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She has dementia stemming from traumatic brain injury, basically no short term memory, so I take care of all her bills (I'm on her accounts) and pay someone to take care of her. She really can't take care of herself and my brothers are pushing for a nursing facility. I can't do that to her, but I can't make her come live with me without guardianship. I'm just afraid that guardianship will invite too much control from the courts. Shopping for what she wants and eating out are really the only expressions of independence she has left.

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Worried, this is how I handled the representative payee question. I didn't want to deal with the annual reports required by SS, so I was advised to open a second checking account to handle all of her other money, and have just her SS income going into her original account. From her original account, her premiums for Medicare Part D and her supplemental insurance are deducted. When the balance builds up enough, about two or three times each year, I pay for a month of her Assisted Living facility out of the account. All other bills and expenses are paid from the other account, which has my name on it to make things easier, but handles only her funds. This way, if there is ever a question as to how her SS money has been spent, I have the bank statements to show that it was all for her benefit.
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Dear Worried About Mom ~ You need to consult a lawyer about guardianship. It is quite a process. Go see a lawyer about doing and they will give you all the right answers for the questions you have for the state you live in. Best wishes.
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The basic usually includes rent in the facility which has other services available as add-ons, and meals. Once a week superficial cleaning, one load of laundry a week, and the opportunity to take part in the wonderfully entertaining activities such as bingo, exercise class, maybe art or bible study, etc. So its bascally rent plus meals, sold with an entertainment package and a bit of minimal housekeeping. You live in a place where extra services can be available at additional cost, in a way they cannot be in private apartment buildings. Thats assisted living.
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"med administration, bathing, dressing assist, reminders for meals, extra cleanups for accidents, etc etc."
WOW. Those are not part of the fee? So, basically, the $3500 is just rent?
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I also want to remark how often brothers would push for a nursing facility without knowing what the cost will be and how it would be paid for. The facts there can definitely change the plan they push for. Its good to get those facts now, by visiting a nursing home or two. In every individual case, there are wiggles which change the numbers, and plenty of homework has to be done to know how much its going to cost in AL, and to learn what "add-ons" will be needed beyond the basic rent if she were there. Don't just talk to marketing, get into the evaluation phase of the initial placement where real numbers can emerge. Usually it would cost at least $3500 a month private pay, plus add ons for other things such as med administration, bathing, dressing assist, reminders for meals, extra cleanups for accidents, etc etc. Often there is a phase of "its assisted living why don't they assist her" for the children as they learn about add ons.
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With a DPOA, you can go to the SS office with your DPOA paperwork, and get named as the representative payee and have the money direct deposited to her account so you can pay her bills with it. Another good thing about this move is that the courts want you to use a DPOA and a Healthcare Directive and then show that these together were not powerful enough or safe enough to accomplish what had to be done to keep her protected. In our case, Mom had to be forced out of the home for safety, but she fought it all the way and it was very rough going and expensive too.
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No my brothers aren't interested in guardianship. They just want her cared for and they don't want to be the ones to do it. They direct all care and financial things in my direction, so I don't think that is an issue. I just don't want to put her in a home. It is one of her greatest fears. I would love for her to be able to live on her own and feel independent, but it's just less and less possible. I think living with me is probably the best compromise. For the immediate future, I will try to get a DPOA. I saw a figure of $25K mentioned for getting guardianship so I will definitely have to wait on that one.
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It's risky to continue without any real authority to handle your mom's affairs. I would consider the tips here and see if she is able to sign for you to be her Durable POA. I would read about the terrible predicaments family members find themselves in when they don't have authority to act. Things may be okay now, but that could change quickly.

Here is a link about becoming a Representative Payee to handle her funds from social security. They have rules and reports that are required. I would read the rules carefully before you proceed. I would also read the situations that can arise that will make it difficult if you are not the Representative Payee. There are probably some thread around here on it and there is information on the Social Security site about. Even if you are the POA, you still are supposed to be the Representative Payee to handle those funds. I understand that you have things set on automatic draft.

http://www.ssa.gov/payee/bene.htm#&a0=1
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Worried - so are brothers the types to continue wanting mom to be in a facility?

Do either of them have DPOA for mom? if so, whomever hold this can move mom into a facility.

If its the case that mom did no legal before the injury, the only way for you or your brothers to do for mom now legally is for 1 of you to become her guardian. I'd be concerned that one of your brothers will go to court to be named guardian and then you are totally left out of anything.

Now guardianship costs to do, but if you become guardian, those costs will be paid from her assets to your attorney.

Does mom have assets & a good amount of monthly income? It sounds like she has a home which she lives, is that the case? Is one of your SIL over hearing about her MIL needs & living situation? Is one of your brothers feeling at wits end in dealing with you & mom? If these are yes, yes, yes, I'd bet that a brother files for Guardianship.

Guardianship really can be very straightforward to do. The reporting to the court has a set form that should take a half hour to fill out. You just need to document expenses which are are probably already doing. Judges look to family & current caregiver family to be appointed guardian. As long as you don't have something scary in you background (like bankruptcy, or felony) you should be ok. Yiur know your family best if one brother is apt to file.

I'd be careful & cautious in speaking to SSA on representative payee. SSA will require the elder to appear at a SS office to do this. From what I've heard if the elder does not seem to be competent & cognitive on their own, SSA will place a hold on RP to be done and will contact APS to do a well person check on the elder at their home and wait for that report from APS. What is often simpler, is to help them go online to have their SS check be direct deposited into their bank account (only in their name) but as you as a signature on the account with the account POD (pay on death) to you. If your brothers insist on oversight on this, then everbody gets online viewing access to the account.
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If the court has not declared her incompetent by approving a formal guardianship petition, she may still be able to sign a POA for you. You should have it anyway if you are paying her bills...even paying online you should have the POA to do it. Mom called this "Otto-pay" and boy did she value Otto.

My own solution for Mom who wants her spending money is I gave her a debit card on a joint account, and that is her allowance for the month for the hairdresser, taking friends to eat, clothing, other optionals including the ATM.
I put alerts to my Iphone for every ATM withdrawal and every expense sends an email alert. This way I feel I can track her and prevent fraud but otherwise I don't complain, I just make her wait till next month when the 'pension' comes in. It works for me, and she is functioning well with this. She is always with a companion when she goes to the ATM, and with a very small set of friends when she is out. This much control makes her feel very much more powerful, and it also allows me to refuse to pay for elective stuff that I don't want to pay for.
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Worried, don't worry! :) If you are your mother's guardian, there will be nothing to stop you spending your mother's money as SHE wishes, provided that it is in her best interests. In fact, as far as possible, it's recommended: every guardian ought to consult the person's wishes and take them into account, overruling them only when necessary to protect her wellbeing.

Two examples:

One - just hypothetically, not referring to your actual mother at the moment - your mother doesn't want to move into an ALF. But you, having researched every possible option, conclude that this is the best and safest place for her. As her guardian, you can still use her money to pay for the ALF even though that is not her preference. Or, supposing there were two choices, and she consistently preferred the more expensive one which was also an irritating but not prohibitive distance further away from you. Hard luck: you should go with the one she prefers; and although you should explain all the pros and cons you shouldn't browbeat her about her choice, either - that's bullying.

Two: your mother, every year, has bought each of her grandchildren a ten pound bag of candy on their birthdays. Popular with the kids, not with the parents, and not with you; but this has been her habit and she wishes to continue it. Best practice is that you should continue the gifts. You know her wishes, her wishes don't go against her own welfare, proceed as normal. And if the parents confiscate said candy (or bill her for dentistry??!!) then that's their lookout, not yours. Or, of course, you could send the grandchildren the equivalent cash via their parents and leave them to sort it out amongst themselves.

So, bottom line, if you get guardianship it will give you all the tools you need to look after your mother but it will never force you to prevent her from doing something safe and practical that she wishes to do, including spending pocket money - as much as she likes, within the bounds of sensible security and her practical finances. Assuming that going for guardianship is not unaffordable or otherwise problematic, I would.

Brownie points to that neurologist, by the way. Pointless prescribing isn't something that every doctor would refuse to do, sadly.
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Yes I have looked at different facilities, I just don't think it is for her. Because she has no short term memory, she does not socialize or get to know others very well. She is really only comfortable with close friends and family.
I do not have power of attorney, and her condition pretty much prevents me getting it now.
Guardianship- Yes this is what I'm worried about. But as long as she is allowed to have a spending allowance and do what she wants, that would be fine.
Prognosis is indefinite. Her neurologist said there is basically nothing there, he won't even prescribe memory meds for her because he said it's useless.
Representative Payee - good to know, how do I go about doing this? Does it matter even when I am paying her bills that are in her name? I have automated as many as possible, but she still does get some other bills, mainly medical.
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First of all, many assisted living facilities provide transportation for those residents who want to go shopping and or out to eat. They also have social activities, games, dances, church services, concerts, hair salon, etc. on site. Have you looked into what type of facility she night need? There are options.

Do you have Durable Power of Attorney?

If you go the guardianship route, the courts are involved and they are likely to require that you place all of mom's income in an Estate account that is only for her use. In some states, they also require annual accountings so you must show all income and disbursements with cancelled checks, receipts, etc. Plus, some places require that the guardian be bonded, which may require you to have good credit. So, it's fairly involved, though it is an option if necessary.

What is your mom's prognosis? Do they expect any further decline or is she expected to stay at this level indefinitely?

Beware if you are writing checks on an account that mom's social security or disability checks are going. You are supposed to be a Representative Payee with Social Security to handle those funds.
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If you get guardianship, YOU control how her money is spent, not the courts. If your brothers don't oppose your petition for guardianship, your appointment, I should think, would be a slam dunk. If they oppose, it could get complicated and expensive.
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That should read *mother* not other.
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