

Placing him will bring all kinds of financial data to light. Again, I think you really must see an Elder Law attorney for guidance with this.

Ideally you, your mother, and your father work together to resolve this complicated situation. If that isn't possible, then you advocate for your father.
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By the way. Your father must be very fearful, I understand that. But remember that he has a lot to fear that has nothing to do with your mother, though she's certainly not helping; he might be afraid still, even if she was an angel of mercy. Reassure him that everyone wants to help him and that he mustn't be afraid to accept help.
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It sounds as though your mother thought that by taking Dad's name off everything it would be *hers* to spend as she wished especially if she divorced him. Well she is in for or has had a very rude awakening. Medicaid or a divorce will take care of that.
One way or another dad has to be removed from that situation but I don't know how if all parties give in to Mom's abuse. Do you think Mom would agree to Dad entering some kind of facility? He is obviously still highly functional so would do well in some kind of Assisted Living. Are you able to visit when mom is out?
This is clearly elder abuse but Dad is too afraid to stand up to Mom.
Do you think Mom would agree to going away for a few days alone for *respite*? If you plan carefully you could get everything accomplished including moving Dad in a few days assuming he is willing. Trouble is he is used to asking "how high" when Mom tells him to jump. Old habits are hard to break after 50+ years. i can only send thug and wish you the best of luck. A break could come if Dad needs to go to the hospital for any reason.
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