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I had durable power of attorney over my mother Mrs. Hart since May 18th 2011. My mom passed in January 2014. No one in California respect the forms. I cant even get personal items or knowledge of where my mom's ashes are

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Amen.
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Crickett, first let me say I am sorry for giving the impression that you shouldn't care about where your Mom's remains are. I was trying to point out that you might not like the answer (in your SD's bedroom, or he let the crematorium dispose of them, etc) and that you wouldn't be able to change that. Also that if were important to you, contact a lawyer.

But I really continue to be confused about your concerns. In addition to what you want right now (mementos and information) you seem very upset about what your Mom's husband did while you were POA. Are you looking for advice about what to do about that, or venting, or what?

StepDad wouldn't cooperate with applying for Medicaid. It would definitely impact his financial situation and it seems to me he had a right to act in his own interests, especially if it didn't adversely impact your Mom. For example, if he knew they had more assets than would qualify and that they weren't willing/able to "spend down" -- what would be the point in applying? It is possible he was being cruel in doing this, and it is possible he was making what he considered a reasonable decision for them both. Your POA did not have authority over him.

POAs can have different provisions. Generally as long as the principal is competent he or she retains the right to make decisions. The POA can act on the principal's instructions, but can only take over decision-making when the principal can no longer make the decisions because of incapacitation. A diagnosis of dementia by itself does not preclude someone from making decisions. For example, my husband made me his POA, with 2 of our children as backup, within the first year of having dementia. The lawyer simply questioned him about what it meant and since he was clear about what he was doing (even if he was an airplane the previous night) she went ahead with it. A few years later I removed him from our joint account and set him up with a small one of his own. Unless California is very different from here, nobody but your mother or POA could close out her account. So she must have gone with SD to the bank and said convincingly to the banker that she wanted to do this. Had you registered your POA with her bank? Most banks have their own forms to fill out as well. Did you do that? But even if the bank knew Mom had a POA, and even if they knew she had dementia, that wouldn't necessarily prevent them from accepting her decision. Perhaps your SD did this for purely evil reasons. I sure don't know. If he was abusive I can understand why you think that may be the case. But you say the money was only enough for final expenses, and SD did take care of final expenses. So what was lost? And what would you want to do about it now?

I can understand your anger. (At least I think I can, but I haven't had a wicked stepfather.) But I agree with freqflyer that FOR YOUR OWN SAKE -- not his -- it may be time to remember your mother fondly and let go of this intense anger. If you are having trouble getting past it, perhaps a counselor can help. You loved your mother. Your mother trusted you. You deserve to feel good about those things, and move toward peace.
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Crickett, maybe it is time to start remembering the good times that you and your Mother had.... all this negative stuff isn't getting you anywhere.... and I don't think your Mom would have wanted this to be your current remembrance of her.

Let it go.
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I'm fine and not offended. It's just displaced anger. Easier to express here than with anyone close to the situation. Crickett has now provided additional information. In 2011 mom was diagnosed with dementia, then goes to the attorney for the POA. I think this is the first time this has been mentioned in this thread. The diagnosis then did not necessarily mean she was incompetent, and the attorney thought she understood what she was doing and drew up the POA. So far, so good. Everyone was apparently on the same page. Then a year later mom changes the bank account situation. Why, who knows? Did stepdad have her do it, force her, whatever. Then as things unfortunately get worse for mom and crickett goes to take care of what she had planned to do, she finds out that the facts are now different. Mom is very ill, dying, and daughter is stymied in fulfilling her mother's wishes as expressed years earlier. Yes, frustrating and enough to be mad about. So who to be mad at? Mom who didn't tell you of the change? Stepdad because he didn't tell you? The bank, because they didn't tell you (no reason to if you didn't have the POA on file with them)? The state because there are these POAs you find worthless? Or yourself, because you weren't on top of things enough to know? Us? Forgive everybody. It happened. What we might learn, I think, is to remember that life is fluid, things change. What we thing we have set up doesn't always work out. How many divorced people have inadvertently left a former spouse as beneficiary of a will or life insurance policy? They set it up right at first, but didn't keep up with the changes they probably would have made if they remembered and got around to it. We should all review our legal documents at least annually, and possibly more often as circumstances change. And for those who are agents who hold a POA for someone, do we know enough about our duties, the condition of the person we are to act for, and enough about their daily lives to know when to do something? This may be the lesson we can learn from crickett who has shared her troubles.
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Correction - in the second line, it should be "ungrateful."
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Ok....very confused now.

Crickett, you started this thread asking if you had a case. In fact, that's the title of the thread. You proceeded to give us a litany of what you view as abuses or acts of neglect against your now-deceased mother, and claim you just want sentimental items from your stepfather and to know where your mother's ashes are. Then you launch into an all-out tirade against anyone who dares to question you about it, saying we are unwelcoming, belittling you, and so forth.

Bottom line: If you think you have a case, go to an attorney with whatever proof you have and see if you have one. If you don't like the answers we're giving you because they don't fit into your idea of what's right/wrong, then don't ask. You asked for help and opinions, and we gave them. Plain and simple. For you to attack everyone here because we did what you asked is what's "unwelcome".
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Crickett, your responses to VegasLady are unwarranted and ungreateful. There are multiple posts attempting to help you, yet you respond continually with answers that include extraneous information, and now you're insulting VegasLady, who's been very patient in trying to help you.

Frankly, I think the belittling being done is by you, and I'm not even sure you're a legitimate poster. Trolls take various forms. You might even be one. Usually there's a give and take in threads but I see no give on your part.

And I really do think you owe an apology to VegasLady.

And by the way, some of the information you've added in your posts clearly wasn't written by you but was apparently copied from some source describing various legal issues/documents.

It's illegal to copy any of that material from a copyrighted site without permission of the website owner.
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I get that a lawsuit is fruitless but maybe one can learn from my experience, but I see it isn't welcomed. vegaslady on your recap -Recap here: POA in 2011; bank account change by mom in 2012; diagnoses that may mean she was incompetent in 2013 a few months before her death in 2014. Her diagnose was in 2011 with dementia that is why she went to an attorney. Yes I am glad that this is online for belittling is something I do not need. If it happens to any of you just remember I tried. Goodbye
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Okay crickett, let's try again. You are being too literal. We all get it that you had a POA document. I meant that it was a good idea that you had done that. Phew. Now as to the POA code of honor, aka the responsibilities of a POA, I'm pretty sure everybody gets that too. You are preaching to the choir. You are also still chasing your tail in anger. Just because you had POA and didn't try to use it early enough to assure plans for mom doesn't mean that the system and laws don't work. And because you had a POA doesn't mean that mom still couldn't do what she did. Recap here: POA in 2011; bank account change by mom in 2012; diagnoses that may mean she was incompetent in 2013 a few months before her death in 2014. I'm not trying to make you the bad guy or enable anyone else who might be trying to financially harm someone. Walk away from the anger and fighting over the hurt you feel. You're still grieving mom, I assume. Resolving something over the POA is not what you say you want...it's the momentos and info about her remains. Can you follow up on some of the useful suggestions others have given you? It's hard to see how the POA rants are helping you along towards that goal. BTW, aren't you glad we're doing this on line instead of in person? Otherwise I might have to throw a cold bucket of water on you to bring you out of your feverish anger. Work on what you want to achieve for the future. The past is, well, past.
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Crickett, I've read all these posts, and reread some of them and I still can't determine the basis for which you are asking whether or not you have a case.

Is it to determine where your mother's ashes are located? Is it to redress grievances from the joint accounts? Or is it to correct perceived abuses in power of attorney grants?

You wrote in one post:

"I never said it was an idea it is a legal document. POA forms and uselessness are not my issues, but the problems with the systems set up in every state."

Yet there are repeated comments about POAs being useless. And how could anyone possibly have spent enough time and legal research to be knowledgeable about the problems with system in every state? That's a heck of a lot of research.

Crickett, I think your best bet is to contact an attorney as it appears as though you haven't yet found the answers you're seeking here, despite a lot of compassion and attempts by people to answer your queries.

An attorney will tell you quickly whether or not you have a cause of action.
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Estate Planning Attorney
Your representative has rights to her property and certainly can check her own finances or have her agent do so for her. She is entitled to her personal property. Even though they remain married, that does not give him the right to withhold her property or assets from her.
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You must avoid conflicts that would impair your ability to act loyally for the principal’s best interests.
You must act in good faith, with care, competence, and diligence.
You have an obligation to make decisions based upon the preferences of the principal and the authority granted in the document. You may not override the wishes of the principal. In general, you have authority to do whatever the principal may do except as expressly limited in the power of attorney.
You must keep the principal’s money and property separate from your own property to avoid “co-mingling.” When you are transacting business on behalf of the principal, you must use the principal’s finances as the principal would use them for the principal’s own benefit. If accounts are retitled, you should title them in “[your name] as agent for [the principal],” rather than as a joint owner. This should also make it easier for you to track spending and prepare the required records discussed below.
These records must include all receipts, documents, disbursements and significant actions taken by you as agent. As agent, you are required by law to provide an accounting to the principal and anyone else designated to receive an accounting.
Record-keeping is required unless special instructions in the power of attorney state otherwise. You should try to avoid writing checks to “cash” or to yourself, but if you do, you should be sure to keep careful records of the items and/or services purchased with the principal’s funds. The assets you are managing must be readily identifiable as belonging to the principal and should be kept separate from your property.
You have a responsibility to preserve the principal’s estate plan. This means that you should become familiar with the principal’s estate plan, if possible, and should consider it, especially when handling any joint accounts, life insurance, trusts, retirement accounts, or property specifically given to a named person in the principal’s will.
You should refrain from actions or transactions that would be contrary to the principal’s intent for how his or her assets will pass at death, as long as the estate plan remains consistent with the principal’s best interests. For example, minimization of tax liability or eligibility for a benefit or assistance available under a statute or regulation might warrant such an action or transaction.

Here If accounts are retitled, you should title them in “[your name] as agent for [the principal],” rather than as a joint owner. So I left it like it was for it is one of those silly laws I went by.
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Since when does a POA become an idea? I never said it was an idea it is a legal document. POA forms and uselessness are not my issues, but the problems with the systems set up in every state. Did you read my post the POA was in 2011 before her diagnosis rendered her to a point where it could be questioned.Your statement (Then the following year (2013) you have these diagnoses). I am sorry you see this as me being malicious instead of my moms right. It is opinions like your that enable abusers but that's ok your are entitled to your opinion. Once again if you had any knowledge of a POA you would know as an agent I can not combine her income with mine and since she had a single acct and I was going to used that acct to arrange her final disposition which would have been in the town ,city where she resides as well as her attorney it made good sense.
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Well at least you have gotten the point that the lawsuit idea won't work. The POA in 2011 was a wonderful idea. Apparently you didn't follow the situation closely enough to know that the financial account had changed the next year. Then the following year (2013) you have these diagnoses, and oops it's too late, stepdad took care of the bank account first. I never said anything about you becoming joint on her account. I get it that you had good intentions, you were just late. The anger about the POA forms and uselessness are your issues, not problems with the systems set up in every state. Now that you got the message about suing, take another look at the suggestions you've been given about resolving your anger about the moments and remains. Let it rest for a while, then come back with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to achieve what you say you want. If stepdad didn't cooperate so she could get MediCal, how were her bills paid? Did he pay them? Did you? Did insurance? Did anybody? You are progressing. Just keep your mind on what you want and quit taking these side roads or you'll get lost in the maze of anger.
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assandache7 you are 100% right for I had to apply for medi-cal for my mom and he refused to cooperate so she was denied.
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No disrespect. This comment is pertaining to my own marriage.

If my husband had an account with his own name on it you can be damn sure it would be counted as an asset if I was to divorce him or applied for medicare....

Just saying.....
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Vegas lady her POA was in 2011 before her diagnosis rendered her to a point where it could be questioned. The stats I posted was to show the rise in it. I cant comment on your post for it is clear that you agree with the situation and not the facts. I was there and if you had any knowledge of a POA you would know as an agent I can not combine her income with mine and since she had a single acct and I was going to used that acct to arrange her final disposition which would have been in the town ,city where she resides as well as her attorney it made good sense. If you read my post on her diagnoses it pertained to the fact that medical restraints were used. So the comment of the cart before the horse is ludicrous for she had those prior to that.I get that a lawsuit is fruitless but maybe one can learn from my experience and if you have read my last post it does say final note.
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Fail to see how all the stats really apply to your situation. The trusted person, you, weren't around when the supposed financial abuse, in 2012, took place. Later on, 2013, mom had all the diagnoses that may have made her incompetent THEN. You put the cart before the horse (later diagnoses after the changed bank account). Snap out of it. You have no case to sue. There are plenty of other suggestions here on how to achieve what you say you want. Open your mind to those. Or better yet, do go sue somebody and let us know how that's workin' for ya.
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Final note there are no burden of proof on a POA it is what it is, a legally binding document that one prepares, or have prepared for you to sign, that designates a trusted person to act for you if you become incapacitated. All the rest out side of a POA is gobbly goop that is used as not to honor the document. Please keep this in mind if or when you decide to have a POA.
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The moral of the story;
A durable power of attorney for financial affairs is a legally binding document that you prepare, or have prepared for you to sign, that designates a trusted person to act for you if you become incapacitated.Each American has the constitutional right, established by a Supreme Court decision. I’m not aware of a marriage granting one spouse any kind of control over the other. If the husband and wife own property together, her agent may act only with the same abilities that the wife might herself. Your representative has rights to her property and certainly can check her own finances or have her agent do so for her. She is entitled to her personal property. Even though they remain married, that does not give him the right to withhold her property or assets from her. Now with all this just try and enforce any of this to ones wishes. For example her finances for 24 years it was separate and that did not matter it only became a power struggle when he took her in the bank when she was unable to make these decisions. Was it abuse definitely but try and get it resolved and you will see the POA means nothing. Now ask your self why elder abuse is on the rise?
Available data from state Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies show an increasing trend in the reporting of elder abuse.
Despite the accessibility of APS in all 50 states (whose programs are quite different), as well as mandatory reporting laws for elder abuse in most states, an overwhelming number of cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation go undetected and untreated each year. Approximately 14 million U.S. adults aged 65 and over and 19 million U.S adults aged 18 to 64 have a disability.13 Unfortunately, some of these vulnerable adults are abused by family members, service providers, care assistants and others. This abuse places the victim’s health, safety, emotional well being, and ability to engage in daily life activities at risk. Research indicates that people with dementia are at greater risk of elder abuse than those without.18,19 Approximately 5.1 million American elders over 65 have some kind of dementia. Close to half of all people over 85, the fastest growing segment of our population, have Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia. By 2025, most states are expected to see an increase in Alzheimer prevalence.20 One 2009 study revealed that close to 50% of people with dementia experience some kind of abuse.21 A 2010 study found that 47% of participants with dementia had been mistreated by their caregivers. In the only national study that attempted to define the scope of elder abuse, the vast majority of abusers were family members (approximately 90%), most often adult children, spouses, partners, and others.
Family members who abuse drugs or alcohol, who have a mental/emotional illness, and who feel burdened by their care giving responsibilities abuse at higher rates than those who do not. It appears that female elders are abused at a higher rate than males and that the older one is, the more likely one is to be abused. Now ask yourself why would one want to ignore a POA?
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Crickett you mention your family is not happy with this situation. Maybe one of them can have a civil conversation with your SD?

It must be so upsetting/frustrating to not know where your Mom is buried.. I hope you get the answers you deserve soon....
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Vegaslady - So well over a year after your mother changed the bank account she then has these various diagnoses? NO this is what pertained to my post -
1. Altered level of consciousness.
2. Urinary tract infection.
I was asked why did you call APS on September 17th? They were over medicating her and the Chef for her role in this for she was acting out of her job description by assisting in my mom's care for example lifting etc.
Jeannegibbs To answer your Yes to all and what happens is since he paid for it all info is confidential and as far as the ashes there are many reason family visits graves and or memorial sites. I read your post so if this happened to you it would be fine with you not knowing where your loved one is. My family is not happy with it.
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Have you asked your step dad for a copy of the picture?

Have you asked where the ashes are?

Did you attend the funeral?

Did you pay for the funeral?

I am very confused about what happened.

If all you want is a copy of a photo, and the location of the ashes, paying a lawyer to sue for these things seems financially expensive. I can't think of any legal reason your step Dad would have to give you a picture, but perhaps a lawyer could find a cause. By the way, did you ever ask your mother for a copy while she was alive? Ethically, I can see a lot of reasons why SD should make a copy of the picture for you, or allow you to have the photo copied, or simply to give you the picture if he does not want it. If you have asked him, what reason does he give for not granting this simple request?

I cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to keep the location of cremains a secret. Just out of meanness? Again, I don't know if there is a legal requirement to make that information known, but a lawyer could pursue it for you.

Just out of curiosity, what will you do when you find out where the ashes are? Suppose SD says he scattered them where they had their honeymoon? Or that they are in a decorative urn in a curio cabinet, next to family pictures. Or that they are still in the cardboard box they were returned to him in, and he plans to scatter them on what would have been their next wedding anniversary? I can understand that you want to know, and I can't understand why he won't tell you, but what good is the information going to do you? If it is worth it to you to pay a lawyer to try to find this out, then try to find a lawyer who will do it.

I am so sorry that you apparently have a very poor relationship with your mother's husband. In an ideal world, you and he would be a comfort to each other now.

You asked us whether you have a case to sue. We can't seem to figure out how that would work. But none of us are lawyers (at least not that I know). Consult a lawyer. Explain exactly what you want if you win your case. (A photo and a location?) See if the lawyer would take the case and what he or she would charge you. If not, and you still want to pursue it, try another lawyer.

If you are looking for some damages because SD handled Mom's finances in 2012 while you should have been handling them as POA, it will be helpful to take to the lawyer evidence that Mom was not competent to make her own decisions at that point. For example, bring in the doctor's declaration of her incompetence and definitely bring in any court order declaring her incompetent.

If you do pursue this in court, good luck. Please keep us informed. We learn from each other.
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So well over a year after your mother changed the bank account she then has these various diagnoses? And now you want to sue the chef too? Ummmmm, no you don't have a basis for a lawsuit. What does all this stuff after she was hospitalized, waaay after she changed the bank account, have to do with anything you want to start a lawsuit about?
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As you can see by pass posts--- 9/21/2014-9/24/2014 was admitted to the hospital ADMITTING DIAGNOSES:
1. Altered level of consciousness.
was just one
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I called to make a report on 9/17/2013 on the care my mother is receiving.
1. No oversight on the meds and who was giving them.
No record of what was given. It was reported to me that the caregiver admit to giving my mother Valium and that my mother made a statement to a friend that she did not want to take meds.
2. The swelling in my mom’s lower extremities had pitting edema.
3. The fact my mom was way less alert and her balance was weak.
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Crickett, why did you call APS on September 17th?
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Crickett, click on *Report this Post* [lower right hand corner of your post] and when it is removed, chances are you can start over.
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Opppsss I did not mean to add names
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Yes I do
9/5/2013 Was told mom is on Hydrocodone and Trazadone
1.September 17,2013, September 18,2013
Called APS mom’s caseworker
2.September 19, 2013
Report was sent to D.P.S.S.
September 23,2013
APS Supervisor called about my report and said the worker is making a report and would contact me once it is done and that I would be added to the service plan.
9/21/2014-9/24/2014 was admitted to the hospital ADMITTING DIAGNOSES:
1. Altered level of consciousness.
2. Urinary tract infection.
3. At rial fibrillation.
4. Hyperli pidemia.
5. Hypothyroidism.
6. Hypertension.
DISCHARGE DIAGNOSES:
1. urinary tract infection with Escherichia coli.
2. Hypertension.
3. At rial fibrillation.
4. Dementia.
5. Moderate-to-severe aortic stenosis.
6. Congestive heart failure.
7. Altered level of consciousness, resolved.
9/25/2014 my mom was moved to a care center
9/27/2014 report sent stating
I would like to add the care givers to be included in the report of or a new one done. Caregiver admitted to me that she gave my mom meds and that she had no training in this area, therefore I feel contributed to her declining mental alertness rendering my mom in bed 24 hours a day. I was told she was a care giver, not a CNA and even if she is a CNA she can not give meds. I feel she was neglectful in her care to my mom for performing this and her failure to report changes in my mom health appears to be criminal. I also want included the chef the for her role in this for she was acting out of her job description by assisting in my mom's care for example lifting etc. The caregiver admitted to a friend that she did give valium 5mg to my mom.
10/1/2014 Called the APS worker and they found no neglect
In California, Certified Home Health Aides may assist patients with medications which are ordinarily self administered but shall not administer medications of any kind. There was no record of what was given and the care giver just stated I give what your step dad says to give.
When I asked for details ;due to confidentiality she the case worker is not able to discuss the investigations
This was just one of many
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