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For instance, why can't I just be the Medical POA, why should there be Guardianship also? What are the differences?


I fear once a Guardian to dementia family member and they run off, got lost and can't find there way home would that be my fault. If they lost there money or go to the bank and don't know what happened to their money, and point the finger at me since I am living with her. Am I going to be liable because a dementia patient said I took her money? Example: She went to the bank and took out money, which I cannot stop. She withdrew $500. But she said she was given $800. She counted her money at home and found only $500. She said I took it, which I did not. Looked in her account and only $500 was withdrawn out. But I cannot convince her of it. If she say these kind of things to family and neighbors, and I'm her Guardian, would I be liable for her claims even with dementia?


She already had a neighbor convinced I am mistreating her because she want her independence and feels I am stopping her from that, so she makes up stories to anyone who will listen.


Can someone give answers and guidance, I'm not sure of what to do and what is best.

Bottom line, don’t do anything that you are not comfortable with. You are questioning it so take the time that you need and consider all your options. You have every right to control what you do in this matter.

Best wishes to you.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Apologies, I didn't see all responses while drafting my comment.

You don't necessarily need guardianship. If you don't have medical POA, a good EC atty can determine if she's capable of signing for this - no court required. If not, doctors and medical facilities often have a release form that allows you to be privy to her medical care - ask them first! Quick look up says they may not accept it if someone isn't of sound mind, but you could try. If none of the above is doable, that could be a problem going forward. The atty should be able to tell you if you'd need both conservatorship (control over ward's finances ~ DPOA) and guardianship (control over ward ~MPOA) vs your current DPOA and needing MPOA. I would push back on the conservatorship, as you already have the DPOA.

Guardianship DOES overrule any MPOA. Conservatorship overrules any DPOA. If you were appointed guardian, you wouldn't need the MPOA and since you have DPOA, you shouldn't need conservatorship. If the court appoints someone else to these roles, it WILL override your POAs AND they take over everything, her assets, decisions about where she lives, medical care, the whole shooting match! Unless you had bad blood between you AND she had no assets, I wouldn't consider allowing the court to appoint someone else.

As for the secondary question, yes another family member *could* be appointed medical POA IF AND ONLY IF your LO can be determined by the atty to be capable enough to sign - it is the LO who makes the POA appt, not the courts.

So, reach out to this atty again (or a better one) to see if there is any way she can still appoint someone as MPOA, whether it is you or someone else. If not, you should only need the partial guardianship, as you already have DPOA. Even if they push for conservatorship as well, in either case the workload shouldn't be very different. Keep good records and report when asked.

Also remember (this goes for anyone) - having any kind of POA or court ordered guardianship/conservatorship does NOT require you to provide the "hands-on" care. You merely have the power to oversee their finances and care. ANYONE can be appointed as some kind of POA, including attys. I really don't think any atty would agree to be a POA if it meant taking that person into their home and caring for them!

It also doesn't make you 100% responsible for things the person might say or do. Obviously if they are not in a facility, it is up to you to ensure their safety and well-being, but that can mean hiring others to provide the care and to watch over the person.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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There're differences between POA and guardianship. Both require you to be responsible, but not in the sense that you're thinking.

These are mutually exclusive. If you have POA (financial/medical), you don't need guardianship. But if you get guardianship, it overrides POAs, making any POAs null and void.

POAs allow you to make decisions/handle affairs as if you WERE your LO - do what THEY would've done if they were competent. Pay bills, sign documents, interface with medical treatment, etc. Keep good records for how you manage their finances. POAs DON'T give you control over the LO's life, they just give you authority to manage for them when they can't. For instance, POAs are NOT good if you need to move someone to a facility and they refuse.

Also NEITHER mean you must provide the hands-on care, you just manage their affairs.

Guardianship is court ordered and is stronger than a POA. You have to keep good records too, as you'll be required to report to the court when they request it. It also gives you more control over life decisions, such as moving to a facility.

Good records are VERY important in both cases.

If you already have financial/medical POAs, that's enough to manage financial and medical affairs for your LO. These may require certain criteria to be activated. Ours didn't, so I took over as needed (mom also has dementia - making mistakes with accounts, bills, etc.) Fortunately the bank people I dealt with didn't give me any trouble. For having bills sent to me. no POA was needed except for her credit card.

NOTE: SS doesn't honor POAs and so you should sign up for rep payee. Call a local office for appt to apply for this. You have to report to them too, but it's easy, and can be done online. This is THEIR rule for managing someone else's benefits.

If you don't have POAs set up, a good EC atty can determine whether your LO is still capable of signing the documents. IF not, guardianship would be the only other option.

With either, you'd take over their finances, so you don't have to worry about them going to the bank and taking or losing money, blaming you for taking it, etc. With good records, you'd have documentation to prove it isn't true. Clearly you can see her account and can show only $500 was taken. She shouldn't have access to the account because she isn't competent anymore. How does she get to the bank? Hopefully not driving...

If you have concerns about her running off, getting lost, then you need to safety proof the home, so she can't run off. If she's living alone, then perhaps it's time to consider a facility such as Memory Care. If she isn't willing to move, you'd have to consider guardianship. We were able to make something up that got our mother to move.

"If she say these kind of things to family and neighbors, and I'm her Guardian, would I be liable for her claims even with dementia?"
No, as long as you have good records, any questions can be resolved by presenting them to any authority who asks.

"She already had a neighbor convinced I am mistreating her because she want her independence and feels I am stopping her from that, so she makes up stories to anyone who will listen."
Have you talked with the neighbor? Explain she has memory issues and assure them all is okay, it's just her medical condition. If the neighbor is skeptical, invite them over to prove all is okay.

So, to summarize:
*If you have both POAs, you have decision making power to manage her affairs (see SS note
*If you don't have both, you need both or guardianship.
*Keep good records.
*Introduce yourself to the neighbors and talk about your LO. It's likely they see she has issues, but it won't hurt to chat with them. They don't need details, just say she has cognitive issues and you're caring for her, despite what she says!
*Safety proof the home.
*If she might wander, you should consider a facility. There are good (and bad) MC places.
*IF she needs to be moved and refuses, you'll have to get guardianship.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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I do not know about guardianship,. but had POA for my best friend - both medical and financial. It allowed me to gather info when we placed her in a nursing home, allowed me to make medical decisions on her behalf and gave me all the "control" I found necessary to do what needed to be done since neither she nor her husband were able to do it.

We did Power of Attorney through the bank because they have notary republics and where we live it is legal. It was expensive to bring the notary public to the house and nursing home, but well worth the cost.

Keep fastidious notes about everything you do! Especially have long, straight conversations about what your mom wants for end of life care so that when that time comes you are not making decisions on your own - you are doing WHAT SHE WANTS DONE. My friend was my caregiver through 4 cancers, so we had long conversations about what we wanted for end of life, and when the time came I did what she had consistently expressed wanting - but I didn't make a move without first talking to her husband and letting him seem like it was he making those decisions...rather tricky, but it can be done.

The nursing home tried to do an end run around me only once - she was not mentally competent to make financial decisions and I made that clear to them in writing, so they came to me every time after that. It prevented them from doing anything that wasn't in her best interest. I also made all care decisions.

She and I did not always agree on what should happen, and it was very important to me that what SHE wanted was carried out.

I also did this with my grandmother. She and my granny wanted opposite things, and it was up to me to do what they wanted, not what I wanted.

If there are arguing relatives, let them argue - someone has to step up to the plate and do what SHE wants. That is where the conversation and keeping notes comes in. As long as you do what she wants, no matter what it is, you can rest your head peacefully on the pillow at night and know you did your best in spite of potentially nasty relatives!!
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Reply to anrean
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If u are made guardian you will have complete control of her money.
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Reply to XenaJada
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disgustedtoo Sep 6, 2020
If you are made Conservator you have control of the ward's finances. Guardianship is for control over the ward, excluding finances.
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Please contact the lawyer who handled the POA, or any local estate lawyer, and ask these questions because the answer could be very much dependent on where you live and your specific circumstances.
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Reply to MammaDrama
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Is someone telling you that you need guardianship? If you have POA for medical and financial it may not be necessary.

In very simple terms POA gives you the right to act on behalf of the person. If you are Guardianship/ Conservator you ARE in effect this person. Guardianship gives you the ability to handle all medical and care decisions including placing someone in a facility. Conservatorship gives you the ability to handle all finances, accounts, real estate etc on behalf of the person.

POA is granted voluntarily by a competent person to allow another person to handle their affairs. Depending on the language if the POA your power to act can be very broad or limited.

Guardianship/Conservator is ordered by the court. The court has now deemed the person incompetent to care for themselves or manage finances. You’ll be required to issue care and finance reports to the court periodically.

I had POA for both parents and it served me well but I had a couple crappy banks that would not accept the POA and I ran into trouble trying to sell the house and land.

So I applied and was awarded Guardianship/Conservator. It took about 4 months and cost $4 K in legal fees and this was a simple uncontested case. At this point my parents were in care and both had dementia and weren’t even aware of the proceedings.

With Guardianship/Conservator status there are no questions asked. The banks, county clerks etc. must cooperate.
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Reply to Windyridge
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Babs75 Sep 5, 2020
I have only had one time where my guardianship didnt work. I wanted to get a p.o. box at the UPS Store when I was changing dads mail to come to me so it wouldn't get mixed up with mine. They would not let me do it without him being there (not possible). I had copies of my paperwork and they still wouldn't let me.
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Is there anyone else you can be Co-guardian &/or Co-Conservator with?
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Reply to LCPELC
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To answer your question, I had POA plus medical, but I had no power to stop her from going to the bank and pulling more money. It will depend on bank rules and access to other assets. The guardianship , once declared should also trump her assigning another POA. What she signed over POA to her neighbor?
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Reply to MACinCT
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I totally agree, and I don't believe right now it is necessary. But good to know for future if or when decision have to be made.
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Reply to ELHouston
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As far as I know the only reason to go the guardian route is in order to get someone formally declared incompetent in order to force them into care, the vast majority of people caring for their elders don't find it necessary. "If" the POAs alone can't get the job done and guardianship is necessary someone has to be appointed, if you or anyone else in the family refuse then someone will be appointed by the court, and that person or agency may or may not take the opinions, concerns or needs of the family or the ward into account.
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Reply to cwillie
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Bear in mind, as MACinCT says below, that should the court appoint a guardian, they will charge for ALL the time they spend managing the guardianship. I get paid a small amount based on the rules here in my state but nothing NEAR what a private guardian would charge. Yes, they will have the power to sell the house and all of the assets without any say-so from the family.
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ELHouston Sep 5, 2020
Even if I already have durable POA? Can another family member become the medical POA and me financial without having to go to court?
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A guardian gets to decide for the person. Conservatorship may also be appointed depending on state probate rules.
If no one wants it and APS gets involved. Then the court appoints someone. That person will draw payments for their time from her accounts if she has funds. That person may decide she needs long term care. If you are living with her and helping the appointed guardian can overrule your help. That person will then start selling off her assets. When it gets to the house and you are living there, you will be evicted.

You have to decide when she needs full help. If she is not willing to give up and add you to her account, then she can do what she wants. That includes talking to neighbors that you are a bad person. Once the neighbors call APS, you will have to provide proof and the craziness can just get worse.
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Reply to MACinCT
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ELHouston Sep 5, 2020
MACinCT, I established durable POA and have access to her finances. However, her doctor mentioned being her medical POA now that she was diagnose with severe dementia/alzheimers. When I called the attorney, he gave a slew of documents including guardianship I will need for court. Since I have durable POA do I need to be guardian also? Not sure if I can take on this responsibility or give to someone else as medical POA.
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Ah, yes, I know all about this. Back in early 2018, APS had to get involved. My dad was no longer able to make good decisions for himself and they told me to get guardianship and conservatorship which I did in August of 2018. My dad fought the guardianship but we agreed to let him keep his own checking account and stay in his house (his dementia wasn't very bad at that point). He also got all of his own mail which included the darn pension check. To take it all away from him would have caused WWIII so I went along with it. I really wanted him to move and finally in September of 2019, after a hospitalization, I told the hospital (he became dehydrated, got very violent, and they had to restrain him. Hence the reason I have always treaded carefully with him) he was not to be allowed to go home so he was moved to assisted living, but he still retained control of the most important things in his life: His car and his pension check. He did not drive anymore but we hired private caregivers who drove him around. But he hated the fact that his mail came to me and I took most of the financial control away from him.

YOU WILL DO BATTLE. Let me tell you, I know all about this. There has been many, MANY a day I wish I hadn't taken this on. Many, many bad feelings between my dad and I because he totally resents the control I have. I have 3 other siblings WHO DO NOTHING, that he treats great. They have been able to continue on with their lives waiting for their inheritance. I get all the crap from him. You WILL be on-call pretty much 24/7. I never left my cell phone on at night until I became guardian. You will be required to make ALL medical decisions. We, luckily, have the financial means to hire a care manager to help manage appointments but if I want to leave town, she has to know as she is the backup when I'm not here. And I have to be available by cell phone all hours anyway. Many late evening trips to the hospital when something happens. And every Saturday, I would take bills for his house (he still owns it) to the AL where I would write checks from his personal checking account and he would sign them. However, I have to say, selfishly, covid is a positive for me. In AL, not being able to be out and about or leave his room most of the time had caused him to become weak. No more Saturday visits so I have my weekend back (I work full time). He has ended up in skilled nursing where he is well taken care of. I finally have full control of the bills, the incoming money, the cars, and we found his hoard of cash during the move out of AL. I haved hired a yard service company for the house and check on it frequently until someday when we sell it. The bookeeping part is easy for me. I am really good on the computer and I have the accounting part down to a science. I am in the process of completing my second annual accounting for the court and if you stay up on the paperwork throughout the year, it is easy.

Just keep in mind: This will control your life. Think long and hard before you commit to this!
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Reply to Babs75
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ELHouston Sep 5, 2020
Babs75, that sounds like lots of work. I also work full time, blessed to work from home, so I came and moved in from a different state. I have established the durable POA already and adding guardianship sound much to take on. I have lots to think about before deciding having full responsibility.
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Usually when Guardianship is taken on the elder is not competent to be alone; they would be in care. Memory care if necessary. They would not have control over their own finances. That would be on YOU. It is difficult work for someone who doesn't know any details of how it is done. I know, as I became Trustee of Trust and Financial POA as well as Medical POA for my bro in a very organized estate while he was living, and as easily settled after his death and it STILL was hard. Everywhere you went someone like the IRS wanted another form or Social Security wanted letters from doctors to may you Representative Payee, and then wanted yearly accountings. Record keeping must be meticulous. The norm is for the elder to be resentful and furious at you most of the time.
You need now to do your research. We can give you our experiences and our history personally, but you need solid infor on what your duties would be and they are way too many to write out here. Don't mean to scare you, but I was 77 when I went into that and I got GOOD at it, but it was hard. Then my poor bro died and I had the Estate to settle.
And yes, you can just do health care and then that's all you have. And you cannot take care of financial, which is one big danger to the elder. If you don't wish to have guardianship perhaps someone more able in the family does? Worth considering. The State can take guardianship and will then appoint a fiduciary for ALL questions, but do know that person is in charge and your wishes will mean ZERO.
Good luck. Start with your favorite Search Engine and do your research.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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ELHouston Sep 5, 2020
Thank you AlvaDeer, I will do more research as you may have confirmed my concerns.
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