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Twenty years ago, my parents separated but never divorced. Back then, my father appointed me POA to his bank accounts. He is now terminally ill and my mother has said that after he passes, I am to withdraw all of the money and give it to her. She said she will use it to pay the bills. Should I ask my father right now if this is okay, before he becomes incapacitated? I don't know what to do. My mother and I are very close, but she is a very private person. I don't know much about her personal life since she left my father.

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What does his will say?
I would think if he wants her to have his money he will have made that provision in his will.

By the way - your POA authority ends upon your fathers passing - at which time the Executor of the estate takes over. If there is no will a court of law must name an executor.
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I wouldn't normally suggest that someone raise these kinds of end of life issues, but it might be necessary in this situation. You don't mention a will - has he executed one?

If you're not aware of your mother's life since she and your father separated, I'd be really leary of withdrawing anything and giving it to her. She wouldn't be aware of what credit obligations or assets he might have, and literally wouldn't be "up to speed" on handling his estate.

If he never made a will and is still cognizant enough to do so, try to find an elder law attorney who will come to wheverever he's staying and draft a quick short and sweet Will for him to execute. Otherwise, his assets will be subject to state intestacy laws, and as the wife she just might get everything. However, the fact that they've separated but not divorced may just complicate the matter enough to require an attorney to handle his estate.
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Like said. Upon Dads death POA stops. At that time, if there is no will, you or Mom will need to be made Administrator of his estate. Here in NJ there is also an affidavit for an estate under $20K. The state will be involved if no will.
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I believe my father has a will, but I do not know the details of it. We have agreed that my brother is getting his house, a boat that doesn't run, and his truck. (all are paid off). My mother says she will sell his RV to pay Nursing Home/Medical bills. This is what she says, but I'm not sure if the Will is worded differently. I'm guessing he is leaving her as Executor is his estate since they have been civil with eachother all these years. She cared for him after his stroke. My mother has a home and says she is leaving it to my sister and I. But again, this is just her words.
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Wait, Mom is executor of is will?

Your POA authority ends at his death. Do they both understand that?
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You all can agree amongst yourselves to whatever you want but it is all just a fantasy unless it is written in the Will. Your father's written last wishes are not just a suggestion, it is a legal document and it MUST be followed.


(Edit) And to answer your original question -No,  I can't comprehend why you would ever consider that to be OK.
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@cwillie...I don't understand what you meant by "No, I can't comprehend why you would ever consider this to be OK." Do you mean not okay about me questioning him right now, or not okay, that I would give my Mom the money.? Even though thats out of the question now.
And yes, I know a Will will override any verbal discussions, I'm just not sure about my Dad's will. I'm wondering if he drew one up before his massive stroke, since he was only 65 at that the time or if he just never got around to it. Since my Mother is not very open about things like this, I haven't asked her. I wanted to ask him when I have a moment alone with him.
Thank you for all the advise and input.
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I meant giving your mom the money. They are divorced/separated and you aren't even certain she will be the executor when the time comes. Unless she has been doing his business all along - and really not even then - I can't see any good reason to jump ahead of things, it is better to wait until the facts are known. It might be wise to find out where his Will is though, and who the lawyer was who drew it up since they may have a copy on file.
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I wanted to add this based on your comments regarding who gets what per discussions.

Wrapping up a persons estate is more complex than handing over keys to a house or selling an RV. For example - the title and ownership papers to that RV. The person buying the RV is going to want the “pink slip” upon sale. The entity that holds those - even if it is just title and registration - will not release these documents to anyone other than your father (assuming he was the sole owner) without proof that the person asking for them has the legal authority to do so, i.e. the executor of the estate. As well, typically the executor must present proof that they are legally acting in this position as approved by a probate judge. In my state this proof comes in the form of Letters of Testamentary.

Banks, investments. real estate agents etc will all ask for this proof as well. So before anyone starts making plans of buying, selling and/or moving - you need to find out about the will and who the executor is. Once your father has passed - at that time the executor files the will with a probate court and their
position as executor must then be approved by a probate judge. It’s only then that the executor has authority - and the responsibility to follow the will exactly as written. And trust me - there are several steps along the way where a probate judge will be ensuring your fathers wishes as expressed in his will are being followed.
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First of all, I would like to sincerely thank everyone for their input. I have learned so much!
I found out lastnight that my Dad never got around to doing a will. My mother would never divorce my Dad. I think now we are figuring out why. So they've been seperated for 25 yrs. but for the past 8 yrs she has been handling all of his bills. He signs his checks and she pays the bills. I think my Mom preferred he didn't have a will, she mentioned to me that when he passes, "She is still alive and all of his stuff is hers because they are married." I think the house remained in both of their names, my Mom bought another house when they separated but did not put him on the deed. The boat, RV and truck are only in my dad's name.
My mother mentioned she would need to work on paperwork these next few weeks, I'm not sure what she meant, but I know it's not a Will. :(
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FaveDaughter, I'm dismayed but not really surprised by your just updated post. This woman is smart, and cagey. I'll bet she consulted an attorney before deciding not to get divorced.

What you need to do is check intestacy laws for the state in which your father is residing. My guess is that the wife gets everything, regardless of what your father may have said to anyone. The question of separation for years might be an issue though.

I'd like to know though how she's able to handle his bills if you're designated as proxy under a POA. There must be a joint checking account, to which she has access w/o needing an proxy authority.

This begs the question: what else has she been "handling", and to which other documents does she have access?

My suggestion is literally don't walk, RUN, and begin researching to find an elder law attorney with whom you're comfortable and find out exactly who will inherit under intestacy laws of your father's state, and what else you can do to prevent her from getting all the funds once he passes.


W/o reviewing all the posts, I'm surprised that she has access to his funds and is paying his bills. So she can claim that in a way she was helping him during his last years of life.
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Also, raise the issue of a quick and simple Will if your father is alert enough to sign and understand what he's doing (and if he's willing - there may be agreements they've made of which you're unaware).

Wills can be done very quickly. One of the attorneys for whom I worked did one in a day for a woman who was dying of cancer. They met, we drafted the documents as soon as she returned from the woman's home, the dox were signed the next day, and the woman died later that afternoon.

When my sister suddenly went into respiratory failure from cancer, my attorney and I discussed what my sister wanted and she came to the hospital where the document execution took place. This happened in just a few days.
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I'd like to know though how she's able to handle his bills if you're designated as proxy under a POA. There must be a joint checking account, to which she has access w/o needing an proxy authority.

My Mom said it hasn't been easy. There's no joint accounts. The other day he had to have his AC unit replaced so they needed a Cashier's check. The bank wouldn't let her have access to his account, so my Dad had to call the bank and authorize a check. He gave them the amount.
He can sign checks, so she would tell him, your phone bill is $90, your light bill is...etc and he would presign checks, she would fill them out and send.
I found it odd how she has told my sister and I, "you know, we didn't have a good marriage, but I always cared for your dad. Maybe he didn't trust me, but I have actually saved him alot of money over the years. I've never abused his debit card."
My sis and I were puzzled by this statement, but now agree that it was a "savings for her" so when he passed, she would have stored up his $.

I will be searching for advice from an attorney soon.
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Oh what a mess. If your mom is certain she has all the power, why ask you to go withdraw all the money and turn it over to her?

No way, if you did that, she could say she never got it or you could get busted because your POA ends up on death.

If your dad is able, have him do a will. I think the paperwork your mom was referring to was probably making sure everything was in her name before he passes.

I'm sorry you and your siblings are having to deal with greed at this time of loss. One good thing, she gets all the liabilities as well as the assets. Can't have it any other way, if she's his wife and wants everything. Be careful what you wish for.
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Your mother may not have urged your father to make a will because there was an understanding between them.

That was rather silly of her.

I think you might need to be careful. Why did your father give you power of attorney if your mother had been carrying out that role for the last eight years?

This isn't a matter of not trusting your mother. It's a matter of your responsibility as your father's POA.That paperwork, those bills - these are your job, and not hers. Bluntly, she has no business "working on" them.

It doesn't sound to me as though you're going to find it easy to tell her to butt out. Am I right?
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With your parents still being married and your father not having a will the settling of the estate becomes both easier and more complicated.

In the case of no will, most states- if not all - have laws that automatically determine how much - what percentage- of the estate a surviving spouse receives. Throw in the fact that your mother has been involved in your fathers life for the past eight years and you’d have a tough fight on your hands to try to prove that your mother should not inherit.

States also having generally have a
number of laws regarding how an estate should be despersed when there is no will - spouse or no spouse. This is especially rough as it typically means the state is going to take a big chunk of the estate for themselves.

If your our father is still mentally competent and is physically up to it - it would be a good idea to have him make a will. It seems especially cold to bring this up with your father at this difficult time - but it’s really the only way to ensure who gets what and the best way to keep the states mitts off your fathers estate.

I wish you luck - as well as my sympathy - this has to be a difficult time as it is with the imminent loss of your father. The settling of a loved ones estate often seems to bring out the worst in people.
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**I think you might need to be careful. Why did your father give you power of attorney if your mother had been carrying out that role for the last eight years?**

He gave me POA 20 yrs ago when they 1st seperated. It was a bitter breakup from a toxic marriage. He told me, "in the event that something happens to me, the $$ is here and here and you are my POA". Then it was never discussed again.
Then 8 yrs ago, he had a massive stroke. My Mom would take care of him and his affairs (dr's visits, home care, etc) So she handles everything since they are married.
I was only appointed POA of his bank accounts so in case something happened to him back then.

**It doesn't sound to me as though you're going to find it easy to tell her to butt out. Am I right?**

Exactly!! My Mother is very manipulative. She knows how to word things to make it seem very caring, but we know her. We know that after my dad passes, it will be "pay back" time for their toxic marriage.
As siblings, we really just want my dad at peace. I don't want him to suffer or be afraid to go.
On the other hand, I do not want my mother taking advantage of him.

**I wish you luck - as well as my sympathy - this has to be a difficult time as it is with the imminent loss of your father. The settling of a loved ones estate often seems to bring out the worst in people.**

Thank you, the past few weeks have been very difficult.
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I'd be less concerned about the inheritance and more concerned about the here and now. The OP's responsibilities cease on her father's death, but up until that point the buck stops with her when it comes to the correct management of her father's money - and she has no idea what's been going on.

I don't care how "private" the mother's personality is - she can't choose to be "private" about what she's doing with somebody else's money without the formal authorisation that he gave to their daughter. FD, I'm sure this is going to be hard for you but remember that your Dad put you in charge. So, with all necessary kindness and respect to your mother, you need to take charge.
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I am in Texas if this helps anyone.....

I've decided to visit my Dad on Friday, I went to visit him last night, but other relatives were there. But on Friday I'm going to ask him, "Dad is there anything you want me to take care of? Do you remember that you do not have a Will? Is there anything we need to do in the event that you pass?" He knows he's terminally ill, but I don't want to seem "cold" about it. I'm actually very sad and torn up, but he had told me to "be strong", that he has to go someday and he's had a good life.
On Friday, he should be alone, meaning my Mother, hopefully will not be there. 
I would also like him to add us to his HIPPA paperwork because she doesn't talk to the doctors when we are there. She talks to them privately. 
She said his Urologist told her, "His illness does not involve his children. This is between you and him."  She says he told her this when she was crying and said she wasn't sure we would approve of his care. But what he doesn't know is they've been separated for over 20 yrs.
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FD

Are you your dad’s Medical AND Financial POA or just Financial?
If you are medical you should present the urologist with a copy in order to get his medical information. If not, I agree. Have died sign a HIPPA release.
It will not matter one iota what the truth of your parents relationship is when dad is gone or incapacitated. What matters is what is on paper or not on paper. The POA for now. The will after he is gone. If there is no will, everything will go to his heirs as outlined by the laws of the State of Texas. If he has a POD on his bank accounts, then the money in those accounts will transfer to the POD named.
Here is a link you need to look at between now and Friday. You might print out a copy for dad. If he is happy with what it says, he doesn’t need to do anything. Although life would be easier for all of you if he had a will.

20 years is a long time to be separated. Did your mom make her own way when that happened? Did she work? Did they divide community property at that time? Has she already shared in his assets? She may legitimately be owed what the state of Texas will give her. But you shouldn’t be her pawn. Also, her request is a bit confusing. She seems to think you have the capability to get the money so she must know something you dont know? Or she thinks she does. I say that because even though you are POA you didn’t get the money for the AC for instance. And does your mom have your dad’s debit card in her possession? The one she hasn’t abused. How do you know she hasn’t abused it? Do you, as his POA, examine his bank statements?

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/intestate-succession-texas.html

Also you might find the book “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande helpful.
It has end of life questions that might bring your dad a measure of peace in his last days.

So dad needs to consider a DNR, a POA for medical and a will. All his bank accounts and insurance policies and savings need to have updated beneficiaries listed. If dad tells you what he wants on these items you can meet with the attorney, have the documents drawn up and then the notary and witnesses can come to dad for signatures. You’ll need two witnesses that are not beneficiaries and over the age of fourteen.

One last thing, it isn’t cold to help your dad put his affairs in order. I’m sure it will bring him peace of mind to have this taken care of.
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*Are you your dad’s Medical AND Financial POA or just Financial? **
I am just his financial POA, she is his medical.
When they seperated, he was retired and she was still working. She made her own way. When he had the stroke, she retired due to dr's appts and care for him. I believe she has his bank card to buy him groceries, pay her gas (since they live 20 miles apart, etc). I have never seen a bank statement and haven't asked. She would be appalled. :/
He does have a DNR, he signed it after the stroke. In fact, on Thursday we thought we were going to lose him. And they confirmed the DNR. But thank God he pulled through his episode.
Thank you for your input. I have a feeling this might get ugly in the end. It's funny that I say that because that was the 1st thing she said when she sat me down, "We don't you all to fight over stuff you can't take with you. (when we die). We want you all to love eachother and take care of eachother. " Then she tells me, "After you Dad dies, I'm giving his truck, the boat and the house to your brother...." He's the only son and youngest (42) My sister and I agree to this, but I'm wondering about life insurance(s), bank accounts, etc. I do know she is planning a trip to Italy in May for a wedding. :/
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I hope he has a will. If she is executor, then she must follow his wishes. If no will, probate will assign an Administrator who will handle what estate there is. This person will have to show the state what assets there are and those assets may have to be liquidated. With no will, depending on the state, the wife gets a % and the surviving children get a %. In NJ its 75/25 with wife getting 75% and surviving children get 25% to share. Dad gave u financial POA for a reason. You trump Mom if he cannot make decisions. Insurance policies go to the beneficiaries. Bank accounts if only Dads name are part of his estate. Joint, I think the other person gets them. You may want to talk to Dad when Moms not around and ask if there is a will in place and where it is. This way Mom can't say there is no will.
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JoAnn29: As far we as we know, he does not have a will. But I will ask him the moment I get some alone time with him. Now, my mother says she does have a will. In fact, twice she has made this comment: "As far as me leaving my stuff, I am going to remember the people that did for me. Like took me to my dr's appts, took care of me, took me where I needed to be, etc." I took this as a very manipulative statement, like "take care of me now, or be left with nothing." Unfortunately, my sister is legally blind and can't drive. So is she out of the game???
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Don't you think she was explaining why she's entitled to his estate? Because she took him to his doctor appointments, took care of him, etc.?
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"We agreed that brother is getting the house etc". This kind of verbal agreement has no force once someone I dead. When they are dead the provisions of the will take over. If there is no will then the will the state imposes is applied. Please, please get this will business straightened out with him immediately! By the way, if you were to give your mom money from your dad's account after he dies, you would be be breaking the law (theft) . The minute someone is dead, no one can do anything with assets until the court appoints an executor/estate representative. Please get your legal ducks in order.
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I just read some more things favedughter said about this situation. Oh yes it will be very ugly! To avoid this, find the ORIGINAL signed copy of the will not a photocopy and secure it. Somebody in this family may get ahold of the will or has ahold of it. That person may destroy it if it is to their advantage. Take it to a lawyer now to make it secure. If there is no will, get one asap. When things are in writing there is less ugly.
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Favedaughter,
I'm so sorry for your dad's terminal state. Also, that you have to go through this cr*p with your mother.

It sounds like she's kniving and secretive. You, as the financial POA have the legal RIGHT to make her show you what she is doing with his funds. So......DO IT. Make her show you what she's done and GET THE DEBIT CARD BACK. Legally you can demand it.

Since your control of his money ends on the day he passes, you will have no say what happens to the $ after that.

Is there ANY way you can get an elder law attorney up to your dad's hospital room to draft a will? Or if he could at least write out his wishes (I know he had a stroke and may not be able to write.)

After all this is said and done, if it were me, I'd steer clear of mom. Definitely do not ever take her into your home to live with you.

Again, I'm sorry. God bless your dad as he ends his time here and goes on to the next realm.
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Just FYI for those discussing the issue of a will, FaveDaughter posted this 12 hours ago:

"I found out lastnight that my Dad never got around to doing a will. "
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FaveDaughter, WHY is your father's medical team unaware that your parents have been separated for twenty years? Have you lost the power of speech?

Your father made you responsible for managing his financial affairs. Did he formally give your mother equivalent responsibility for his health care, or is she taking that position by virtue of being his wife only?

When you go to visit him without your mother there, you want at the same time to get somebody in a senior position in the room with you. His lead physician, a social worker, somebody with clout. And you need to nail down what his wishes are when it comes to powers of attorney and health care proxies, directives, all the rest of it.

You have to stop being afraid of your mother. Your mother is not in charge of the money. You are. Either do what that takes, or resign your POA.

At the moment, you feel you can't demand to see your father's bank statements or bills, can't ask your mother to account for what she has been doing for the last eight years. But that's your job. You have accepted responsibility. You are not free to turn a blind eye.

I wonder if it might help if you were to buy an hour's legal advice on where you might go from here. At the very least, get out your POA documentation and re-read it. It will remind you of what you're being asked to do.
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When my mother was imminently failing I asked my brother with whom she lived and who had POA if he was on her back accounts (which is all she had for assets, her having previously sold her home). I told him to get to the bank pronto and using his POA get his name added to her accounts because the POA ends with her passing. He did that about 15 minutes before the bank closed and she passed a few hours later. That allowed him to bypass probate altogether as the money in the accounts was legally his at that point, and he then distributed it to me and our other siblings and the grandkids in accordance with her Will.

Talk to your father about whether he has a Will or not. If not, he either needs to get one or you need to use your POA to get your name on his accounts and any other assets he has. Otherwise, if your parents are not legally divorced it'll all go to her which may not be his wishes.
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