My mom has advanced dementia and no POA. Is my only option to go to court and apply for guardianship?

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I live with her and my 83-year-old father. My concern is that I have no legal right to make decisions - financial and health -- for her. Since I live with them both, work full-time and pay a caregiver out of pocket it is a concern as I keep getting asked about POA. Since a POA requires competency, is my only option to go to court (very expensive) and apply for guardianship?

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I had to go the guardianship route for my mom, who also had very advanced dementia and no POA. I live in Florida, and the Elder care attorney who arranged court-appointed guardianship for us was able to get most of the court fees waived because she was very low income. But of course I still had to pay the attorney his fees, which were to the tune of ~$1600. So yeah, I hear you. . .it's awfully expensive for something that basically comes down to everyone getting a few papers signed. But my mom's dementia was so advanced that there was no way an ethical notary would notarize her POA. I use the word "ethical" because one staff member in her nursing home did tell me that if I looked around long enough I could probably find a notary public who would be willing to just sign off on a POA. It sounds like you are doing the right thing with getting it taken care of now for your dad. Kudos to you for that. I sure wish we had done that for my mom before things got to crisis mode.
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Why are u all attacking her about paying out of pocket for a ccaregive? Maybe Mom and Dad don't have the money if just living off of SS. My Mom's income just covered her bills and food. If she was trying to live on it now she wouldn,t be able to. Medicaid is going to have cuts so it may be hard to get help there.
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Are YOU paying for her care out of YOUR pocket? You shouldn't be doing that. Your parents should be paying for that.

Do you have POA for dad?
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Henderson, back to your initial question....how advanced is mom's dementia? If she can pass muster in an eldercare lawyers office and understand the basic concept of assigning you the right to act on her behalf, you can get POA. Has she already been declared incompetent by her Doctors?

I guess it's really a question for a lawyer; you should certainly get poa for dad. If their funds are held jointly, then dad could issue payment for her care, I believe.
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Thanks Barb for the response. My Dad is helping out with cost, although we share out of pocket expense for a caregiver. My mom is totally disabled and not competent to sign anything. Her doctors would agree that she is not competent as her dementia is too advanced. My dad has agreed to for us to go to a lawyer and get a durable power of attorney for him. So I guess I'll start there and talk to the lawyer about what can be done for my mom - especially since my dad is 83 and could pass before my mom. Again thank you for the response.
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Come on people, in a PERFECT world, your parents could/would pay for all their needs. This is NOT a perfect world! You guys need to lighten up on Henderson. A kid has to do what they have to do for the comfort and care of their parent.

I'm one of those kids. I'm 60 years old. I SHOULD be winding down on working, right? Mom has just enough money not to qualify for any government benefits. Her memory care facility just raised the rent again and now she can't afford to live there. After being there for 2 years, she's comfortable with the caregivers. I really don't want to change her situation, so, instead of keeping my 3 day a week job, I got a full time job. I'll be paying part of her rent, toiletries, diapers and clothing. It's what I need to do.

What are the other options? I would have to show the feds that she had spent her money (probably not too hard to do) but, if they're paying for it, they would take her out of the place she's in and put her in a double room at another facility. She is a very private person and lived alone for 30 years. She also did not have any "girlfriends" as an adult. It would NOT work well to force her to cohabitate with another woman in the same room. So, I'm willing to work more so she can live out her last months or years the way she would want to (having a private room in a small facility). Am I stupid? Maybe, but I can live with my decision.

As her husband, wouldn't your dad be her POA/spokesperson? If you were his POA, and he could no longer function as her decision maker, then, I would think you could make decisions for him to help her. However, best to get it in writing from an elder law attorney. Check the senior centers. They often have referrals to no-cost elder attorneys. We got one for a small donation ($20.)
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What ever you do do it now. My dad died unexpectedly and mom's dementia made her unwilling to sign POA. We are doing Guardianship and Conservatorship. You need both because Guardianship only covers health and living. The other covers finances. The lawyer can state that you will pay yourself back for fees out of mom and dads money in the future. 
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Henderson - I am assuming that your father is either ill enough, or you don't believe he will be able to make decisions for her, since you also have to pay a caregiver. I would prepare the power of attorney forms and you will probably need different for durable POA versus medical POA, go have multiple copies ready for her signature, and take Mom to notary that works part-time in some parcel or shipping company that provides package shipping services. Her signature doesn't have to be much - simply get her to do the best she can on the line. Your only challenge will be if your state (as many do) need 2 witnesses. See if you can find a place with another clerk who will be the other witness at such a place. They won't do it, move on and find one that does. Get Mom to sign it the best you can and move on. If you have siblings who don't like and want to take you to court, let them pay the lawyer fees and they can take care of Mom too. If your Dad was able to do this, then you wouldn't need to be there.

Let me just say this about the comments on "ethical notaries" and our massive life and death struggle to help our parents. One word: TOUGH. Tough for us, tough for them, tough for the world. It is very nice to believe we have these ideal circumstances, but I believe you will find a sympathetic notary who gets it, and understand the extremely difficult position you are in, will notarize it, and MOVE ON. The people giving you a hard time on this know better.

Then after you have this in place, and you are able to fully help your Mom, then try to get the same POA for your Dad. Don't wait if you can.
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Why are you paying out-of-pocket for her caregiver when she should be paying for it? This is not your responsibility, she is the one responsible for paying for her own care. Anytime you have dementia or Alzheimer's you need more than just a POA, you definitely need a guardian since these particular diseases will definitely worsen. Yes, go for guardianship but don't abuse your powers
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You should not be using your own money to take care of your parents.
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