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I have written on this forum before seeing advice on how to handle Mom's finances given her age and dementia. Quick summary of situation - 78 Year old mother who was an accountant and was very successful back in the day in the finance industry. She retired 8 years ago in a very healthy financial situation. She still owns a primary home and a vacation home.


Her dementia has deteriorated enough that she no longer can find her way around a computer and has stopped opening mail and paying bills. Most of her utilities have been turned off at one point or another for lack of payment. She recently received a property tax delinquency notice for not paying the property tax on her second home. We have offered and suggested many times that we should take over the bill paying and money management. That discussion always leads to anger on her part and a stern lecture from her on how she managed multi-million dollar portfolios and investments for 30+ years (which is true). But, dementia has changed all of that. She does not realize OR does not want to admit that her skills have diminished so much that she does not collect or open mail or even use a computer.


Just thinking out loud: we find it hard to believe that she can still file a tax return. She says she does, but she says a lot of things now that are not true. As an accountant, she prepared her own return forever. No way (even now) would she admit that she needs help. My guess, it is not happening.


Any thoughts on: 1) can we find out if indeed she is filing? 2) what steps can we take to assure that her finances are not a disaster when she passes on someday. Besides trying to avoid the mess of a financial disaster that we would need to manage, it is also something that in her right mind, she would never want. Not too long ago, she was the most financially organized person I knew. Now it is all crumbling and we are at a loss. I do have POA and have found it to be useless. Anytime I try to use it to step in, I am told that Mom needs to sign a bunch of documents and have them notarized. Obviously, she tells me to go to hell when I attempt to make that happen.


Any and all advice welcome.

Find Care & Housing
Wish I knew the answer to this.. when FIL moved in with BIL we assumed BIL was on top of things.. then we got the panicy call about the river house not having the taxes paid, up for auction.. Luckily a neighbor at the river say the sale notice, we called FIL.. then the panic hit.. and dear hubs had to handle it all.. BIL is a ding dong. Seems FIL and BIL forgot to change his address.. but he was still paying the insurance and bills.. DUH Hubs and I joke we should have just bought it at the tax sale... But it can be hard to wrestle the information from FIL,, he doesn't trust anyone and he is 96
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Reply to pamzimmrrt
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I love it when families won't take over their parent's business, because their parent gets mad. If your loved one indeed has dememtia, just start taking the bills when she isn't looking and set up everything autopay. She won't even know. Generally, on the bills there is a place to sign up. You have to just dive in, dam the torpedo coming at you and JUST DO IT. It is in her best interest and yours to take the dive. Remember, she forgets the moment before this one. Let her rant and rave. It gives her control for the moment. She might even say she hates you, That is the disease talking, don't take it personally. Love Ya, hang in there.
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Reply to Onlychild64
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If there's a problem, your mother will receive a notice from the IRS, and you can get one or two extensions to handle.
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Reply to UptoHere
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Huge Thank to all for the replys. Some great stuff and great ideas. Much appreciated!
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Reply to SoninPA
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I think your mom is aware to some extent that her mind is failing and she is very scared. Pretending it is not happening is a way to deal with the fear. If you tell her you are getting your affairs in order just in case something happens to you, you might want to ask for her advice on this. Then ask her to show you her files, so you know how to take care of things if something happens to her. If you act like the respectful student, she may allow you to become her assistant.
As for the POA, it is a legal document giving you authority. See the lawyer about how to handle the idiots who will not accept it. I got a letter from the lawyer to send to any of these people. It worked every time. While you are at the lawyer, ask for their advise on this situation. The IRS has no problem accepting tax returns I file and sign as "Jane Smith POA for John Brown" and enclose a copy of the full POA.
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Reply to Toadhall
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Please see an elder law attorney. If she's in arrears on her bills, I really doubt that she could be preparing an income tax return - state and fed.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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If the POA is notarized as it should be, there should not be any extra things to sign. Your mother sounds beyond incompetent and needs you to first of all sign for an emergency guardianship and then get the regular one.
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Reply to cmagnum
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A Form 2848 would need to be filled out and presented to the IRS.
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Reply to tacy022
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The absolute last thing an accountant would want is to leave you with a mess to sort through. Dealing with my parents' finances prompted me to put together a "how-to" for those who have to follow me. Might your mom have done something similar years ago?

I think I would start by appealing to her sense of organization. She may not be able to do it anymore, but she's proud of how "together" she has been in the past. So if you approach it from a "what should I do when you're gone" standpoint, she might be more willing to show you (and brag about) how she has organized everything and where things are. In my case, I used the "Get It Together" book that NOLO puts out. Extremely helpful guide that you might be able to work through WITH her. It might make her less defensive.

Once you know where things are, use your POA to get duplicates of documents, bills, notices, etc. sent to YOUR email. Your mom would still get the originals in the mail, but you get notified. Unfortunately, some of the government agencies don't accept the regular POA (they have their own forms); but I've found that banks, investment companies, etc. DO accept them. Again, you have access to the info online and can keep tabs on her finances.

Sorry I don't have a specific solution regarding the tax filing history. The Elder Care Attorney may be your best bet there.
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Reply to express
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You need to go/run to an Elder Attorney. Get an emergency guardianship. If you have a copy of the property tax delinquency notice & can prove she had the cash to pay it, that is good evidence that something is not clicking. I'm sure your mom is scared of the situation, too.
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Reply to dads1caregiver
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Our scenario, my brother has POA for Dad, when I asked my brother if Dad had done his taxes, multiply brother assumed that he had. Turned out he had not for 5 years. Dad does not have dementia.

Strp dad was an accountant, he died last Nov, he had not done his 2016 nor 2017 taxes. He had dementia.

For your POA who prepared it? Has the family doctor stated Mum is not competent to handle her finances? What addition information does the Tax Depr need to give you access to her information? Here in Canada I can easily assign a Representative with CRA. Quick to do online.
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Reply to Tothill
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