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My mother (now 84) has lived by herself since my parents divorced 40 years ago. Historically, we have never been close and my sister, who lives three states away, hasn't talked to her in 25 years (lots of family baggage). I live 70 miles away, call her weekly, have groceries delivered weekly, and visit quarterly (which is usually unpleasant b/c she doesn't want me there). She is bitter, angry, and housebound...also illiterate. The last couple of months her rage has increased greatly, especially when I ask her questions about work she is having done on the house. She can't read contracts and she just signed a big one to have foundation work done on her house. She can't answer questions coherently and I see large check amounts clearing her account. I haven't pushed it because she is truly not a nice person and I'm hurt and bothered with her anger toward me when she lashes out. I'm afraid she is going to run out of money and, honestly, that I am going to have to take care of her, which would be hell! I have POA. Can I become a gatekeeper for her financial spending? She would not support this as she feels she is capable and on top of things. What can I do?

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You need to look closely at he language in your poa or even review it with an attorney. It may or may not require documentation that your mother has become competent in order for you to take over the finances.

The bigger problem is prying the checkbook away from mom. My guess is it will be an epic battle.

Given your family history you could also walk away. Having poa does not compell you contractually to take over her affairs. You could notify the local authorities of the situation and step away.

Easier said than done, I know, but this could be a huge and messy undertaking. I control my folks affairs via a poa. They are sweet old folks but it ain’t no picnic.
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If there is any way possible, I'd take time to visit with her in her home for a few days. That way, you can actually observe how she's functioning. You can see how she's faring with running her household, meals, mail, medication, etc. It can be shocking what you discover, as most people who struggle are pretty good at covering up their challenges, until it's really bad. When I finally got into my LO's house, there was piled up mail, bills unpaid, outdated and spoiled food in the kitchen, meds not taken, appointments not kept with doctor, etc. I'd try to get in, before it gets that bad. If you see that she needs for you to take over the finances pursuant to the POA, I'd kindly volunteer and do it. If she refuses, I'd seek legal advice with an Elder Law attorney to get your options. That's what is so sad. Sometimes, they refuse to relinquish control, because they can't see they are not able to properly handle things. I was fortunate, that with my LO, she was happy, that I took over things. She said, thank you, so much. I trust you. And never mentioned it again.
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The POA gives you the power to handle your mom's financial or business affairs but not necessarily the right to handle her affairs. If your mom is competent she can spend her money any way she chooses.

I know you said you haven't really discussed this with her but if you're concerned that she's going to run out of money that is something that needs to be discussed. I suggest putting something down on paper, something she can look at and refer to. For example, her monthly income vs her monthly expenses. And by all means include the expense of having her home repaired.

Good luck.
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