I just became POA over my 86 year old mom. Since I became POA, she's been in the hospital twice, rehab and now in an assisted living facility. My sister literally just dumped all this on me with not much information. I still have teenagers I'm raising and I own a business to run. I don't even know where to begin. I've been running myself into the ground and I'm exhausted. I'm so sick today I just can't get out of bed. I finally got a chance to go through her bank account information and it looks like there's roughly $80k unaccounted for. My siblings won't talk to me anymore and I don't know why. I tried to find out about her life insurance policy yesterday and it appears it's no longer on file. The only statement I have is from 2018. I can't log into her account because I don't know the user name and password. I was on hold for over 2 hours yesterday and finally had to hang up. When my dad passed away in 2010 there was $90k in one annuity and now it's down to $10k. When I asked my sister for my mom's bank statements so I can get her VA benefits she had a lawyer send me a letter saying that if I keep harassing her I'll be sent to jail!! The VA does a 3 year look back and they are asking me where the money went. IDK where it went. There's also $30 missing from one of my mom's bank accounts. My sister switched banks so often and my mom doesn't even know what bank she had before. The bank statements from 2015-2020 is what I really need and that bank is now closed down.
I don't know anything about Medicare or Medicaid at all. I just know I really need some help. I'm located in the Northern KY area close to Cincinnati if anyone can lead me in the right direction. I'm trying to save money and paying someone to give her a bath a few times a week instead of paying the facility $1k a month to do it.
I don't know if I need a criminal attorney for my sister because I know she was forging my mom's name on her checks and obviously taking her money. An Elder attorney because that is elder abuse. I just need someone to help me please.
Not to be harsh, but don't waste any time in getting professidonal help...your journey has only just begun-good luck!
You can't go back and change that, but it may be worth trying to apologize for hanging back so long and see if you can change the dynamic of your relationship. It may well be that there were valid reasons for the expenditures. You will be surprised how much money gets used for "incidentals" like walkers, emergency trips to walk-in clinics, temporary help, and modifications to the house. It may help to stop accusing your sister (with no actual proof of wrong-doing) and ask her to help you to understand what has been done and what needs to be done in the future. My guess is that your sister needed help with your mom long ago but you were too busy to see it or offer help. No blame here. Most of us who have helped care for an elder even a little bit know that it is something that seems so simple until you get into it. Once you start getting into it, caregiving is like Lucy in the taffy factory, with everything getting more and more overwhelming. Now that you know better what your sister was going through, all the legal stuff and personal needs that must be attended to, you can see how she was overwhelmed by it all. Of course, she may also have taken advantage of her position to appropriate some of your mother's money, but that is not the first assumption I would make.
For others who may be letting a sib take on all the big chores of caregiving, try to get involved, make sure that the sib is not overwhelmed, learn some of the very complex issues in Medicare and Medicaid and be there to assist in trying to figure out what issues your parents may face. It seems that the family member who is least able to understand all the legal jargon is the most likely to be the one facing it. It certainly was that way in my family. One of the good things about having sibs is that much can be shared. I am grateful to the sisters who took on more than their share and I do wish I had done more, sooner. My non-participation led to some difficult times in my mother's final weeks and after her death, but we have managed to get through that and we are friends again. I see that more of my participation early on--even just reading up on the legalese and offering a second look at the paperwork--would have made for easier transitions later on.
Thank you for your candid story; I wish my siblings were on the blog to read your post.
I've been on this journey with my mom alone for over ten years. I can not believe how close I once was with my siblings, so simply go absent. Their absence in my life took me years of feeling hurt, and I had to come to the reason that if someone can so easily be out of their mother's life, then maybe I don't want them in my life.
I learned to steadfast the energy to take my mom's life turns (which these last three months have been many) because of my supportive spouse and friends, for which I am so grateful. And moments like now, when I take a break to read this forum and know my story is not unique.
Perhaps that is why . . .
Since you are overwhelmed now -and you have a need for professional, legal advice and direction - please contact an attorney. This is a serious matter requiring legal professionals.
$30 missing - or was that a typo.
I SMELL A RAT. Get an attorney.
Gena / Touch Matters
Cut and pasted:
I just took over POA over my Mom last month. It was literally dumped on me because my sister was done with her. She moved in with my mom in 2010, never paid a dime for anything, sold my dad's car and kept the money. My mom is 86 years old and has Autism. My sister didn't tell anyone that she was buying my mom's house in which she lived in for 63 years. In 2010 the house appraised for $120K. My sister put new siding on the house, a new garage door, a giant shed in the back yard, the entire house painted, a huge patio and deck added, a new roof, had at least 4 trees removed. She used my moms money for all these things. In 2020, she bought the house from my mom for$120K. How exactly does that work? Now my mom doesn't qualify for VA Aid and Attendance and other VA benefits because she has too much money. The house would have been deeded directly to her from what I understand because she took care of her for 10 years. She even had my mom sign a contract that my mom would pay for a new sewer line to be installed 1 1/2 years after she bought it. So, she basically got the house for free and screwed my mom out of her VA benefits. What can I do? What kind of an attorney do I need? Criminal? Elder? VA? There's 5 of us and I'm the youngest who is still raising kids. 2 of my brothers are retired and their kids are in there 40's the others have kids in there 30's. And I'm the only one doing anything. Oh, and she dropped her off at an assisted living facility a week before Christmas last year. I really need some help. I live in Florence, KY, BTW if anyone knows of someone who can help me." - end quote -
It will be exhausting but you legally have the ability to say no to being a POA. One step at a time, one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. You will be able to work this out.
There are a couple of scenarios here...did sister dump everything because she is burnt out from everything and perhaps there was no "system" in place and she got overwhelmed.
Or, has anyone been legally appointed POA. An Elderly Attorney and Social Worker can assist you. Don't waste your time at pointing the finger at this point, but "from this point on" things need to change.
A few suggestions:
When I first started to notice small gradual changes in my mother and then during the Pandemic they went full blown. Right now, Mom is stable but she is going to be 85. So your going up against old age.
The first thing I did was at the beginning I would "assist" her in bill paying. By that I mean we both sit down together. However, with the Dementia I have had to take over completely. I have a simple system that works--
* Notebook ledger (not the one they give you with the checking account, too small) from the Dollar Store
*A Business Envelope with January 2023 and the person's name on it and the front reads "all debit and checking account entries". You do this for each month.
*Keep all receipts of any transaction even if you take out cash at the ATM and note what it is for and again receipts. You want a "paper trail".
*Each morning you go online and you check off what checks/debits have cleared. This way here if there are any errors you catch it right away and you simply refer to the envelope with receipts in it.
*Never mix your money with Mother's--never the (2) shall meet.
*Keep the ledger and envelopes in a desk so if siblings show up everything is there in black and white--you have nothing to hide.
You have to have authorization (the right form) to discuss everything today--health, dental, everything.
Also, what is the next step if mother outgrows the existing facility. Also, someone in your family needs to know your system, in case anything happens to you. You have to cover yourself. You need a back-up should an emergency turn up at either end.
It sounds like someone "you" need to take the reigns and have a system.
Next, go on the portal and make friends with your mother's primary care physician or the doc at the facility.
The VA also has an Aid & Attendance program. It is NOT a given but if dad was in the military during time of War there could be some assistance. Lots of paperwork.
You need to spend your time in the immediate, putting a band-aid on the finances and plugging up the hole in the dike and not spending time on siblings because Mother's care in the present moment is the priority. An Elderly Attorney could advise you and a Social Worker.
Keep good records and put the gas mask on yourself first. You will grow into the role and check out Teepa Snow videos on YouTube and Dr. Natali on YouTube.
This forum is excellent. You will learn the jargon and don't waste time fighting with siblings instead get your affairs in order. Amen!
I echo the advice to get with an elder care attorney licensed in your state. If both you and your mom are legal residents of KY as you noted; check with your State Bar Assn. Here is a locator for KY: https://www.kybar.org/search/custom.asp?id=2947
You might also contact your Area Agency on Aging for the county where you live: https://www.chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dail/Pages/aaail.aspx they may be able to refer or otherwise help you.
I assume you have a properly executed POA, that is the first question and a licensed elder care attorney in your State should review as each State law and rules are different. But most states require a POA to be signed by you, your mom, as well as witnessed and notarized; so in theory this was executed properly but that is TBD. Assuming this is a durable financial and medical POA effective upon signing (best), that POA doc allows you to act on behalf of your mom to make financial and perhaps medical decisions (some States also have specific "advanced directive" documents for medical decision-making and to act as "a medical agent" on behalf of another. Again a question for an attorney.
The attorney can also help you secure access and control over her accounts so you can actually handle things; be that bank accounts, any insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, other), Social Security and/or VA benefits, to file taxes on her behalf, etc.
You noted your mom is in an Assistive Living (AL) facility. Most AL's are private pay, so not sure who or how this is now being paid. But regardless of facility type (AL, skilled nursing home or SNF, Rehab facility, on and on) most have paperwork to be signed before they will admit the person and YOU need to be careful about what you are signing before you sign anything (another reason to get with said elder care attorney). You do not want to accidentally sign anything that says you personally agree to be financially responsible for her bills/the cost NOR to willingly "take her back." Sounds awful, but the onus on a safe discharge for her if needed should be placed on the facility and NOT you to figure it out on your own.
The admit paperwork can be 100s of pages long, and it is easy to sign and agree to something when stressed and not really understanding what one is signing. Get proper legal advice first.
The cost of paying from an attorney can and should be paid from her resources. That is a "permissible" expenditure for later qualification for Medicaid if/when needed. PS: Medicare is the Federal insurance program for those over 65 years of age (and some others under some circumstances) and Medicaid is the Federal/State shared insurance program for those "without resources." In most states, the "without resources" means total assets below $1.5K or $2K (depends on each state). AND if a person's level of care necessitates long term care aka nursing home care; Medicaid may cover that. Some State Medicaid programs have limited AL benefits. Medicare does NOT pay for long term care as a permanent placement, but only covers a limited number of days potentially as part of a hospital discharge. VA may also provide some benefits if one is a Veteran. This is an overly simplified explanation.
Another recourse -- if this is just too much to handle -- is to seek State Guardianship. In this case, the State would take over as her legal representative assuming no one else in the family is willing and able to handle this. This is a tough one as you would permanently be out of having any decision-making authority.
Two other notes: Medicaid has a 5-year look back provision, that if funds were hidden/inappropriately handled it can mess things up; your siblings may be on the hook for that? Lastly, pre-paying funeral/burial services in advance w/her $ is an allowed expense for Medicaid.
Good Luck w/this
Please go to your attorney now, as you need sound legal advice which can not be obtained on this forum. As it relates to Medicare and Medicaid advice, a google search shows Kentucky has a Department for Aging and Independent Living. No doubt their staff can provide assistance. I wish you all the best.
Do see an attorney. We will be little help with this. Many of us (myself included) have served as POA and Trustee of Trust. It is a huge job. You have to approach it slowly carefully and one step at a time. Elder Law Attorney paid "by the hour" now and at once. Slow down and deep breaths and keep a journal and spread sheets as you go.
I am sorry you're dealing with this. It's hard. I also still have a teenager at home, and been taking care of my dad for 8 years and for 18 months of that also my mom. Lucky or unlucky, I am an only child. Makes things harder because it's all on me but also don't have to deal with the sibling BS.
Also we get VA benefits. Who is signed as your mom's fiduciary with VA? Call them directly and try to see if they will talk to you. If sis messed with VA $ it is a crime. My FIL pocketed MIL's VA money that was for her nursing home care and we got them involved and they do not mess around - fiduciary was immmediately changed to my BIL, and FIL couldn't touch that money ever again. VA will take this very seriously. I get audited by them annually, so not sure how sis has gotten away with it.
Sounds like you definitely need to get several different lawyers involved in this hot mess. An elder law and criminal one. However you must be able to provide proof of any mishandling of your mothers funds by your sister.
I'm sorry you're in this mess. It doesn't sound like anything will be resolved anytime soon.
They will help untangle this mess and if they find anything that seems not right they will dig deeper and will probably send a letter to your sibling(s) requesting the information and possibly filing Financial Abuse charges if they need to.