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My father had a massive stroke in July 2016 and lost his memory. The doctor says is permanent memory loss. He and his elderly wife live with my sister. My father has a joint account with my sister. His SSI and his all his finances my sister controls. She refuses to give his elderly wife a dime. I am paying the wife cell bill to help her out. Yet, I feel bad for the wife because she is afraid of my sister. I have advised her regarding giving the wife her share. I have no idea why my sister is hoarding my father's money. The wife can use money for her personal needs. I have been involved giving advise and helping in any way possible. However, I am stepping back and let them deal with it. My sister has cut communication with me. I have no plans to take legal action. I want to know what is the wife legal right. She speaks broken English. She is vulnerable. She is the one taking care of dad day and night without any compensation. Please, I can use some suggestions. I want to help without being mean and problematic. Thanks for your suggestions.

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Churchmouse, Sometimes, somebody has to ask the right questions. If not you, WHO THEN? When the OP never answers, no need to continue answering, imo.
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I've been taken to task before for asking questions instead of answering them; but Godsbeautiful there's just too much information missing to know what to suggest.

How long have your father and his wife been married?
How did they come to be living with your sister? - were they living independently before the stroke?
Is this expected to be a permanent arrangement, or will they and your sister be making plans to move them to an ALF apartment for example?

July this year is not very long ago, you know. Three months is not very long to adjust to the huge after-effects of a major stroke. You also don't say how old your father is: the doctor's opinion on the memory loss is no doubt well-founded and correct, but that doesn't mean that your father may not recover certain faculties to a certain extent - it all depends on his age, his state of health, how active he was before and all kinds of other factors, not least blind luck.

Given how recent the stroke was, given the upset it must have caused all of you, and given how anxious and stressed everybody must be - your sister, as well as your stepmother - it's very important not to take sides but just to give it time to settle down. I applaud your comment about wanting to help without 'being mean or problematic': absolutely, that is exactly the way to go.

It sounds as if there are many discussions to be had about planning for the elders' future. And, by the way, you don't acquire POA by virtue of carrying out a task: Power of Attorney is a very specific legal authority that can only be *given* by one competent person to another - so unless your father previously drew up 'just in case' POA documents then your sister is acting for him as next of kin, as his caregiver, or whatever, but not with POA.

Do your best to keep everybody talking, and try to get them to focus on where you all go from here. I'm sorry Stepmother feels frightened of Sister, but do you think she really has something to fear or is it more likely - you know your sister - that Stepmother is upset and anxious anyway, and finds your sister unsympathetic on top of that?
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You say Dad is on SSI? And other finances? Is your sister rep-payee for both Dad and his wife? That would make sense.
What is the wife's income source? Is she on SSI?
Are you sure it is SSI, and not Social Security for your Dad?

They live with your sister. Have you considered there is no extra income above food, rent/utilities, basic living expenses met by SSI income? If that is the case, maybe your sister is so upset that this has not occurred to you that she cannot speak to you? SSI is for low income.
Even so, if his wife is also on SSI, an allowance must figure into the equation. You say she can spend money for her personal needs. Does she have any spending cash money at all? It would make sense that a cell phone is not affordable on an SSI income, and maybe you should be sending your sister some help?
Just guessing here. Don't feel bad if you did not know.
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Very hard situation. Sounds to me like his wife is going to have to stand up for herself by going to an elder lawyer and demand her rights. Otherwise, she will always be at the mercy of her step daughter. Can you convince her to do this? If not, short of going there and taking on your sister, I don't know what you can do. You have to try to go on with your life and let it go, though I've not the slightest idea of how you will be able to do that. My heart goes out to you. You're in my prayers...
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My sister lives out of state. I am not in the same state with her. She does not communicate with me at all. I've have given her all the advise and refuses to listen. She has power of attorney for health because she is the one that transport him to the doctor.

I visited for a couple of weeks. Now, I am back in Cali. and won't be traveling any time soon.

From what I see, the wife needs a lawyer. She has no money for legal fees. And, I am completely powerless over my sister.

She has no power of attorney for his finances. She and my father have a joint bank account. My father made some unwise decision before his illness. Now, these are the consequences of his unwise actions. Ultimately, the wife is the victim. He can't remember anyone. His memory is gone.

Thanks for your suggestions.
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If necessary you may be able to get the attorney to come to the couples home.
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Godsbeautiful, first questions, does your sister how financial Power of Attorney for your Father and his wife? If not, then she cannot take over any control.

If there is no Power of Attorney, then other legal documents would be needed. Make an appointment with an Elder Law attorney, and if you think your Dad could understand some of the legal stuff, then take him and his wife along. That is if your sister would agree to that. In fact, have the sister come to the meeting, then the Attorney can tell her the right course of action.
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