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My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in May 2014. She has been taking chemo treatments for a little over a year now. The last 5 weeks she haven't had a treatment at her doctors discretion due to her weight loss and weakness.

Her doctor had a good talk with her about calories and weight gain and the consequences if she does not eat and drink her water. My mother promised him she would do better, but instead is eating and drinking less since the talk.

She can barely sign her name these days (but is rational and coherent) . She doesn't have anything in place regarding a will, trust or anything else. There's two of us, my brother and I. We are both in the home with mom and share care giving. My brother has lived with mom since dad died in 2001. I came home to help with her in 2014 (reside in California). I've spoken with our mother regarding a will, what she want us to do on her behalf if God doesn't restore her health.

All of the paperwork (medical, doctor, household bills, etc), prepare and deliver moms water and food and help with her personal hygiene if its needed. My brother help with cleaning the kitchen, and takes care of the (5 acre) yard and repair things when broken, and we both take mom for her chemo treatments. My brother has been a substance abuser over 30 years and mom knows this.

My brother and I are in the dark! What can I do and what kind of will should my brother and I try to convince her to get? We are completely clueless.

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57p? and kinda doesn't matter anymore; what's done is done and I believe he did know that but he also knew what mil wanted, which was to leave that piece to than one grandchild, which he didn't want to do, so guess, yes, he could have made will and left her out, but then what would have been the point of making a will was my point; she would have been left out without a will; anyway just ran into the neighbor at the store today whose son is interested so might begin to get really interesting
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DebDaughter, not including the "is intestacy really that big a headache?" bit you have just composed 471 words answering your own question.

What someone could have pointed out to your FIL much earlier on is that nothing obliged him to share the contents of his will with anyone, not even with MIL, while he was alive. He could have made his will, left it with his lawyer, and heard no more about it; and if he'd done it properly nobody would be left in any doubt about what was to be done with his estate.

But as long as you don't mind "seeing what happens" when all the wrangling and misunderstanding is over, then no it's not a problem. And it is the norm (guilty!): in the UK, more people die intestate than not; and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the same is true in the US. Periodically the government and the professions join forces and run a publicity campaign urging us all to get it done. Myself, I've found it too depressing to see "I leave my entire estate of 57p to be divided equally among my three children or their heirs" down in black and white so I haven't bothered; but if you have property of any significant value, and certainly if you have any dependants you care about, you need to get it done.
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EXACTLY what Countrymouse said. The lawyer/POA is for YOU not HER.
My Grandmother pulled exactly the same stunt -- ("I don't need a will, I'll be dead, so it doesn't matter"). She did finally do one, which made life much easier when she passed years later.
Maybe doing written records every month and acting more like a formal accountant might help you look more business-like, & business-like stuff (ie POA) could be accomplished?
Also, figure out with your brother how you two are going to handle things. At some point, adjust yourself to the fact that your addict brother very well may waste his inheritance, but that the estate still needs to be split 50/50.
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is intestacy really that big a headache? my fil died that way and it didn't really seem like that big a deal, especially if she doesn't have any debts; granted, or maybe I should say especially, if she's just wanting to leave things the way they would be anyway, to both kids; one thing that did make things somewhat sticky in his case; well, was mil wanted to leave some of the land to one particular grandchild and he didn't really, so he started somewhat the division process, as in he had it surveyed as in divided; definitely had one deed drawn up for one son and dil, who'd lived on the property, although in their own mobile home, and made sure they got theirs, so nothing could be done to force them off their part, at least not yet, which is another issue, which is actually why I came on here today, but anyway, may have had another one drawn up but not given, then left the rest - or maybe he got too sick to finish, but did he not leave/give instructions to the attorney to do them all at the time and he just did that one first and got it and gave it; don't really see how that would have worked so think he did this specifically - to be done however after he passed away, did leave instructions, I think, or at least done, for life estate for mil to be left, which is the issue now, even though she doesn't even understand and says she didn't want, at least if that gives her any responsibility; she no longer even lives on the property; she's remarried and moved to her husband's house, who, we don't think, has made any provision for her to be able to stay there if something happens to him; has his property all going to some of his grandchildren, I think, who are actually step-grandchildren, belonging to his first wife by her first husband; gets complicated, doesn't it? why think she's concerned about her house being rented out, but guess if she needs it she can always kick them out like her neighbor but don't think she realizes she can; don't think she understands, really, what authority her life estate gives her, since the deeds are actually in all the children plus this one grandchild's name, who she also made her POA, we believe, so not sure what might end up happening, plus some other issues that have arisen from this whole grandchild situation, especially regarding us in particular; maybe good thing we don't and never, as a couple, lived there, the only ones who didn't and because of me and I never even knew the complications of the situation but we have it on our hands now or maybe we don't; guess we'll see when it's all over
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Thank you all very much for your insightful information and compassion. May the blessing's of God continue in all of your lives!

mj
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On the cookery issue, the Royal Marsden Cancer Cook Book has had rave reviews from patients and their families, as well as dietitians. You can get it on Amazon - I don't know if there's an American edition, but if not suggest one!

I'm sorry to hear that your mother is digging her heels in about making a will. I'm sure you're right that the trust issue is important, but she really isn't thinking things through - though on the other hand, considering how ill she must feel, perhaps it's more excusable that she just doesn't want to be bothered with anything much. Imagine you had a really nasty bout of 'flu and someone was hassling you with paperwork - even if you'd normally agree that it's important you'd probably not want to know.

You could still speak to a lawyer (word of mouth recommendation is always best, if you can think of reliable, business-like people to ask), explain the situation and get a really basic will drafted simply in order to prevent chaos. You then ask the lawyer to visit your mother, explain in turn to her that the purpose of this document is to save her children the completely needless and avoidable headaches that intestacy would otherwise cause, reassure her that any will changes nothing while the testator is still alive - may she live forever - and tell her to "sign here." You will also need a couple of witnesses to the signature. A witness, by the way, must not be a beneficiary; so have uninvolved friends or neighbours lined up ready.
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You have every right to be angry with your mom (in case you're feeling those feelings). She's leaving you and your brother in a bad position once she leaves this world. In my opinion, a loving mother should want to take care of her children and make it easy for them instead of avoiding/ignoring the steps that will help them when she's gone. Particularly since you've both been physically active in her day-to-day care. So if you're feeling any anger (I would be), it's understandable. Hugs to you for doing the right thing for your mom, despite her lack of support for you.
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One way I got my parents to update their Will was tell them that the State would tax the daylights out of their estate unless the Will is written by an Elder Law attorney, yada, yada, yada.... the word "taxes" got my Dad's attention.... the Wills, POA's, etc have since been updated :)

So ask your Mom if she would rather see you and your brother get her estate, or the State get a lot of her estate from taxes [sometimes we need to fib to light a fire under stubborn elders].
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Well, she's wrong! Find her some online articles from AARP or something and leave them around. She probably does not want to think about it, but if she has any heart for you at all, she might just be willing to do it. Or, maybe she'd like to make sure some amount goes to a charity, that could be a reason...
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She did not consent to getting an attorney, POA's, will or anything. She says she doesn't need any of that.
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So where has this ended? No will or legal documents? You guys have reached some sort of family agreement? What am I missing here?
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Thank you all for your suggestions! After posting my question I told my mother about my call to the elder care attorney. When I explained that I talked to him about a will and POA's in case she is incapacitate her response was, "you already take care of the business, I don't need an attorney."

I forgot to state that my mother has trust issues. She doesn't trust either of us, although i take care of all of her business. She's checked on me a couple of times. She thought I'd taken money from her (had my brother thinking the same thing). When shown what was done with her money (bills) she finally relaxed in that area.

The problem for me is she has a reason not to trust my brother (he has a life long addiction), but I've never given her a reason for mistrusting me. I've even paid off lots of credit card bills, made big ticket purchases (washer,dryer), put money in her savings account and last of all forsook all to come and assist with her care.

I've learned so much about how my mom see's me since I've returned home to help. I truely dont understand but has finally gottten past some of these things and only want the best for her. I even explained to her that I dont want anything from should she go home to be with the Lord. I just don't want it to be difficult for me or my brother to take care of her last wishes, or for it to be difficult or lengthy for my brother should she decide to leave all to him.

She did not change her mind, no legal paperwork or attorney needed.

Thanks for all your suggestions...May God bless and keep you all!
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Contact a friend or neighbor and ask for a lawyer referral. Then immediately call them and make an appointment; if mom can't travel easily, ask if the attorney will come to the home; some are willing to do that and then have the discussion with mom.

At the same time, the lawyer can draw up DPOAs, Advanced Medical Directive (to document mom's wishes if she should become incapacitated and doesn't want extensive further treatment), etc.

Figure about $700 for all of the paperwork -- but it is well worth it to have it completed legally and be up to date.

Get started before something happens and mom can't make decisions or is incapacitated.
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Another thought, unrelated to the EP issues... does the infusion center where your mother gets treatment have a support group? Does it have music, art or Reiki therapy? If so, and if you can possibly get chemo on the days of these therapies, try them.

Reiki can relax your mother, music can do that as well as calm her and help counteract the overwhelming fatigue she must be experiencing.

Just these soothing factors can help.
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First, as to the physical issues. Doctor's good intent notwithstanding, that much consistent chemo can affect your mother's taste buds. During my sister's last round of chemo (either the 5th or 6th), nothing tasted good to her.

After experimentation, we discovered that some juices (apricot, pear) appealed to her, as did salty foods. I got the juices in bottles which I shook a bit before buying so I could ensure they weren't watery juices but had some substance. I also cooked more sausages as they're more salty and she ate those.

In retrospect, I might also have tried Gatorade for rehydration. Sometimes nutritional supplements help as well: Boost, Ensure, etc.

Second, try to find time to become acquainted with the CURE website:
curetoday/. It's online but also publishes a quarterly magazine for those with cancer and for caregivers as well.

Sometime ago there was an article specifically addressing loss of appetite.

Third, as to the will, try to find an attorney through recommendation of a friend. If you can't, search online for the state bar directory of your state, look for an estate planning or elder law practice groups, and contact those firms.

Speak with them about your situation, absolutely ask about their hourly or flat plan rates before you meet with them.

Another alternative is to search online for the local county bar association, and ask for lists of estate planning or elder law firms. Then call and ask the same questions.

My personal preference is a mid sized law firm with a variety of practice areas - estate planning, litigation, real estate, tax, and sometimes more. You'll get attorneys who have easy access to other specialty areas if they're needed in order to prepare a will for your mother. Single practitioners don't have this kind of easy access.

Attorneys generally meet with the client and go over all the issues. Before the meeting, list all of your mother's assets: bank accounts, mutual, stocks, CDs, house, car....anything of value, although you don't need to list all the personal items. If you can, fax it to the attorney so he/she can contact the institutions if necessary to prepare transfer documentation, or just to assess the situation to make recommendations.

The attorney may recommend that some of the assets be retitled in your mother's name with the two of you as having survivorship rights. There may be other suggestions so the assets can pass directly to the two of you jointly in equal shares and avoid probate.

You can also check out a law firm's website, see if it has an archived list of publications on estate planning and read those. It will not only help prepare you for any meeting, but it will give you an idea of the breadth of the law firm's practice.

If your mother is too weak for a visit, the attorney may come to the house. Ours came to the hospital as my sister was too weak to take any kind of trip. In another situation at a law firm for which I worked, the attorney spoke at length with the individual, had the documents prepared and went out to the home the next day for execution. There was a time factor involved; the woman died shortly after executing her will.

A good firm will have flexible attorneys to accommodate someone who's ill. if anyone tells you they can't do that, keep looking.

Maggie raised the issue of taking your mother to a bank. Good point. Given your mother's weakness, a good law firm would make alternate arrangements and handle all the transfers by contacting the institutions, getting the forms faxed over, prepare them, and bring them for execution at the signing.

Then the staff would either fax them (if the institution accepted electronic signatures), or hand deliver them. That's why I recommend a good sized law firm because they have the resources to move quickly.

Best wishes, and I do hope your mother is able to regain some of her strength.
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"Mom, who do you want to leave everything to when you pass? Mom will probably say, "To both of you,"

"Okay, I'm going to have an attorney draw that up for you,"

Call an attorney. Hopefully, it is someone you know. Tell them the circumstances and ask him to draw up a simple will leaving everything to you and your brother. When he calls that it's ready, make an appointment and bring your mom in for a visit and signature. If the atty won't even draw it up without meeting your mom, you'll have to bring her in first.

There are other things you can do to make it easier to transfer assets at her death, but it doesn't sound like mom's up to bank visits...
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