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My 84 year old mother lives in Hawaii, I'm in CA. I visit her quarterly to help with admin things. She is starting to make dreadful accounting errors ie: Writing a check for $12,000 when the intended amount was $1,200!
When I try to address my concerns, she goes ballistic. She has had three strokes and a dx of Alzheimer's several years ago. She is in complete and utter denial about her deficits. Currently, she's being supported by caring neighbors who look in on her frequently. They all have said privately that they think she needs AL, which mother is adamant about avoiding. She lives on a meager SS income and cannot afford live-in care.
How do I keep her from writing checks? Do I have to get her declared incompetent? I am very reluctant to do this but extremely worried about protecting her.
Thank you-

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Igloo has great info.. I would only add, could mom be moved to CA, near you? That would make everything a whole.lot easier. Even if she is in Asst Living or memory care, she will need doctor & specialist appointments, clothes, eyeglasses perhaps, etc and all these things are not provided nor coordinated by the ALF. Someone is going to need to oversee her care even in facility. So unless she is in your same city I think someone else should be poa (or Guardian).
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As others have said guardianship is needed.

But my concern would be if that person should be you. As someone who has dealt with mom & mom's house from another state (I'm am only child), it is not easy to do what is needed a la minute. Realistically can you be there within the day? If not, perhaps it may be better to have either a trusted neighbor or an attorney serve as the guardian or co - guardian. Also you may want to find out IF for Hawaii, the probate judges (where guardianships are heard) want /like/ require that the guardian be a resident of the State. I'd try to find if that is what needs to happen first as that determines the path you need to take in all this.

As mom has her home, mom has assets. If she has savings or investments, even more assets. So IMHO you are not going to be dealing with Medicaid so you have the ability to do things within the guardianship. ( If mom was poor, I'd suggest that mom became a ward of the state). I'd suggest that you find an elder law firm or maybe better an estate planning law firm who has attorneys with licenses to practice in Hawaii & CA and get an appt with the firms office or partnering firm in CA ASAP. Guardianships have costs - maybe 8 -12k but it sounds like this is what has to be done as mom "showdogs" and won't cooperate or be cajoled. If you don't, what is likely to happen is one of the neighbors will contact the police or APS on mom one day in the future. Once that happens the state is more in control - you are not a resident of Hawaii & viewed as absent & not doing the required fiduciary duty of a POA. You have to be more proactive in this and start what is needed for guardianship so you do not find yourself & more importantly your mom in this situation.

Also another suggestion, your moms neighbors are gems. Neither you nor mom could be at this point without them. Today get on-line and send them a Easter bunny bouquet or Passover basket and to all the neighbors who look out for mom.

Also not to sound harsh, but I think you have to get outside of the fog of denial on your mom. Put on your big girl panties and take charge on all this. Stop letting mom make decisions. For my mom, turning point was coming in an finding the gas stove on and mom blissfully unaware folding clothes in her bedroom; got her on IL lists that afternoon; moved her a couple of months later; day of the move to IL lots of handwringing, crying and you can't do this to me dramarama; 3 days later she didn't answer the phone at her IL apt; I go into panic mode to run down to IL; then I called one last time, mom answers all out of breath & pissy, "can't talk, got to get downstairs to get on the van to go to Steinmart" click. Your mom will adjust and adapt to her AL. She may actually flourish & find new interests at the AL or NH. Good luck in all this.
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Guardianship gives a designee control of all aspects of the loved ones life. Financial, medical housing etc. POA can be withdrawn or changed by your mom. The process for guardianship is different in various states. Basically two medical authorities must declare the patient mentally incompetent and this info must be presented in a court hearing and decided by a judge or magistrate . Check this site for more details.
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Thank you.
I do manage all but one bill remotely,but do not physically have the check books. I have POA on her bank accounts, am co-trustee on the home, and thought I was doing well managing from afar. I was so completely disturbed to find her writing checks to various charities (Many duplicate checks written within the same session, etc.) that I confronted her gently about my concerns. That's when things disintegrated. She gets hostile very quickly and makes terrible accusations and is incredibly difficult to reason with. She manipulates with anger and sarcasm. I'm trying to help, but she views everything through the lens of power and control, so it's hard to talk calmly. I know intellectually that this is the face of dementia, but there are plenty of lucid moments that make it hard to get a true reading on her capacity. Her Neuro testing 2 years ago showed big deficits in Executive functioning, and the MD advised her then to assign guardianship. She does understand that I'm trying to help, but it's fleeting. There are many other concerns, but obviously, keeping her fiscally safe is the biggest concern.
When you talk about guardianship, what does that mean, exactly?
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You have to get guardianship. It sounds like you may be overdue. I would do everthing possible to control her finances now while going through the guardianship process. It also seems like she is ready for al. You're too far away to take care of her at this point in her progression.
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