Husband recently diagnosed with MCI has been making some serious financial decisions using credit cards I had no idea he had, and now dipping into our joint checking account.
I have moved all of my paychecks, SS check into a new account only in my name, and tried to protect myself, but legally as his spouse I'm responsible for these expenses even if my name isn't on them. He refuses to give me power of attorney, and lies continually about spending this money! This is so unlike him, is this a typical characteristic of MCI or early dementia?

Hummin, you posted a reply to Debs two days ago, and it sounded like you need much more advice about this. I read your profile, and it seems that you have been on the brink of divorce for quite a long time. Your husband has “put you through a lot in the past”. Your boys are now in their 20s, and your husband is not much more than 50. Your special needs son should be getting some sort of pension income, and you are drowning in your husband’s debt. Surely it’s time to look at leaving and starting a real life of your own. Perhaps you could put a Question on the site, to get more information for you – not really right to hijack Deb’s thread. See if your local library has public access computers with a keyboard – give your thumbs a rest!
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Reply to MargaretMcKen

I believe it was Suze Orman that once mentioned that credit card debt is
"unsecured debt" and if you're not on the account, didn't sign the application, then you're not liable for the payments. But good to check with EC attorney.
When my mom was diagnosed with Dementia, her Geriatrician gave me medical
certification saying that she wasn't able to make medical decisions. We (mom & I) called the cc company to close her account saying it was being fraudulently used (which my yb opened & used freely). Months later the cc company calls wanting payment for the balance! (Since I wasn't on the account, they refused to tell me anything about the charges. I don't know how they got my phone number).
I explained mom's condition, lives in a care home and the account had been closed. They asked for and I sent them a copy of the Dr's diagnosis and told them they weren't getting any money.
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Reply to naia2077

Imho, you've got a good start by moving your income to a separate account, but I also suggest that you retain an elder law attorney.
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Reply to Llamalover47
hummin2 May 22, 2021
Hello. Good to know advice. Thanks for sharing. Well I have a spouse that has MVD. We have two boys (22 and 25) .
But has lied and cheated in the past. Now a adult child that has came out of no where age 27 along with just finding out there are multiple hospital bills as long as Dr. bills that was never paid and they are coming to the surface due to tax season that I thought was paid. I have drowned and still getting deeper with those that has/is accumulated. I can not make enough money for the past, now, and future. I need a vehicle now instead of keep feeding the one I have $50.00 in gas a week and to keep feeding $ into it for fixing it every time it breaks down. But the credit is no good as well. I do not know how to get out of everything he accumulated in the past and reflects on me. Any suggestions?
Lock his credit with the major credit reporting agencies. (You may have to do a white lie of your own by pretending to be him.) You can do it all online, and they give you a password (DON'T LOSE IT!) to unlock it again. He can't apply for any credit cards if his credit is locked.

If he knows your Social Security number, you should lock your credit, too, to prevent him from going that route. You can unlock it anytime you want to apply for credit or a loan, then lock it again after the bank has checked it.
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Reply to MJ1929

"Lying" may be a symptom of dementia in your case. Your husband may not remember what he has done financially and will "make up" reasons for his actions when confronted. He may also have some obsessive behaviors dealing with finances that are also common with dementia.

How to deal with it:
1- "White lie" of your own. Tell him that all of joint accounts and his accounts have been hacked. The bank will issue him a new debit/credit card. Give him a reloadable gift card from a major credit card company. Load a reasonable amount of "spending money" each month onto his card. Close any accounts that are only your husband's or joint accounts and place the money into your accounts.

2 - Have doctor evaluate your husband in light of this new development. It is reasonable for the doctor to declare him mentally incompetent. In most states, you will not need a power of attorney to handle your joint accounts. Before you have him declared mentally incompetent, make sure that you are an authorized representative on all financial matters: bills, banking, doctors, insurance...

3 - You might also talk with your bankers about this situation and they may have other strategies to help.

4 - It might be worthwhile to talk to a local lawyer that handles family law or elder law. He/She can give you the best legal advice to protect you financially while also caring for your husband.
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Reply to Taarna

I just want to add something here. "Mild Cognitive Impairment" is often a fallacy. Loved ones think, "Oh, it's nothing awful! He's fine! No big deal!" Next thing you know, we read stories about a loved one with supposed "MCI" that's wandering out of the house in the middle of the night getting lost or rubbing his feces all over the walls. Mild Cognitive Impairment is not always so 'mild'. Lots of doctors don't know their butts from a hole in the ground when making such a diagnosis, either. What one considers 'mild' another may consider 'advanced'. Dementia can progress very quickly and a person can step down into a whole new level of dementia from one day to the next. Don't fool yourself about the Mild part of the MCI diagnosis.

That said, my mother lies like a rug nowadays. She has what the doctors diagnosed in 2016 as 'progressive dementia'. When cognition issues crop up, many people are in deep denial about it and want to do things THEIR way, or make decisions to PROVE their 'fine' and there is 'nothing wrong with them.' "See, I'll show YOU I'm fine! Watch this! "

Then all hell breaks loose while they wreak havoc.

Lying (also known as confabulation) IS indeed a symptom of dementia.

It's true that in the early stages of the disease, people with dementia might fib to cover for memory loss. But most examples of “lying” are dementia symptoms rather than intentional deception. They're more like an unconscious defense mechanism.

Educate yourself on what your husband is facing emotionally and mentally. Go to to read up on the subject, even though he wasn't diagnosed with "Alzheimers" per se. A broken brain is a broken brain, no matter what diagnosis it's given.

You've gotten some great advice about consulting an Elder Care atty to find out what the most prudent avenue to take would be.

God bless you; wishing you all the best of luck with a difficult situation.
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Reply to lealonnie1

Depending on what state you live in will determine your liability on a credit card he gets in his own name. Ask an attorney or call legal aid to figure out how to totally separate his spending from your own.

Is he shopping online? Donating money to sketchy things? As for the joint checking, was he using a debit card to get money out of there? Or going to the bank to get cash? Do you actually see the things he is buying/ordering? Do you think he's really lying (to hide it) or he really doesn't remember spending the money? Either way, if he denies doing it - that opens the door for you to tell him it must be fraud and need to cancel the credit cards. Don't let bank reissue a debit card. If anything at all - use one of the existing credit cards for misc purchases and put a very low limit on it. You pay for big expenses by way of a debit or credit card that you keep hidden.
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Reply to my2cents

You should talk to his doctor about this. Hopefully he will agree to go and be tested for dementia or other illnesses that can effect his way if thinking. Your doctor may be able to give you contacts for resources to help in this matter. You could contact the aging and disability resource center in the county that you live in. They may be able to give you contacts for agencies that could help. Otherwise you may have to contact a lawyer that specializes in power of attorney law to protect your assets. Good luck.
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Reply to Annamarie1234

You have a man with dementia and on top of that he is trying to hold on by controlling you and everything around him. I do not know the answer but I do think you must speak with an eldercare specialist as to exactly how to handle this situation and be protected from the harm he is causing. You are in for tough time and action must be started to put an end to this, even if it is necessary to get guardianship or place him. He cannot be allowed to destroy or harm you - you have done nothing to deserve that and must not allow it.
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Reply to Riley2166

There is a condition called anosognosia that seems to me that every ... or almost every ... person has when they have dementia that you may want to research and ask his doc about.
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Reply to Betsysue2002
Mom7228 May 20, 2021
Guardianship is kinda expensive but depending how much he is spending might be worth it.
You could set up an online acct for the card and ask to drop the credit limit or close the account.
You could ask the post office to hold the mail and you pick it up.
The SS information is correct. They have the right to send a letter to the dr and yes they do send a letter afterwards to your husband. If your holding the mail he won't see it. If no response is given to SSI the change to you will occur.

I would also try to call the credit card companies to advise the situation. They may be able to help you.
I would suggest youbseek an attorney to help you get through the legal process. You can ask a judge to grant you POA.
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Reply to SeniorsHelp
disgustedtoo May 20, 2021
A judge can appoint guardian (for the person) or conservator (for finances, etc) but can't appoint a POA. The person who the POA is for is the only one who can grant this "power."
Regarding filing as Representative Payee at the Social Security office: they will want the name of his doctor, and they will send a form to the doctor’s office that asks, “Is John Smith capable of managing his own benefit payments?” You must talk to his doctor prior to going to the SSA office, and outline in detail his destructive behavior. If SSA has evidence of incapability, they will send him a letter stating they will make you his payee. If he objects, the SSA office (with dr’s statement already in file) would ask him who he would like to be his payee, if not his wife. They would make SOMEONE his payee, and they will listen to his suggestions regarding that decision.
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Reply to SSAretired
disgustedtoo May 20, 2021
Rep Payee is the only real legal way to take over someone else's SS payments, and most of what you've posted is correct. In my mother's case, they never asked for any medical documentation or a doctor name. There are a number of questions asked of me, my mother was NOT with me and they didn't ask to see anything else. They DO send notice to the person that you are requesting to be Rep Payee, so they can dispute it or request someone else, but it was one of the easiest things I had to do for my mother! By the time we got to this (No federal entity accepts POAs and federal mail can't be forwarded), mom was already in MC, for at least a year. I needed to have paperwork, etc sent to me because we were planning to sell the condo, and this was the only way it could be done. The letter went to her at the facility, but the nurse had learned her lesson in handing a bill to mom. IF it didn't look like personal mail, a card or something like that, she wouldn't give it to mom, so the SS letter came to me anyway.

While this could help by preserving some of his income, if he has other sources of income like a pension, OP will need his ok, him to appoint her POA (he refuses) or have the court award conservatorship. Given he isn't really that bad cognitively yet, the letter, if he gets it, could set him off! Certainly I would plan to snag all mail until the approval comes (can take some time to get that.) Once approved, you set up a special account for those funds and only you can access them.
Moving your income to a separate account is a good start. You should, as others have suggested, at least get a consult with EC atty (some offer a free initial one) for ideas about how to protect yourself.

Accounts that are not joint like CCs can, on some level, be considered YOUR problem if/when he defaults. Even if you are not legally responsible, collection places won't care and WILL harass you, so start with EC atty and find out what you can do.

One option *may* be to become Rep Payee for his SS income. When you apply (local office), they will send notice to him, but if you can snag that from the mail, it would be best. They do this to protect people from other taking over their SS, but in this case it is to protect him, not defraud him.

Lying or just living in another reality? Whenever dementia affects the brain, whatever they think or "understand" is real to them. If possible, protect what assets you can and avoid confronting or arguing with him over these issues. It will only cause anger and frustration. The EC atty may be able to offer ways to get the CC issues taken care of. Removing access to the cards may help in the short term, but if he is capable enough, he can get replacements.

Dementia affects each person in different ways. It depends on the underlying cause, and in many respects the person's own personality and background. While there are shared symptoms and behaviors, each person will have their own unique "journey."

Since he refuses to consider POAs, you need to have that EC atty consult to find the best ways to protect yourself and him from himself.
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Reply to disgustedtoo

My step dad who was an accountant, lost his ability to manage money early on. He also used to keep the books for several organizations well into his 80's, but it soon became evident that he no longer knew what he was doing. He would get very defensive if asked questions.

What is he spending money on?

Dad has no diagnosis of any mental decline, but he has OCD, hoarding and is fixated on preparing for a major international financial crisis. This fixation goes back many years. He spends everything he has on buying 'supplies'. He has so much stuff piled around his bed that the paramedics could barely get him into his bed when he had a bad fall earlier this year.
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Reply to Tothill

The lying itself is not a symptom of MCI. However, MCI often is diagnosed in terms of memory impairment and/or loss of or worsening of executive functions. The reckless spending of money is a behavior that may be demonstrating loss of executive function: he's no longer making appropriate decisions about the use of money.

In terms of your legal responsibilities as a spouse, you need to check with an attorney as to whether you are legally responsible for his expenses when your name is not on the account. I am not sure you are correct that you are, but best to check. You wouldn't need an elder law attorney just to check on that specific point.

Meanwhile, you need to be considering suggestions others are making in terms of trying to stop his destructive behavior. I am dubious, though, about you could obtain guardianship--which he will contest--with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment. Someone with MCI can normally manage his/her ADLs OK. And MCI progresses to dementia about 50-60% of the time--not always. (I'm quoting the literature with which I'm familiar.) It sounds to me like your husband may be denying to himself his MCI diagnosis and then is lying to you because he can't admit to himself or to you that he's making mistakes that tend to substantiate his diagnosis.
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Reply to caroli1

You don't need POA to stop the financial bleed.

If you can not do anything on the accounts that he has opened in his name only, I don't know if you are legally responsible for them.

I recommend seeing a financial attorney and finding out how to protect the marital assets and yourself from his bad decisions.

Can you return anything? I think that I would do that with as many things as possible, if it is that type of purchasing.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal

Do you have a diagnosis?
If so you must now get guardianship. You will need letters from the MD (often two) and you will go to an Elder Law Attorney. You will be made financial POA. All bills and decisions will go to you and you will cancel all credit card accounts.
How impaired is your husband. If you hide/destroy his cards for now will he be able to reorder them?
You cannot let this go. Financial abuse of elders in this state often happens they say in New York Times as many as 6 years before a diagnosis as their executive function is so very poor that they make dreadful decisions, sometimes about scams. Recommend you dig up an article last Sunday New York Times business section.
You are going to have to take control here. I hope you have support in doing so. I am so relieved you have taken control of the money that is YOURS. You badly need the advice of Elder Law Attorney and may need to do a legal separation to get your own money SAFE.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

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