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When my grandma first started showing signs of dementia the neighbors and staff of the retirement community she lived in started contacting my mom to get my grandma some help. My mom, who is on medical disability for bipolar disorder, would consistently divert these calls to me and my adult sisters as she was/is mentally/emotionally incapable of dealing with it. It even got to the point where some of my grandma's doctors and community members were threatening to contact APS as our mom would neglect to take care of things or let us step in where help was needed. The staff and community members eventually learned to contact us directly. Our mom has a husband who has stepped in to help maybe 10% of the time, but most of the care has been done by us granddaughters. Mom and step-dad have control of grandma's money as this has been the case for a few years now, starting from before the beginning of the dementia.

There is a constant concern if my grandma is getting the care she needs from our mom and step-dad as there seem to be multiple things that get neglectfully procrastinated once put in their hands. Because of this, most of the physical care has been done by me and my sisters.

Now the decision has been made to have grandma live in assisted living care and a POA is being established. Grandma, who is mentally capable of making decisions though is also easily won over by our mom/step-dad, doesn't seem to realize how much of the care only gets done once it is brought to the attention of us grandchildren. It looks like there is a decision being made to have step-dad's name as the primary Agent on the POA with an option to have one of us sisters listed as secondary.

Our question is, if we have witnessed neglectful behavior from them in the past, is there anyway we can overrule the decision to have us as secondary? Also, if our mom and step-dad get divorced, will he still have primary rights as the primary Agent on the POA? This man has also has a history of mental illness and in manic stages has run up thousands of dollars of debt of their own money, so we are also concerned about him having sole control of our grandmother's. Is there anyway to present this information to the POA attorney to prove that he should not be primary? Is the only way to do this to enter a legal battle with our own mom? Any advice would be so helpful!

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I was just thinking that if the person with the POA happens to still live in their own residence and has their own bank account, the new elected POA could actually make their job easier if they're actually handling the person's finances. What I was thinking is online banking could be set up to have bills come out automatically. The POA would have to set up online bill pay from their end and not allow any outside establishment to access that bank account. I have auto bill pay set up for myself because I set it up from my end. As a general rule, I don't usually let anyone outside of my bank touch my bank account. The way I have it set up, my bills will still come out should I become incapacitated. This is what I was thinking the new POA could set up to make their job easier with bills.

Now, the other part of making things even easier it is to only pay at the checkout with a debit card but run it as credit. Running debit cards as credit makes your transaction more secure since you don't give out your pin number. Debit cards are actually the same as a regular credit card and the only difference is that it's prepaid from the funds attached to the checking account. One big red flag to avoid is stores that require you to give out your pin number. We have such a store called Aldie's in my town that only lets you pay by cash or debit. I personally won't shop there because credit is the only way I pay, and I don't carry cash. When I found out about this originally, I warned other customers on the way out because I left everything at the checkout. I hope this sends a strong message for that store and others like it to change their ways and allow customers to run their debit card as credit like any other business. Your debit card can also be used at the ATM if you really wanted to carry cash. However, it's much safer not to carry cash and it's so much easier to deal with the check out because all you do is swipe and go. This would actually make the job easier for the next POA who happens to handle someone's finances for them. That way, you don't have to worry about getting someone else's money mixed up with yours, and there's no confusion because there's no hard cash involved since it stays in the bank. When I set up things for myself, I was amazed by how much easier transactions really are. When compared with paying cash, I would choose to pay by credit any day.

Finally, when setting up the person's checking account, you want to speak with the manager who can set up the account in such a way that it cannot be overdrawn at the checkout. If the money's not there, the transaction will not go through, which will also save on overdraft fees.

Another big plus of following all of these tips is by not having cash handy, no one will be quite as easily tempted to steal money. What you can also do is to see if your bank manager can fix it where the card cannot be used to draw out cash from the ATM if your bank has that option. If they do, see if you can set up the card without a pin number. That way, you have no pin to give at the ATM or at the checkout. Not having a pin number if the options available, will direct the person to run the card as credit.

If the person with a POA has a spending problem, you may want to not give them access to the card so that they cannot go online and start shopping. If they do, they'll get a real nice surprise at the checkout because the transaction won't be able to go through.
I have a friend who was POA for his mom, and he handled her money. I don't recall if I ever shared these tips with him, but I do know they had their own way of handling stuff. Any tips that I can share to make someone else's life easier will definitely be a blessing. I hope someone out there can use these tips because they really do work, and they'll definitely come in handy if you're handling someone else's financial affairs.
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I tried the diplomatic approach when it came to POG with my sister. I honestly felt she wouldnt be able to make some of the difficult decisions when required. She stormed out and burst into tears because mum wouldnt hand her car keys over when required (and many other simular instances). She now wont speak to me. Being honest and upfront often doesnt work-particularly if your dear mum has her own mental issues. Deffinately prepare somepeople who care for your nan to provide wittness statements,gather your information and change the POA . If your step dad has squandered money before,chances are it is likely to happen again. Never the less,a stressfull situation for you all. So nice to hear you and your siblings are on the same page though xx
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This is so true. I am the POA for my mother. Since I am a paralegal, this is a simple task for me and I am the only one she can trust not to steal her assets or allow her to be neglected or end up in a nursing home. The home is always the last resort when a human caretaker is willing to learn how to handle a dementia patient.
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One thing to remember is that not everyone is cut out for extra responsibility. If the POA is not doing her job properly, then the best thing to do is to reassign the POA to someone else. In other words, just find another POA. It is a big red flag if the POA in question has neglected their duties before because yes, there's a chance they could do it again by repeating the same mistakes or making new ones. Looking at this as an example, this will explain why there's widespread trust issues among many people because no one wants to be taken advantage of especially where finances and other assets are involved.
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If a lawyer and doctor feel that grandma is competent to decide who she wants to be her DPOA, the best thing to do is convince grandma that you will take better care of her than her bipolar mother. Find out which lawyer is preparing the DPOA. The two of you need to have power over her finances and healthcare decisions as well. You also need a healthcare surrogate form. If the primary caretaker has bipolar disorder and your grandmother's needs are being neglected, you can accuse her of neglect and have her removed as DPOA. If you are prepared to have grandma come live with you and you want to take care of her, fight for the right to do that. I would. Best case scenario is to simply convince grandma to name her grandchildren as both DPOA and HCS. Good luck. Declaring the bipolar woman an incompetent caretaker should be your last resort.
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..stand to see his charges still shivering in November because he had failed to provide them with warm clothes when requested in October (in December he got around to providing one jacket).s
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(sorry - posted too soon)
...where the parent has final say, but the grand-daughters have authority for the day-to-day stuff?
As far as professionals go, I wouldn't let them have CONTROL if there is any way around it. Assistance, yes, control, no. They need to always be "fireable" by the family. Worst mistake I ever made was allowing a friend to be conserved by a professional who had a "great reputation". Turns out the "great reputation" is a result of the ruthless silencing of all opposition (questions about missing assets? Prohibited from visiting your loved one -- legally enforceable by the court. Concerned about the fact that a multi-million-dollar inheritance is being squandered? The speed with which he could spend money with negligible benefit to the conservatee was astonishing. He couldn't wait to sell property for a fraction of it's cost (insider dealing with buddies? hard to tell -- I think he was more about the absolute power trip than the money, all the while his charges are easily identifiable as the ones medicated wearing clothing provided by caregivers who couldn't s
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Hope this is helpful. My Father has dentia. His wife of 6 yrs put him in a nursing home. I took him to an attorney and he signed a new POA for me. His wife had nursing home do a compentancy test. He failed due to a lot of it require drawing skills, which my Dad does not have due to strokes on both sides. Went to an elder laywer for guardianship. Two court appointed laywers were assigned to him(free of charge). Inspite of Dad's demtia, they told the court that he was competent because he knew what he wanted, to come home with me. Won the case and Dad is now home with me. Note to you....Dad could not tell new wife to her face but was able to tell his attorneys
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What a mess! You need an elder-law attorney.
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So, IF the grandaughters are all in agreement, is their a clear leader amongst you who is willing the be the go-to person? It will take a lot of time, but in many families there is the "obvious choice" (ie the daughter who is the accountant, if she is willing, is the obvious choice to handle the money).
It's a bit touchy in that children (ie your Mom) usually feel responsible for parents, and having their kids step around them feels like a slap in the face but maybe there is some way that all of you can present a united front, kindly, and present it as a solution for long-term. Less ideal would be a formal arrangement where they had fin
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DH, contingencies can be added to a DPOA for events such as divorce. That would eliminate the stepfather from being involved at all.

Proxies can also be named with dual authority, as we are, with authority for either to act on his/her own without consent of the other. I acted under this provision for my sister for years, without any challenge or question to my authority by those to whom I presented all the documentation.

The proxies need to be in good standing with each other as well as the maker though, for this to work properly. Feuding siblings aren't candidates for this type of arrangement, although I don't get the sense that this is an issue in this case.
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Once someone is on a POA of any kind unless there is a new one established they will remain the POA regardless of whether they are still married into the family or not. If she is still competent have someone outside the family discuss with her the family options for POA. A social service agency, local Ombudsman, etc. She may not completly understand the ramifications of it all. To be declared incompetent is not as easy as some may think. It may require a Psych exam and court ruling. A family member cannot declare someone unable to make decisions on their own. It takes professional intervention. Do make a move now before she shows signs of being unable to comprehend thae documents. I have sadly had to deny Notary services as a ptient was not able to tell me that they knew what they were signing. I would not wait to take aggressive action as cases like these can go south quickly and the only remaining means of getting intervention would be throught the courts.

Do not let the fmilay members who have documented mental issues be in charge if at all possible. Your mom's health and safety would be in grave danger should something happen to you. If you are both listed on a POA document it can be 2 ways - as joint decision makers or one is primary and the next one steps in when the primary is unable or unwilling to continue.
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Family members insisted my 98 year old mother sign an IRREVOCABLE Power of Attorney agreement or they would put her through court proceedings (VERY expensive!) for THEIR Guardianship of her. They live over a thousand miles away! She was furious, broken-hearted, and disgusted with them. It was cruelly exhausting. I watched her energy being sapped! It was her anger that kept her going!
She HAD been hospitalized due to a reaction from PRESCRIBED medications, but, thankfully, had recovered. The couple pushing for Guardianship are both Attorneys, and they were not about to change their minds as she repeatedly requested them to do- not unless she would sign the above document!
Considering what happened with my mother, and reading others' stories, we need to INSIST on more protective legislation for the vulnerable, and controlling POA's - including limiting charges the POA's are allowed to make (and then have the right to take!). In this case, the POA charged $200./hour every time he CLAIMED to have done some minor thing she was still able to do, and continued to do for herself! Her anger never subsided until she died just short of her 100th birthday - and the POA had drained her of $1000.'s, in addition to the Attorneys and court costs she had been forced to pay for the initial court proceedings. ALL Guardianship legal expenses come out of assets of the one for whom Guardianship is being sought! How about THAT law!?!
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I had ppl question my poa and caregiving. So i called aps myself to make sure i was doing right by my mom. Had affidavit s from med staff just incase someone wanted to make a legal case. I was doing everything right and by the book
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Aps is your best solution. If your not satisfied with results get a lawyer. Affidavits from med staff can help you. Negligence has to be proven. Witnesses in medical field are best
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I'm backing up CountryMouse on this one. The "law" makes certain provisions and requirements, which to the best of my knowledge require certification by a medical professional, who may at most see this individual a few times a year, and presumably makes conclusions through tests as well as personal observation.

Having seen some physicians ask my mother the usual questions, then draw conclusions on that basis, I have little respect for the thoroughness or exhaustiveness of this process. Mom could be confused one moment, pehaps 1% of all of her waking time, but a conclusion had been made and documented. That ignored some of the brilliant insights she displayed at other times.

The family, while perhaps not being as detached, see the loved one on a regular basis. While they may not always view behavior and decisions in the same light as a physician, it seems to me that this poster is articulate, insightful and caring, as well as realistic. Nor do I sense any malevolent or conniving undercurrent in her post that suggest she's not addressing any lack of competency because she's not observant of it.

I might have drawn the same conclusion as FedUp has based on the beginning comments about dementia. However, we don't know how extensive it is or if it has affected decision making, and given the poster's apparent veracity, I'm willing to believe her.


Steph, one option is to create dual authority, with independence to act. Our DPOAs have that provision - for my sister, either my father or I could act, independent of each other. My father's has it, and I included a similar provision when I drafted my own DPOA.

There were also provisions for successors if the proxy(ies) were unable to or unwilling to act.

You might try as a minimum for that dual authority, as well as a provision that one or more of the granddaughters can act if the parents are unable to.

CM and Castle offer good suggestions on how to tactfully approach this issue.

You can also raise the concern of divorce with your attorney, who can add a provision that the step-father relinquishes and is relieved of all FUTURE obligations in the event of a divorce, being careful not to relieve him of any liability for actions up until the time of the divorce.

I would also ask that even that time frame be narrowed down, such as to the event of filing a divorce complaint rather than entry of the judgment of divorce itself.

It might be advisable to write a letter to the attorney, addressing all your concerns about the stepfather's unsuitableness. You and your sisters may also ask for a private meeting prior to the one at which the terms and conditions are established, prior to preparation of the DPOA. I would prefer the latter, as the attorney will be able to meet the daughters in person and make a personal judgment that could allow him or her to make suggestions to your grandmother.

The attorney can easily make that recommendation, that there should be back-up provisions that include the granddaughters, either now as alternate proxies, or in the future based on the possibility of divorce or decline of your mother's ability to handle the issues.

I also would list those issues and events specifically and provide them in writing to the attorney for his/her files. Attorneys are well experienced in providing backup, alternate and successor provisions (in my experience).

I would also suggest that with the granddaughters in the picture, there's no need to hire a professional proxy and pay for the service when it appears there are granddaughters who are qualified.

No offense to the professionals who feel that this should be done by a hired proxy, but the funds can be better spent for the grandmother's care if the control remains within the family.

And after seeing abuses by guardians, I'm adamantly opposed to bringing in paid, indifferent, outsiders to do what could be done if a family has qualified members.
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Countrymouse - I understand that. But what the law says and what family members say are two different things. My mom was still able to make decisions about her life at that point. The law said she could not make the decision. That's why I said she should speak with an eldercare attorney about this.
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Fedup, the OP states in her post that her grandmother is mentally capable of making decisions, so I assume the relevant assessments have been done.
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If your grandmother has dementia, no matter how early, she most likely will not be able to grant power of attorney to anyone. The eldercare layer we spoke with said because my Mom already had dementia, I could not become her medical POA. My brother had already had POA for several years before Mom showed signs. My step Dad( and she ) decided that together. You really do need to speak with an eldercare attorney about this situation.
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If your grandmother has dementia, no matter how early, she most likely will not be able to grant power of attorney to anyone. The eldercare layer we spoke with said because my Mom already had dementia, I could not become her medical POA. My brother had already had POA for several years before Mom showed signs. My step Dad( and she ) decided that together. You really do need to speak with an eldercare attorney about this situation.
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I hope I won't be sorry I asked, but what is your relationship like with your mother and step-father at this point?

Because if it isn't hopeless, an additional line I'd try is to explain to your mother that she and stepfather aren't under any obligation to accept power of attorney, or the workload and stress it involves. It may be - may it? - that your mother wrongly thinks that this is something she has to do for her mother. The fact that she has done the job very badly to date, and the fact that neither she nor your stepfather is reliably competent to continue it, may in her mind not excuse her from "having" to do it. But if so, she's misunderstood and perhaps you'll be able to set her mind at rest.

But I agree that the key point is to help your grandmother think in practical terms about her new POA, and I'd also enlist the ALF's management for back up assuming she thinks well of them.
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I would enlist the help of an Elder Law Attorney, even for an hour, to ask for their advice. It would be money well worth spending. Worse case scenario, you could apply for Guardianship (protects the person) and Conservatorship (manages their finances) through the county court system. There, you can lay out all the facts about why you (and other grandkids) would be the best fit for Grandma, and why your mom / step dad wouldn't.

This should be the last resort, though, as it can be lengthy and costly. In the meantime, talking with Grandma, as others have suggested, would be good. Not sure what her long term memory is like to retain that information and the decision that she makes. Best of luck to you!
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Good idea to look at the professional companies, and ask also, maybe more than one POA? You can tell your mom you don't want to underestimate her but that you feel you have been doing a lot of the emergency work when it was needed, and tell her your concerns, maybe even that during her episodes, you helped out - and that she and husband are aging also, so you want to be on the list of people seen as POA. Prepare a list some of the things that were delayed and procrastinated on, and try to have conversations about these with people in aging care - in other words, get your worries on paper for the purpose of being clear to others, not disrespectful - but offer your services each time as POA.

It's so easy for old customs to be followed in these situations, just because everyone has not considered alternatives and is afraid of insulting or upsetting someone - and I know exactly what it is to do all the work, while managers think they were "over-seeing" but they in fact, just had the title of manager and maybe oversaw on small thing, while I as the child with the responsibility but not the respect, did all the care planning work (for my disabled brother - older brother still manages the money from a distance). The arrangements did not change when I spoke up repeatedly, but the awareness did, mine as well as theirs. I get a monthly stipend now - and send reports of my work - without pressure, but it really helps actually, to get lots of this stuff written down and addressed deliberately and openly, rather than just left to custom - which can easily result in the children or those who see more closely, doing all the work, on top of the frustration of none of their effort being respected.

So I recommend taking notes, being prepared to understand costs - it's a big job - might also be good to have a company do it - but even then, someone often has to call them - but if it is openly challenged, the conversations with multiple parties, can be very helpful. There is an Elder Mediation Company in Lexington MA, who wrote a book on sibling differences, but they do mediations with families - but getting in a mediator is another option. I wouldn't want to insult your mom or her husband, but being honest about what is needed and what parts each can do, and working for the best solution for the long run, is really a helpful process to go through a family.
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Your best bet is to convince Gramma not to make that assignment in the first place. It is up to her. (Guardianship is supervised by court, but POA is decided by the individual.)

Do you think there is any chance that you could change her mind? Try to do it without making accusations, as that might alienate her. Perhaps approach it from the standpoint of your Mom's mental health. It isn't really fair to place this responsibility in her household.
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