Should we give mom back her checkbook?


For about 4 years I have paid my mom's bills and attended to all financial matters. My dad died in March 2015. We are selling the house she and dad had for 38 years and she currently lives in a condo purchased with some of her investment money. She will net $5-10,000 (if we're lucky) for the house (they owed a lot on it) , she has $12,000 in cash and gets $1500 a month in SS.

I did the finances because my mom was overwhelmed in the last few years caring for my dad. He died a slow, painful death and she willing let me do it.

Now that things have calmed down and she is adjusting very well to her condo AND the fact that she WILL NOT listen to me or my brother when we discuss her overspending makes us think that she should just get her bills back and pay them on her own. She has had a few mini strokes in the past, still drives, has some memory issues, but is fairly healthy and active so she is capable of doing it( I think) .....we just are pretty sure she will spend all of her extra cash and maybe get into trouble....overspend, start getting late fees, rack up a big credit card bill, etc.

Do we just let that happen? It is her money and she just believes she is entitled to just go spend money she doesn't have. Nothing we say convinces her otherwise.

We haven't specifically asked her if she wants her checkbook back but are pretty sure she does.

Thanks for listening!

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Roseanne, You mentioned that Mom has a credit card. Have you lowered the available credit so she doesn't overspend OR get taken advantage of? You have all of her info, so call the credit card company and say you are her and want a much lower available credit. Whatever is reasonable for Her. (I wouldn't go over $500)
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freqflyer: My mom paid cash for the we spent down the investment money but it was a good deal and its a secure building with underground parking.

All of these answers are really making me question everything I've been thinking. I guess I have changed my mind and don't think she should get control back. I like the idea of giving her a weekly allowance. This is something my brother and I have talked about but ....we are reluctant and don't even know how to start the conversation...but we will have to eventuallly.
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Roseanne3, I wouldn't recommend that your Mom take back the billing. I would just give Mom an allowance that she can use each week. BUT from that allowance she would need to put away some money.... see if she can do it, and if so how much will she put away. If she spends it all, then you know she is unable to control her spending habits.

Sit Mom down and put together budget, and if she is not interested or it is too complex for her, again, Mom shouldn't be managing her own money.

Curious, did your Mom pay cash for her condo, or did she take out a mortgage? All it would take is a couple months of no mortgage payments to create quite a storm.

I did the same as AmyGrace above, with my Dad I took over all the finances. Now I need to have the Independent Living facility not send Dad a copy of the rental bill as he frets over the cost. I get the original bill to pay from Dad's accounts. Dad still has his credit card as he's real good about using that for doctor appointments or eating out when he treats his Caregiver to Burger King :)
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My mom is 80 and I agree with you that she probably has some dementia. I also never considered that if we did give control back to her it might be hard to get it back..if necessary. Thanks for that!
Right now her SS is deposited into a checking (joint with me) and I get the bills and pay them. She writes checks for cash....also uses a credit card...we'd like to get that away from her...That is the main problem. She overspends and like you said about your mom..she doesn't really have a grasp on how much things cost or how much she has. We do keep her informed but she often doesn't want to hear it or doesn't really comprehend.
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Don't go backwards on this. Like so many things with elders, driving, assisted living and finances, if you've made progress don't give it up. It will be a huge mess and you'll regret you did.

My Dad has the occasional fit when he hears that I'm doing all the bills and finances, but I will never back down. If I had not taken over it would have all gone to every sales and scam charity call.
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You don't say how old your mother is but it sounds like she has some dementia. If you are currently taking care of her expenses, I would continue to do so. If you give back control of all her finances especially if she is ok with your controlling it now and dementia gets worse it will be harder to take it back.
Suggestion: Keep the account you are controlling - is it joint and does her income go into it direct deposit? But open a second checking account (joint with you) and put a small amount in for her, for "spending money" and have the statements mailed to your address so you can monitor it and make periodic deposits. (You can do it all on line, make transfers between accounts, etc)

When our Mom's dementia got bad, I took over all her finances. We had a joint account but I had the checkbook and she never saw a financial statement or any bills. Her SS and pension went into it direct deposit.
As her dementia worsened she became obsessed and worried about money. It was important we kept knowledge of the amount of money she had and what her expenses were - away from her. She stressed constantly about the cost of IL ($2200 a month) because she had no rational understanding of costs and values any more. Bills were sent to me so she didn't see them and get upset or pay them twice.
We opened a "personal checking account" for her which had only a few hundred dollars in it and she felt "in control" because she could write checks every week to the hairdresser (sometimes two or three because she forgot she did it) My sister was co-signer and balanced that monthly. We added a bit of money when needed. Mom was in IL, didn't get out at all so didn't spend much. Yet she would spend hours balancing it (and never could) even though there was never more than 3-4 checks written a month.
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