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My mom has lived with me for seven months. She has paid her bills faithfully until this month. She still has her house and not being able to make decisions. She owes now two electric bills and insurance payment. I am in the process to get guardianship but it takes awhile. Can I take a check and pay the bill sign her name initial it and pay it. I would be paying her bills out of her account. If not how do I get the bills paid without paying it myself. My income is small and she lives here for nothing. We take nothing from her. It is winter and her electric will be shut off and pipes will freeze. Her reason is she doesn't live there so she should not have to pay.

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onlyacaregiver, your brother cannot sell the house your Mom lived in unless he has Financial Power of Attorney, which has the correct wording regarding the selling of real estate holdings.

Once someone is legally able to sign a Listing Agreement with a Realtor, sell the house "as is". With folks flipping houses, they tend to sell fairly quick. I would recommend a license Appraiser come in to give you an appraised value on the house, so you don't sell too low. I did the above with my Dad's house, it worked out great. Whew, one less thing to worry about :)

Some day your Mom may need to sign up for Medicaid, and with the 5 year look back, if Medicaid sees she had owned a house that was sold dirt cheap, they would question it.

Now I read that your brother lives in a house that your Mom owns... if your Mom does need Medicaid for her later years, Medicaid might put a lien on the house she still owns and your brother lives in. Once Mom passes, the house would need to be sold to help pay for the funds used for Mom's care. Or your brother could refinance the house, giving Medicaid the equity to cover the Medicaid bill.

Too bad we all can't turn back time so we could get all the legal documents in order to make life a bit easier. There is enough for those who do hands on caregiving without all this legal mess.
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Here is what is so funny. When I try to do anything financial, even though I have POA filed with them, they will insist on talking to my mother. They then ask her a series of questions and security questions...which only I know the answer to. So here we are on speaker with me answering al the questions - even things like her DOB or the last 4 of her SS#.

I should just say I am her to begin with but I never do.
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The brother, mentally ill, should be the one with a guardianship, a special needs trust, or call APS Adult Protective Services because his caregiver (who has been your mother) has in fact been unable to care for him, carry out her responsibilities towards him, and is now a vulnerable adult herself, subject to financial exploitation.

You may go so far as to have your Mom evaluated by APS, to help the guardianship/conservatorship along. She must be very worried and worried about him, so needs to stay in control to see that his basic needs are taken care of. If she did no financial planning for your brother, owning his house will actually hurt her and him.

Maybe if you are going to be the guardian of her, making the plans for his welfare would be helpful, and an attitude towards helping him would gain her trust and cooperation. It may be time to reconsider if you are up for the challenge of sorting out, then continuing with two vulnerable adults.

The help you are providing should not cost you any money. Others would advise you to NOT pay her expenses out of your own funds. Get a lawyer to address these things. Maybe her lawyer can pay her bills.

Good luck, if you proceed with her permission, doing the right thing, this can be sorted out. It is NOT OK for you to have to pay for something on her behalf because she refuses to pay it or does not give permission. imo.
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I assume you're aware of all the pitfalls in getting guardianship- that if your mother or brother object you could be in for a lengthy, expensive process - and even if your mother is
incompetent and your brother has issues as well - a judge will go through the motions to hear their objections along with likely requiring more than one independent assessment of your mothers mental status and whatever it will take to prove your brother unsuitable. But again - that's if either objects. On the plus side - should you win guardianship you can reimburse yourself for the whole expense of getting guardianship from your mothers funds. You probably already know all this if you are in the process but I thought I'd still mention it just in case...
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Honestly, I just sign my mother's name to her checks, or her credit card receipts. She and everyone knows I do that. I do have POA, but it wouldn't matter if I didn't. She doesn't want to bother and her handwriting is too shaky to be legible anyway. I don't initial it, either.

One other idea is to set up online accounts for all your mother's bills and have them paid automatically from her checking account. My sister set that up for all my mother's regular bills, because my mother had become somewhat forgetful and unreliable about it. My sister does not have POA but once you set up a password for an account, you have access to it. Neither of us has ever been questioned by anyone, about anything, except if we try to change my mother's accounts over the phone. Then they ask to speak to her to make sure she has okayed it, so we do that from her house with her there. Easy.
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Onlycaregiver...my sister from a different mister... we share the exact same story except that I have POA for my mother and instead of selling her former primary residence, we rented it out for income for her.

My mom even owns a spare house that my "has never been employed" brother lives in for free... and she makes all his repairs.

Luckily I had POA set up before Mom became such a mess. My suggestion is to take her tot he bank in the morning, while she is at her best and tell her that is she acts confused, you won't be able to help her. Have her put on her best performance for the banker. Once you get her to give you POA for her checking account, your life will be much easier.

What time are you coming over for Christmas dinner, Sis?
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And she will not sign any POA. We have all tried. No way! Guardianship is the way I'm going so I can move on things and have a little bit of a life.
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I feel a bit like a silly a** asking this, given the basic things I couldn't get my own mom to be reasonable about - but have you fully explained the freezing pipes concept? The vast expense in fixing the devastation a broken water pipe can cause - that the pipes will freeze especially because she isn't living there? If not - do as recommended above - turn the water off at the main and drain the pipes and the water heater. Be sure to completely decommission the water heater to avoid a costly mistake of blowing it up should someone try to run it when it's dry.
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Let me explain a little more. We want to sell the house but she only wants my brother to sell it and then give him all the money and yes she has said that. There was a codependency between them for years and she gave him thousands of dollars over the years. If she signs a contract she does not know what she is signing. She does not pay for anything here and won't even offer. But my for my brother she has paid out about 3200 since she lives here with us. He takes her to the bank while I was at work. He would come and stay with her and she paid him. So no more my husband stays with her now until we can get guardianship and I can get people in here. She will not spend a dime on anything and I wouldn't want it but she will on him. His insurance is due and she paying his but not for her house. He will not talk to her about the bills because he doesn't want her mad at him. I am in a mess but there is light at the end of the tunnel!! Oh yes and the house he lives in she owns but it's his when she passes. In fact we had to have her furnance fixed and he through a fit because she has to pay 150.00 which didn't I paid it. I'm putting up with a mentally ill brother and my mom who has dementia. Sorry for the vent. I guess I'll just pay them until guardianship is in my hands.
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onlyacaregiver, why is your Mom still keeping her house? That's a lot of upkeeping dealing with an empty house. Not only electric bills, but water bills, gas bills unless the house is heated by electric, outside maintenance [lawn care, and snow issues depending on where the house is located].

If Mom has a side walk in front of her house, the city/town might require it be shoveled, especially if it is used by school children walking to and from school, otherwise there could be very stiff fines.

As cwillie had mentioned above, with an empty house, your Mom needs to notify the home insurance carrier as the carrier needs to know the house is empty. Sometimes the carrier will refuse to keep the insurance going as empty houses are a high risk. Or, if she is lucky, the carrier will accept the empty house but at a much higher rate. If your Mom doesn't say anything to the carrier and something happens at the house, the carrier may not cover the repairs. If the house is up "For Sale" the carrier might give an exception [the carrier for my Dad's house did that].

As for the bank checks, take Mom to the bank and explain to them that you need to be able to sign checks for your Mom to pay her bills. You may need to have Financial Power of Attorney. The bank will set up a new account with both names, giving you access to sign. I did that with my Dad, when he decided he didn't want to bother dealing with bills.... oh fun, just what I wanted :P
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You can turn off the water and drain the pipes and water heater and winterize the toilets just like cottagers or snowbirds do. Don't let the insurance lapse, but be aware that her policy may require the home to be occupied, you may want to inquire about that. It is better to lay it all out now than to have them refuse coverage if there is a need to make a claim.
Signing the cheques for her is technically fraud and may come back to bite you if a vigilant bank employee notices. I don't suppose you can get her to sign a few blank cheques "for groceries" or some such? You could then used the voided cheques to set up auto pay.
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Can you fibb a little bit? Get her to sign a couple of checks? Be careful trying to forge a signature. Not a good idea.

Should you be thinking about selling this house?
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People may say, if she is competent, she can choose not to pay, suffer the consequences. However, it appears she is not competent if you are seeking guardianship.
If she does not plan to return to the home, help with the financial planning-ask her to either sign the check now, or a contract to sell her home. When a realtor comes for the interview, and asks her to sign, then tells her she should keep the pipes from freezing so pay that bill too, in order to sell her house.....that is called persuasion, allowing for choices, and just may get the bill paid. Maybe she will sign the check then, but under stress.

Or, pick another time, when she is alert, after breakfast (not in the afternoons), and bring up the subject again. Fill out the check for her, have her sign it.

Keep talking to her, ask if there is someone other than you she wants to have POA.

Others may recommend that you have her sign a POA while she may still be competent. Not waiting to find out so you can help her now.

So, what s your advice to your Mom?

Does she need protection from stress?

Call the company, explain, set up payments, or a delay in paying the bill?

In this day we just cannot take her funds legally, without her permission.
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