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Recently my FIL passed away. MIL is in her 90's and we see the pace of her cognitive decline increasing. What MIL wants more than anything is to move in with SIL who is in her 60's and single. It makes sense for both of them, but the problem is SIL is awful. She hates her brother (my DH), she is selfish. She sees her mother about 6 times a year, always at her own convenience and it is MIL who drives to see her. (She still drives, but directions are becoming a problem). We have discovered that MIL has put SIL's name on all financial accounts. MIL wants to buy a house for her and SIL where SIL lives, and SIL is all for it. At this point, DH and I do not feel we can stop this. We have been thinking that if MIL gives SIL power of attorney that this will provide some legal protection. That is, if SIL has POA, she will be legally required to make decisions in best interest of MIL. It is likely that SIL will see getting POA as a power grab victory, but we are thinking we can "hoist her on her own petard", that we can use her own manipulations to keep her in line, and then if need be, have a legal basis to intervene.


We don't believe we can stop MIL at this point, so is it accurate that there is more protection legally for MIL or for us, if SIL has POA?

AlvaDeer is spot on. Step away from this train wreck. Your SIL has shown her colors and you are pretty powerless. Do you REALLY want POA to deal with all this? Save yourself and your marriage and dont take the responsibility on. I wish you well.
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Reply to ML4444
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Just an update: DH was fixing faucet for MIL last night, who was feeling emotional and blurted out that she could hardly wait to move.
So it came out that SIL is looking at apartments for her an MIL to live in and that this is likely to happen any day, in a couple of weeks, maybe a month at the most. Then MIL will put her house on the market. After the sale, they will buy a house "together." (SIL will choose it. MIL will pay for it.)
as much as I dislike SIL and feel exasperated by MIL, I really feel sympathy for both of them. SIL will be facing the trauma and drama of eldercare and MIL is facing depending her daughter who has neither the maturity or life skills to manage her own life. God help them.
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AlvaDeer Sep 10, 2019
Sorry, but I see this as excellent news. You already know that SIL will likely be on the phone for help. Decide now to be as charitable as you are able. This will be a hard lesson for her, and yes, God help them. Truly, even as an atheist, I am all for any help we can get!
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It seems to me that POA for sis is like giving her the keys to the castle. Mil is maybe not LEGALLY INCOMPETENT but many of us been through this no mans land. Elders are driving, know time place and day, but are making ridiculous decisions about money and care.

I think your choices are to just stand back and let the train wreck happen or....Apply in court for guardianship/Conservator. If you’ve got the time, money and stomach for it you may prevail and protect mom and her money in her last years. I had to do it for my folks to be able to handle the real estate and finances .
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Do not believe you can manipulate or influence SIL.  That will drive her and MIL further away.  AlvaDeer has some excellent advice.  Hugs.  Nothing will be easy.
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To be frank, I see stepping away from all of this as abandonment and it is EXACTLY what I would DO.
Sad, that. But true. Trying to take any of this on will make your and DH life a nightmare of accusation as you try to help and protect, with both SIL and Mom against you. Let them have it. Let them have it all. Let SIL deal with all the finances (not easy) and with Mom as well, move her in or move her into care when the time comes.
Be supportive. Be kind. Be DISTANT. Offer your help. As to the SIL, I hope you can tell me she is a reasonably intelligent woman who can handle all of this POA and Trustee of Trust and whatever of whatever malarky. It isn't fun. YOUR own power would come only if you suspect financial abuse of incompetence. That would involve going to courts for examination and possibly the appointment of a public guardian for Mom. Paid, but there you are.
I would step away. I think the two of you should go to a counselor if you are able, a Licensed Social Worker who works with Elder life change and family. I think you should together come up with a plan that is basically "offer support and help when needed, but step away, no opinions, no interference."
I know this all sounds easy and won't be easy, and someone on the forum posted a thing about the easy platitudes that are doled out while no one helps you; will make me think long and hard about anything I post today. But for me, I would be out of there. Abandonment R Us. Save yourselves. Anything else will be misery and so thankless.
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inkandpaper Sep 7, 2019
I think that you are correct. Just today, I told DH, your mom is not incompetent at this point, she is foolish. And it is does not sound nice to say, but foolishness has consequences. We can't protect her from her foolishness. SIL is not a stupid person, so she can handle the job. Will she be selfish and is it likely she will be unfair. Yep. But you are correct. We can't stop them from this path that they are taking. I am sad for DH. It hurts him, but then he gets some freedom too. If SIL wants all control, she gets all control and all the hard parts too.Thanks.
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DH and I both "know" that we won't be able to keep this train wreck from happening. Currently MIL keeps herself, fed and clean. Her home is clean, She can still drive (but only to places that she goes to over and over or she will get lost). I doubt she will be found incompetent in any way. Still, she gets confused, forgets, refuses to admit it and lashes out at DH in ways that are downright cruel. The short term memory is going fast. I think the dynamic in the family is one that I have heard of so often. MIL dotes on, adores and prefers the child who is financially irresponsible and needy over the one who is financially responsible and has been taking care of himself and his family for years. Adored child believes she should be adored and preferred.
I will make the attempt to try to get to her doc with her and at least have on record that there are concerns about MIL's cognition. We know MIL is going to turn to SIL and throw her lot in with her. God help her.
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Can you prove your MIL has a sound mind right now? Can you or DH take her for a doc appointment and have her discretely tested for cognitive decline officially? This would help your case if she makes SIL PoA and you are truly that worried.

SIL having PoA won't guarantee anything except that you will be kept out of the loop on everything and will have to hire an attorney to wrench info out of her if she doesn't make it forthcoming. Would MIL be willing to have both SIL and your DH as PoAs? You can have more than one. This is the only way to really keep her "honest". But your MIL can change that paperwork at any time and remove your DH and it will be his burden to prove that there is legal reason to be concerned. This will require time and money. Good luck!
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