How do I keep Mom financially and medically independent (prevent guardianship)?

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I live with my Mom as a caretaker who has Alzheimer's and Dementia. She does forget some things, but is otherwise of sound mind. My brother is trying to go to court and have her declared as as incompetent and have himself appointed as a guardian to handle her medical and financial, as he state that, since I live with her and don't currently work, I can't be guardian. I have an upcoming appointment with as geriatrics doctor. I have checked the Legal Aid department for my area, but they can't help. How do I go about finding a elder law attorney?

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You had the same question I did, Jeanne. Why does Brother feel that the mother needs a guardian? Is he concerned about the management of her money? Or does he feel that she needs to be placed into memory care?

jbzook, do you think your brother is not suited to be your mother's guardian? If you'll let us know the story behind your brother's action, it may be easier to advise you in the right direction. Pam is right that the court would be reluctant to appoint someone as guardian who is dependent on the person monetarily. There is too much conflict of interest there. However, you would have no trouble if your mother appointed you as POA for financial or healthcare. That would be her decision if she has not been deemed to be legally incompetent.
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The first thing to know is whether your mother is competent in the legal sense. If she has dementia then she is not "of sound mind" but she still may be deemed capable of making her own decisions. The geriatric doctor you are seeing should be able to talk to you about her level of competency.

If it is determined that she is incompetent and someone needs to be her guardian, the judge may appoint the person who is petitioning to be the guardian, or may also appoint an outsider. I wonder if your brother has considered that? Has Brother been seeing a lawyer about this? What do you think his real motive is?
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Here in NY a prospective Guardian has to be fingerprinted, background checked and credit checked. Poor credit alone will bounce you out of the running, and no job=poor credit. The Judge will not appoint an indigent person who is living off the income and assets of the Ward.
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joylee, you may want to start a new thread with your question and possibly get more answers. Your situation does sound terrible.
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We have four children, and 5 grandchildren. My mother had some holdings when she passed away at age 98, three years ago in 2011. My one remaining sibling wanted to sell the small acreage left to the two of us through a warranty deed that gave us ownership when both parents had passed on. We sold it, and of course it produced a nice amount of income. At that time, my husband and I were basically doing okay health wise for our age, so decided to make gifts to our children and grandchildren who needed it worse than we did. Young people have it harder in these days, especially if they do not have a college education becoming doctors or lawyers, or otherwise in some kind of regular higher paying job or have some kind of higher level of income. So we made gifts to them individually to help them out. When it come time to have help ourselves, when my husband become ill and older, and could not work anymore. There was no income. Before that, I even had extra to make a loan to one of our sons, which has paid it back in full, and is now supporting us literally, working very hard at physical labor to do so, while taking care of his life needs. We wish we had had investments that would pay our way with monthly income at this point, but there is none. When applying for social service to see if any help available, they indicated no help. For we had given away money to help our families before a 5 year span of time had elapsed since my mother's passing. They even counted the $10,000.00 loan to my son as assets. Of course we were not able to eat that or clothe ourselves with assets. Now the $10,000.00 has been paid back, but used up paying out of pocket for in home care helpers out of pocket. Even though their time is limited each day, and I hold the main caregiver position caring for him in the home, to my knowledge, they will not give me or my husband any help to continue to live at home. So it has been expressed here and there, that the government prefers to keep people in their home, rather than a rest home, but unless one qualifies for help, there is none, even if you cannot find enough to go on properly, there is no help. I have a very small share in a small acreage, that costs more than it really is worth to me. It is in a living trust. I die, it is gone, my sister takes over my half, then when she is gone, it goes to her kids and my kids for them to use or sell to my knowledge. But since my husband and I are married of course, it is held against me getting any help for my husband's expenses. Our Social Security just does not go far enough to care for everything. Does anyone know if there are other laws, rules or regulations available to help persons like us over this road block for care, so that funding or help could be supplied for my husband to keep him in the home. He is getting good care here, and I know it. He has been in rest home and hospital a few times off and on, and comes home needing added care to over come sore skin problems and you name it. If anyone out there knows of any funding for people in their own home to exchange for rest home services, please let me know. If our dear son goes down trying to care for his needs and ours, what is the next step for people like us. Our son is 59, so it can't be that easy to continue to work so hard to provide for us. Any answers to situations like this? Thanks for listening.
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If you say your mother forgets things occasionally but otherwise is "of sound mind," then it sounds like her dementia is mild and she may well have capacity to sign documents to specify who will make medical and financial decisions for her in the future. Agree that your local Agency on Aging is a good place to start. You can also ask your mom's doctor to help her complete a durable power of attorney for healthcare, and the doctor might be able to refer you for help with a financial power of attorney. (Try googling financial durable power of attorney and see how it's done in your state.)

The process for determining that an older person lacks capacity to make various types of decisions varies from state to state. The American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association teamed up to create guides for psychologists and a guide for lawyers. These are long, detailed, and technical but if you really want to understand the process that health providers and lawyers should be going through, you might want to take a look.
http://www.apa.org/pi/aging/programs/assessment/

Because dementia almost always gets worse, it's important to help your mom plan to have other people make decisions for her. There is just no way to ensure she remains independent and in charge of her decisions, especially if someone like your brother has decided to contest her abilities. (A fair number of older adults remain "in charge of their decisions" for a long time because everyone else is just looking the other way, or agreeing to their decisions.)

Good luck, it's a tough situation to work through.
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terryjack1,
I totally agree. Guardianship is expensive and documentation is a must. Thank you for your incite.
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You can be a guardian even if you don't work or even if you live with her. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging, they will be able to give you info assistance on these issues & are very helpful. What does mom's doctor say about her dementia? If it's mild she can complete a durable power of attorney, living will and advance directives. She can name one person to act as her representative for health care decisions and another person for financial decisions or she can name one person to do both with an alternate person in the event the first named person is unable to fulfill the duty. With the advance directives, her wishes for health care are expressed; this helps the family when the time comes to make difficult decisions. The AAA will have someone that can assist you with this as well. They should have a legal referral program and is your mom qualifies she would have access to an attorney that could help her with her durable power of attorney and even her advance directives. Planning ahead is the name of the game, then when the dementia worsens, most decisions are already taken care of and the family doesn't have to guess the kind of care she would want. Guardianship is expensive and is a last resort.
Keep documentation as mentioned above, keep receipts for all expenses that have been paid; utility bills, food, transportation costs, co-pays etc. Keep a notebook that you can document what you do for mom; took her to doctor, went grocery shopping. Keep another notebook of anything you notice going on with mom, this notebook can go to the doctor with you. You can record if you see changes in mom's memory or if she begins having difficulty doing daily tasks. Any questions you may have for the doctor can be written here so you don't forget them.
The AAA can discuss options that are available in the community for your mom. Good luck
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Have a financial Durable Power of Attorney drawn up by your attorney naming whoever you want as your mothers agent. I just had this done for my mother. Also, I had a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive and HIPPA Privacy authorization form drawn up by my attorney. Hope this helps.
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It costs a lot of money to file for guardianship. Does your brother have that kind of money?
Your mother must be declared incompetent. Is there a possibility? If she is rational at all then there is a very slim chance.
You can be guardian regardless of whether or not you work. To my knowledge the primary caregiver is usually the one who gets guardianship. Who has POA?
Sounds to me as if your brother is just messing with you, but if this is serious then you must get organized and approach this calmly and deliberately.
Keep a record of conversations and events. Get your paperwork in order.
Refer to the legal tab in this website and there are advertisements on the right side of these pages. Alternatives for Seniors is a wonderful publication # 888-533-4636 to get a copy.
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