Mom with post-seizure trauma and now cancer has no will and no Power of Attorney. How can we pay her bills with her money?

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My mother was placed in hospital suddenly about three weeks ago with having over 200 seizures a day; they induced a medical coma to protect her brain while they tried to find a diagnosis. They finally diagnosed with lung cancer (this type of cancer was giving her something called neoplastic syndrome which was attacking her brain). Anyhow, they have now taken her out of the coma to administer chemotherapy as means to prevent seizures, but it's a mess. She can't remember us, can't remember anything; doctors say she is 'without capacity'. She bites the nurses and so has had to postpne a few chemo treatments so they can sedate her. My brother and I are now trying to be in a position to help her out with keeping her finances up to date, but we don't have Power of Attorney, and my mother did not keep a Will to our knowledge. I have so many questions, but basically, has anyone been through this and can you advise us on what we should do at this point in regards to paying her bills? We can't find her checkbook and even if we could, should we just start writing checks from an account we know nothing about? We've monitored the mail and it seems most of her accounts are electronic and not paper. I should say that doctors are hopeful her memory will return but not for many mohths; so where does this leave her and her outstanding bills? Will they turn off the gas and electric at the house and what if she can't pay her upcoming property tax bill? My brother and I do not have extra money to pay her bills with our own money. any advice much appreciated, thanks so much, Natalie

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Thank you for your great feedback everyone; i've just called my brother and we will pursue the Guardianship status with an Elder Attorney, your advice was really helpful, thanks again!
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I think an emergency guardianship may be what you need but meanwhile you might be able to call the utility companies and leave your phone numbers should there be a problem. Surely you can find files somewhere in her home to find out where she banks. You could try her computer and look at her recent history or take it to someone who has the expertise to help you find things on her computer. Its good she has her bills on auto pay. Call the tax offices and find out when the payments are due and what the fines might be, how long you have, etc
Guardianship is expensive but if mom has savings, you should be able to be reimbursed when you gain access. Keep good records, especially if she may need medicaid. Long term care is very expensive as well. Make sure the attorney you go to is a qualified elder attorney. You might need documents like your birth certificate to show your connection to mom. I'm assuming you have her purse with her drivers license and social security card and insurance information.
This has got to be shocking but once you get started with an attorney who knows the drill, I'm sure they will have ideas on how to help you gain access to her necessary documents.
I'm very sorry that she doesn't recognize you. Hopefully she will regain her memory as she has time to recover. Come back and let us know what you find out and how you are doing.
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You also should consider a conservator filing, not just guardianship. That will give you more leeway with the financial, like banks. They require that. A guardianship is not enough.
When you discuss this with the attorney, ask for full guardianship.
Should your mother, hopefully, regain any cognitive ability to manage her own affairs, she can then petition the court to have the guardianship/conservatorship removed.
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Time for the family to talk to an Elder Law Attorney to see how you can go about representing your Mom without a Power of Attorney. You might have to apply for Guardianship.
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FreqFlyer is right - without a will and no POA in place, and with your Mom being essentially incompetent (unable to care for herself and not mentally sound due to her advancing illnesses), your only option may be to petition the court for guardianship so you can handle her affairs. Better to do it sooner, rather than later.
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Also, consider a trust while you're at it....that will insure nothing goes through probate.
Just ask your elder lawyer about it, and see what he advises for your state.

All the best to you and your family!
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I was fortunate to have seen the signs of alzheimers in my wife and did all the paperwork needed. God will provide always as we pray and trust in Him for direction. The right people and places will surface. : ))
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No one is on her bank acct? If you r you can write checks. I know a lot of people that once the bill is paid they throw it out. I think its important that you get a lawyer. His fees can also be taken from Moms funds. It looks like Mom has a long road to go. She may need longterm care that Medicare does not pay for. You need guardianship to handle Moms and make decisions she can't. How old is she? Sounds like not too old to do online banking.
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What state are you in? I recently was granted Guardianship for my mother who has Alzheimer's. Mine took 45 days but you can recieve an emergency one much quicker. It covers both medical & financial issues. It cost around $3500.00 but the court allows for the funds to be paid out of my mothers account once granted.
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Just wanted to give you all a quick update ; we are in process of applying for guardianship. Mom is still in hospital receiving chemo. They plan to move her to another facility once her memory and brain capacity improves. This is hard! Im so glad to have found this forum of support :)
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