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My Mother-in-law is in rehab from complications of COPD and Parkinson's. Her sister was handling her bills and and SS matters, but she was doing it haphazardly and my mother-in-law's finances and care has suffered because of it. We now have a POA with my husband and I on it. I just don't know where to start. The aunt is only giving us bills, no records or anything. We need to get the records from the hospital and mom's previous nursing home to help with her care. We don't know all the state programs that she is a part of. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

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As someone who is 85 and living alone, I find these answers helpful in setting up a system so my son can take over my financial and medical matters if I become incapacitated. In 1980 I became responsible for my mother overnight when my father died suddenly. Consulting a lawyer helped.
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onix893, I am currently going through something similar with a parent. I never realized that my Mom handled most of the finances until she passed and I found Dad not paying any attention to bills needing to be paid. Oops. So I gathered up all the financial 3-ring binders, and dragged home what felt like a ton of paper from numerous files and trunks.

Yes, as suggested above by other writers, get a change-of-address so that all the "billing" come to your address. It will probably take 3 to 4 months until everything is running smoothly.

Like Rainmon had mentioned regarding Rainmon's parents, my parents also had numerous banks and numerous stock brokerages. I was worried that maybe paper issued stock was buried in the yard somewhere or under a mattress. When the Statements started coming in I was relieved :)

I had to set up a lot of on-line accounts just to change the addresses, that in itself was a long haul. Companies said I would need a new pin number and that letter would be sent to the last known address they had on file. Thus, that created a week or two delay before the letter got to me.

Then I was digging through paperwork and found Medicare statements and secondary insurance statements, so I sorted all those out and place in new 3-ring binders. Staples loved seeing me, "More 3-right binders?". The binders really helped me to be more organized. Treat yourself to the newest 3-ring binders out there that have just one easy to open handle instead of two. I color coded to the company's color on their logo.

Good luck :)
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I had to take my mom physically to the bank and have her add me to her accounts. POA wasnt recognized by them.
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Amy, good point on changing the address for SS; I was thinking only in terms of the monthly deposits, but the end of the year notifications are critical as well.

Also, good suggestion on not making the NH the payee.
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GardenArtist is so right about everything. The first thing is to file a change of address for your MIL - so everything is mailed to you. For some reason, there are few security protections on credit cards, etc as long as you have an old statement you can do it.
If you get your MIL to sign a health care proxy you should be able to get all the medical information. (I have to say though, that since Mom has been in the NH, it is not as easy to get medical information from them as it was from a private doctor.)
The exception in getting information is Social Security. That you will have to print a form out and get your MIL to sign that in order to change the mailing address so you get the 1099's sent to you. So important to take care of SS because it does not recognize a POA!
We have Mom's SS checks deposited into a joint account and I paid her IL, or AL or NH bills from that.
I jumped through hoops and became "payee" eventually for Mom's SS. We self pay the NH so I did not make the NH "payee" since you never know if you might have to move the parent and then you have a mess.
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It sounds like you may have an easier go of it than I did. My parents were Depression Era babies - my mother dramatically effected - who did very well for themselves. They had money in three different banks plus a S&L and investments with four different brokers plus some they had done independently. New accounts had been opened, old accounts never closed or no notations of them being closed. Looking for the key to their safety deposit box was like a freakin' Easter egg hunt! If it weren't for the pressure involved - putting their house on the market after months of repairs, cleanings and updates, getting them moved to IL and hiring caregivers - well, the money mystery would have almost been fun. I never knew what each week would bring - a new account found, a paper trail leading to an annuity...weeeeee!
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Thank you for your answers. We are trying to have her sign a MPOA and MOLST, but anytime we talk about it she becomes so agitated. They are also tweaking her anxiety meds so hopefully we can deal with them soon. I have filled out a change of address form so that should help with the bills and checks. I will hopefully be getting the rest of her things from her sister this week so then I can sort everything. She has no assests and her SS debit card was canceled, not sure by who, when she entered a nursing home.
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RainMom raises an important issue: taxes. File an extension with the Federal government, and with the state if necessary (Michigan doesn't require an extension if a Federal extension is filed). Contact IRS to see if you can get copies of the last few years of returns, with all filed schedules as well. IRS has its own POA form, so you'll have to execute that.
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Okay, that was through! I guess the only thing I can add is - I whole heartedly agree about watching the mail and being sure you've put in a change of address. Five years ago both my parents crashed within a day of each other. Hospital stays followed by rehab. This happened late in March without a tax document to be found and all records, statements, accounts a total mess. My parents came out of rehab worse than when they went in so were no help. After fileing a tax extension with the IRS my treasure hunt began - it took nearly a year to get everything figured out and whipped into shape. Just getting the mail - statements and bills were my best first clues. Some investment statements only come quarterly so it can take some time to get a complete accounting of what is where and how much. Good luck to you!
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The first thing I would do is file a change of address for your MIL to your address. That way you'll get her first class mail - bills, financial statements from banks, stocks or mutual fund holders, etc. It's the first step to identify incoming and outgoing financial, medical and insurance accounts.

From there, if it helps, you could inventory obligations vs. income, breaking each down as necessary with information such as contacts, account numbers, quarterly or monthly payments/obligations, etc., so you have a consolidated record of her financial situation.

SS should be directly deposited; the federal government has been encouraging recipients of federal funds (including VA funds) to arrange for direct deposit.

At least with the bills you'll can have that aspect under control and notify the creditors that you're handling her finances.

If you don't know where the bank accounts are, watch for statements; banks usually send monthly statements. You can also contact the creditors and ask if that particular bank is the one through which all the bills have been paid, i.e., there could be another account that's used to make some payments. If her sister gives you all the checks she has, that's even better yet.

If there are credit cards, you'll get monthly statements, so you can add those to the inventory.

Contact the bank(s) and discuss whether to open a new account with your names as POA or whether to add you as joint signatories on existing accounts. Ask about any savings, CDs, money markets, etc.

You might want to order credit reports to determine if there are any other outstanding obligations, such as equity loans.

Does she own a house to which she'll be returning? If so, I would contact the mortgagee and advise that you'll be making payments on her behalf. The mortgagee could also tell you who the homeowner's insurance carrier is, as carrying HO insurance is mandated in mortgages.

As to the medical issues, if you have a POA that's only financial and legal, you'll need a Living Will a/k/a medical POA to get medical records. Your MIL will have to execute this, and it should be prepared by an attorney.

Doubtless you'll get advice to just download form from online; if you choose that route, don't expect to get a comprehensive MPOA that's specifically tailored to your MIL's wishes; you'll have to add those provisions to a boilerplate document yourself.

Contact her doctors, get their HIPAA forms and have MIL sign them so you can get doctor's records if needed.

When you write to request medical records, be specific in what you want - summaries, charts, etc. If you want everything, state that and use the term including but not limited to all" ....charts, tests, etc. Be expected to pay for the full medical records though.

I don't really know much about accessing information on state programs, which I assume to mean Medicaid or some type of assistance. However, once you meet with the bank reps, ask them what direct deposits your MIL might be getting; usually there will be identifying data when the deposits are made.
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