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Bills are paid automatically, so we don't know where the money ($1000-1500/mo) is going. Mom has dementia, FIL is right behind her, beginning stages. My husband has financial POA but Elder Care attorney says that without going to court for conservatorship, we can't control their spending. How is this going to affect the spend down when she needs Medicaid? She is 91, he is 89. He may be sending cash in mail to various "charities" and for supplements such as "stem cells" which are totally take but we can't convince him to stop.

Sadly, your story is not uncommon, and the Elder Care Attorney is providing accurate advice.

In cases where an elder's finances are minimal and a single bank account can be restricted, it may be possible to manage an elder's decline in capacity with a POA document.

But you are describing a case where the work involved with gaining Probate Conservatorship can save your parents and your family from much greater stress in the future. Conservatorship is the only way you can compel third party financial institutions to comply with restrictions needed to stop the drain of funds to financial predators.

Beyond the tragedy of lost resources that could have been used for care, the end game if Medicaid eligibility becomes necessary involves a severe accounting nightmare. A Medicaid application will require you to explain the transfers of drained funds.

Chaos during the 5 year look back period makes the Medicaid Application preparation 100x more burdensome than if a Conservator starts right now with the tasks of managing and accounting for your parents' life savings.
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Reply to John L. Roberts
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Every time you spend time with your parents, be sure to you “engineer” a conversation about their community.

Keep a stockpile of “openers” in your head - to get Mom & Dad to open up about who they see and who they interact with.

Who bought the Jones’ house at the end of the street? Who do you trust to service your car, now that Bob’s Garage is closed? Is XXX’s niece still a cashier at Walmart? Muse that you see (or don’t see) a lot of families with young kids in your parents’ neighborhood now. Ask your parents who cleans their gutters, who mows their lawn, etc (act like you want a recommendation for someone).

Every time you see Mom & Dad, make sure that some aspect of your conversation spurs them to reveal something about their little world.

If Mom or Dad mentions a “nice single mom” or “fella who’s down on his luck,” pay special attention.
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igloo572 Jan 21, 2020
Fabulous insight.
Really to paraphrase, “it takes a village to keep an elder in their home”. And you just must to try to know to some degree who all are part of your folks village. Especially important if you do not actually live in the same city (or state!). If that means you get onto the Next Door app or you join their neighbor association, you do it; and you actually go with them to their weekly lunch/ dinner/ novena/shabbat when you come in to visit them.
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Is this a durable POA?  I don't understand why DH cannot control money?  We just took checkbook away
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rovana Jan 16, 2020
Good idea, but depending on state of dementia, might be illegal if not declared incompetent and formal guardianship/conservatorship in place.
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Your husband has no right to control his parents' spending (especially not his father's) but he does have a right to insist on being given information about it.

His parents have given him POA. This means that they have trusted him to manage their affairs in the future, when they no longer can. He can explain to his father that without information about their finances, including who is receiving their money, he cannot do the job they have appointed him to do.

His father is more likely to be open with him about where the money's going if your husband doesn't argue with him about his choices.
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kdcm1011 Jan 20, 2020
My husband did this with his parents. Father was on board, but mother wasn’t. Mother was the one who managed their finances and she was hiding things from her husband. What she was hiding was large cash withdrawals for the favored daughter (family Queen) and her daughters and medical co-pays of granddaughters, even though both had full-time jobs and went on week-long vacations every quarter. She would then get behind on bills & go to her sons for money. FIL passed, MIL had less money coming every month, yet still kept it up. Couldn’t stop her, because she still was aware; she just made poor choices. What hubby could do & did was inform his mother he was no longer agreeable to accepting POA responsibilities when the time came & to assign someone else. She wasn’t happy, pouted, ranted, & tried to guilt him. He stood firm (thanks to this forum) & even sent her a notarized letter, signed return receipt. All is in our safe now.
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Your husband can set-up a separate account just for ATM withdrawals. The account should have a very low withdrawal limit - $50 or less. This will prevent your parents from withdrawing amounts above the set limits. Deposit more funds as appropriate. Their bank should be able to help with setting up a new account with debit only or ATM withdrawal privileges.

This option will frustrate them and make them angry, but isn't it better than them being broke???

As their financial POA, your husband must prevent them from squandering their liquid assets. It's also important for their dignity to give them an "allowance".

Losing and misusing money is part of the disease we broadly call dementia. Therefore, limiting the amount of money they can lose or misuse is a way to limit your and your husband's frustrations with their unwise and irrational behavior.
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Have you directly asked them why are they withdrawing money? I am curious what they would tell you.

You mentioned church. Do you think they are donating to the church? Some churches ask for lots of money.
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Your parents spending does not affect their ability to get Medicaid. Your parents GIFTING does. As my (somewhat crass) Medicaid attorney says, "your parents can spend their money on hookers and booze in Las Vegas, they just can't give you money to spend on hookers and booze in Las Vegas." Another example, what would be the difference in your parents buying expensive stem cell supplements, or buying all new (unnecessary) windows for their house? I ask because this was my case -- my mother was talked into several new windows as well as new rain gutters, and having large, old trees removed from the backyard...all to the tune of $25K (!!) It really hasn't affected anything in terms of her eligibility for Medicaid. We had invoices and we had cancelled checks. That's what Medicaid cares about -- being able to trace large sums of money. These examples go to show that your Elder Care attorney is correct -- without a court order, your parents can spend, spend, spend. My advice: Elder Care attorneys are not Medicaid attorneys -- I'd meet with the latter to help you understand the process of becoming Medicaid eligible, if the time should ever come. It's pretty eye-opening.
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disgustedtoo Jan 20, 2020
All this is fine, BUT the problem here is they are not using checks, they are withdrawing large amounts of cash and spending it who-knows-where!

There is NO paper trail for any of this money and THAT can become a problem if Medicaid is needed. There would be NO proof that this money isn't being handed to their children.
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You can't control his spending without conservatorship/guardianship. Just make sure he understands that he will become a ward of the state when he has no funds left.

Folks who are competent can make their own stupid decisions. That does not, however, obligate their children to rescue them from their poor decisions after the fact.

If the current laws permit elders to be taken advantage of financially, I don't see how the government [aka Medicaid] can then deny funding for care just because they've lost money to swindlers.
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janeinspain Jan 20, 2020
This is a real issue you pointed out Barb. In my experience the elder laws are really quite toothless and it takes heroic effort - not to mention massive lawyers fees - to prove financial abuse, coercive control and isolation. APS has no authority unless someone is being physically harmed. The DA won’t act unless referred by the police, and the police say these matters are civil and have to be handled in court. Courts do not act fast and seem generally inclined to avoid interventions so elders remain super vulnerable even as these issues are being worked through. This can definitely compromise their Medicaid eligibility, which appears pretty black and white. Our govt policy is super permissive in allowing conditions that can jeopardize ability to get support when it is most needed. Big conundrum and needs a policy fix.
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You say that bills are being paid automatically...are they in their own home? So bills like utilities, taxes, mortgage (if they have one) insurance, all are on autopay? Rent? Is your husband who has FPOA is paying bills for them, or are they still in charge of their checkbook? Do they have a credit card, and can you see their statement, online perhaps if you can’t find a hard copy? That might tell you something. Do they still drive and get out? What about food or shopping? Do they do that on their own? Lawn maintenance? I’m just trying to figure out where money could be going, without it being an auto paid bill. Or a scam. Could it be that they’re stashing it somewhere in the house? My GF family found staches of money all over the place after her GM passed away, in books and kitchen. If they can’t explain the money, it’s time to take over their checkbook.
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rovana Jan 16, 2020
I know of a case where cash was being taken out and hidden so the government could not get it...Grandpa taken to hospital ER and wads of cash on him.  Security nightmare!
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OMG, G1952 did you say that your folks are buying “silver”?!?!!

please please asap go thru whatever paperwork on these, especially if they are actually getting real bullion or “collectible” coins or “shares on paper”. Really silver as investments tend to be scams. The hook that is used is is “silver paid $50 oz in the past & it’s coming back” nonsense as your parents are old enough to remember the Hunt Brothers & the silver rush that they missed out on....... Yeah in like 1980. And back then I wore a size 4-6 and those days are not, NOT, coming back.

Silver is like maybe $15 and that’s kinda spot price for certified bars (these babies are weight stamped & have some sort of paperwork as to provenance as where mined - like 5 oz. Perth) for quite a while. There is / was a big scam going on with silver, where you buy a collectible silver coin for $100. But coin wasn’t a true rare or precious worth $100 on open market. It actually has a melt value or spot price of $45 -$55. Literally you loose half of your $ immediately.

Theres a whole series on the silver scam just this last Nov & Dec in Quartz by Jeremy Merrill entitled “Mining for Silver”. The scammers prospect & use Facebook and conservative talk radio. Lisa Rowan also has written on this in different financial advice columns for other publications (she has great & often hilarious podcasts too).

really if your folks are getting silver scammed, their info is being sold and they are going to be approached on other even more dubious “investments”. They are gonna get fleeced. Please please try to get over soon to clearly review what exactly it is that they are buying. There are legitimate ways to invest in rare coins & precious metals (1 of the best companies worldwide is in my city) but these are going to be $ 25k, 50k $$$+ coins with provenance. Not $1,000 buys. Not sending cash or money orders in the mail to buy stuff.
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freqflyer Jan 19, 2020
Igloo, I was thinking the same thing regarding silver or gold. Any time I see those ads on TV, I cringe.
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