Have money questions about elderly grandma

melissasFebruary 27, 2009

My grandmother, aged 92, lives on her own. It's become apparent to my father, her only living child, that although physically she is fine, financially she is unable to care for herself. She hasn't paid her rent, gas, or electric in 4 months. She constantly opens and closes her bank accounts, causing bills directly withdrawn from her account to bounce. My dad took over her finances, to which grandma agreed. He paid the bills and gave her cash to pay for food and incidentals ($650). After 3 days she ran out of money, and called him, wanting more. She won't tell him what she did with the money. He said she could only have a little more cash, and if he gave her more she wouldn't have money for her other bills. Well, she got angry and called the police and told them he was stealing from her because he wouldn't give her the money. So my dad said, "fine" and backed off, letting her take over the bills again. My dad has contacted every agency he could think of to try to get help for her, but can't find any. When anyone investigates the situation they say nothing can be done because she's lucid, physically healthy, and able to care for herself and her home. This is causing my dad a lot of stress, and a lot of angst for me. Is there anything that can be done to "force" her to allow him to care for her money? He already has power of attorney, but that means nothing to her bank.Thanks.

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I don't think there is anything that can be done if the doctor says she's okay. When I appointed someone to be my power of attorney my lawyer told me, "don't give the original to the POA, only a copy. POA should only take effect when the person becomes incapacitated. It's her money, don't worry about it and I know that would be a hard thing to watch. If she spends it all you won't have to pay her bills.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 5:37PM
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Document everything. Is there a lawyer specializing in elder care? How about senior aging commision. Maybe instead of 'taking over' could he sit down with her once a week, go over the bills, he could fill them out, she sign them, etc. Talk to the bank manager. Unless the power of attorney is with her bank, they may not honor it. If there is quite of bit money involved. it could be very easy to have someone talk her out of it. Ask the lawyer about different types of power of attorney. Talk to the Dr. and explain what is going on, and oh yes, by the way because of the HIPPA laws, unless she gives the insurance and medicare, and medical group signed permission, if she does become to the point she cannot or will not take care of herself, nothing can be done. One problem, she might get mad at her son, and any one, stranger or friend could talk her into given that power of attorney. Please, continue to look into the situation to protect everyone.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 10:37PM
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Thanks for the counsel. She already has been ripped off by a trusted neighbor (about $1000) who now has a warrant out for her arrest. Thanks for the HIPPA advice. I'll have my dad look into that, too.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:49AM
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You may think she's physically fine, but actually what you describe are signs of dementia. Your dad may want to talk to an elder care attorney. I'd be watching out for other signals about her mental condition. Does she drive? How does she get to the bank? Her grocery shopping? Where does she spend her money? A lot of people take to hiding cash in the house and then forget where it is.

But I think this may be a symptom of dementia. And dementia doesn't go away or get better. She's probably good at covering it up, too.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 10:11AM
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I think that most states have courts that can declare her mentally incompetant to handle her finances. Someone would then be appointed her financial guardian. You might want to check with your lawyer so that you can pursue this course if it becomes necessary.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 11:09AM
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I have to agree about her having dementia. She may appear to be "lucid" but if she is not making decisions that are sensible, she needs help. Your Dad should gather up whatever paperwork he has showing that she has very late bills, and closes accounts that should remain to pay them, etc, and take them to an attorney he trusts. The attorney will know how to go about having your Dad put in charge of her finances. Hopefully, she and your Dad can get past this and back to a peaceful relationship. She may need an appointment with her doctor, also, due to the cognitive issues. Getting help for her is the best way to go about this. There may be a medication the doctor can try. Also, if she calls the police or something, your Dad has professionals on his side who already know the history of this. Good luck to your Dad.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 3:34PM
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I thought the same thing as the others have said. It sounds like she's not clear thinking, Dementia.
It can be very hard to get a doctor to see she's having trouble with her financial affairs and now that she's knows that her son knows she's not doing well she'll be even more guarded in what she tells and say's to him.
All the doctor care about is that a person can tell you their name, where they live. I went through it for 3 years with my dad till he ended up having to go into a rehab after a pacemaker was put in. The doctor there told me dad had dementia pretty bad. He told me to take away his cars. That would not have gone over at all but as it ended up dad has to stay in a nursing home permanently.
Best you can do is stand by your dad and understand what he's going through. It's very hard on the child of the parent having to take over and care for them. As you said he got upset when she made a big to do over the money, well it's not the end of her fight. She'll fight everything he or anyone that try's to take over her affairs. It's only natural not to want anyone in your business, but it clearly needs to be done or she'll end up living with one of ya'll or on the street.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:07PM
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She is incompetent to manage her own affairs. Unfortunately, your only remedy is in the court. Nowhere else. Act aggressively, and at once. She requires guardianship, which should be you. Of course she'll hate you for it. However, from your description, there's nothing else to be done but to take control. Period. If you don't, whatever happens next will be worse.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 7:20PM
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My Mom knew this might happen to her so she gave us our inheritance, legally, so much a year, then we bought her house. That was years and years ago and she is 96 and her health is finally failing in a way the doc's can't fix.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 10:55PM
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