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Reply with quote  #1 
My mom's mental acuity is failing and we were led to believe that her accountant was her POA for financial affairs so we asked her to enact that.  However, I just learned that I am the POA for my mother (that's what the accountant told me) but I am not sure of how to enact it?  Can anyone who has gone through this let me know what I need to do to start helping/overseeing my mom's financial affairs.  I live 120 miles from her and am not sure what I need to do?


Reply with quote  #2 
Hi seh, Different states, counties, banks, etc. are different. Some states require you to formally file the POA with the county clerk, which you might want to check on. I'm surprised the CPA didn't explain what to do. In my situation, all I had to do (and it was plenty!) was contact each of the companies with which I was going to be doing business with on my mother's behalf and give them a copy (keep the original safe!) of the POA with my address to send bills, statements, etc. Some wanted a copy of my photo ID, others just wanted the bill to go to someone who was going to pay it. And that's about it. After a few months, it all got straightened out and everything started coming to me. Unless something looks urgent and must be dealt with immediately, I set aside one morning or afternoon a week to review all my mother's stuff, pay bills, research new care options, etc.

Hope that helps some! My sympathy at what can be an emotional transition ... it was for me. But it was a relief to know that I could directly see to it that my parent was being looked after properly -- she was beginning to make a real mess of it.

Reply with quote  #3 
I can tell you what I did. In July my mom fell, and had to be put in a nursing home. A combination of the fall and dementia means she no longer can handle her affairs.

My mom's money is all in CD's in every bank all over town, so when the first CD came due, I went into the bank, with my POA papers and since my mom has a living trust and I am a trustee, the trust papers, with the account notice. I spread them out, and said I need to convert this CD to a money market so I can pay her bills at the nursing home. Paperwork done, money transferred, no problems at all. Since that first transaction, I have gone into other banks and did similar things with other accounts - at $364 dollars a day at the nursing home money goes fast!

Keep a log of everything you do and spend on her, all bills paid, etc.

So that is what I did. Do  you have a POA paper? If the accountant told you, how did he know you were POA? Does he have the paper? Do you have her will and is it with that? Mine is with the trust paper as part of the trust.

Reply with quote  #4 

there is 2 types of poa one is just medical and the other is durable poa that cover everything i have the 2nd one and i was put on her bank accounts so i could take care of all of her affairsi also have copys of the poa papers i keep copies with me so if any one ask i can show thee papers but my advice to you is to make a record of everything you do i have a medical file on everything that is done to her or for her i keep a recored of every check that is writen and for what if she is in a nursing home or assited living home tell them you want a copy of everything that is done for her medically that way if any one has a question you have the papers to cover your self

Reply with quote  #5 
Not sure how it compares to the US, but in th UK the person nominated as POA has to sign part of the POA application - partly to show they have agreed to take the responsibility and partly so that other interested parties can object if they want. It seems odd that you've been declared POA without your knowledge!
Reply with quote  #6 
Hi Sue,

One other thing I'd recommend is to make an appointment with your mother's attorney (if she has one) for a consult (it is perfectly ok to use mom's funds to pay for this).  This will accomplish several things for you:

a.  You might get some valuable information.
b.  It puts your actions as attorney-in-fact out there in case anyone questions you.
c.  Having a relationship with this attorney can be helpful if you run into problems.  It was for me.

One more point:  While you're at the attorney's, ask about filing mom's taxes.  That usually involves yet new and different forms.

Good luck,


Reply with quote  #7 
I would venture to say that for all States in the U.S., the person designated as POA has to actually SIGN the original document, along with the elderly parent, in the witness of two other witnesses, and then it is notarized.
I also elected to have the POA filed with Mom's County/State, just in case. (turns out, that was an extra precaution that was not needed).

So if you do not remember signing anything, I would be very wary of accepting that you are POA. As others have mentioned, you need the original POA document to be a true POA.

There is one possibility -- the accountant may have been designated as the main/first POA, and in the event they cannot fulfill those duties, the person listed as "secondary POA" can then do it. The secondary POA does not necessarily sign the document.

In any case, you need that original POA - not just a copy. Then you make copies for whatever you need to.

Important:  most financial and government institutions can ignore the POA if they want to. they have their own power of attorney forms, and you have to go into each place, WITH the elderly parent, and you both sign those forms in order to be POA. This happened with the Bank that my Mom had all her accounts. I was not listed on her accounts, but we went in and had me designated as POA.

That worked out fine. But as I found out later, for some reason, at the time, the bank only did Mom's Checking account and Savings account. Not her IRA or CD. So I could not do anything with those, unless I got full Guardianship of Mom, or until after she died  (!)  It is a good thing I guess, that we ended up not needing those to pay for her assisted living. If we had, I would have gone a very complicated route, or used my own money and hope to be reimbursed after she died. (which I wouldn't have, because Medicaid would have confiscated it by then).

So very important to find out about all this for yourself, and not take what the accountant says, as gospel.


Reply with quote  #8 

also, just to make it more confusing, there are different kinds of POAs.

I had full blown POA for Mom - could sell her real estate, close bank accounts, etc, (as long as the institution recognized the POA).

Other POAs are worded such that, the POA is not in effect unless the person, your parent, is totally incapacitated and cannot make decisions on their own anymore. Then I believe it takes doctor signatures to make the POA go into effect.

The one my Mom had drawn up was pretty straightforward, no caveats or rules. I used the POA while she was in hospitals and rehabs, before any dementia came into play. That was extremely useful. That is the type of POA I would recommend, it is just that you have to have full trust in your POA! to have it drawn up that way.

Also at any time, the elderly parent can revoke that POA.

Reply with quote  #9 
Just wanted to add that holding POA doesn't mean the grantor can't take back control of her affairs if she wants to, or that she can't make some decision or group of decisions w/o informing the POA.  She can also fire you on a whim.

 I had my mom's POA for years before I ever needed to use it and she did as she pleased.  When I started needing it,  nobody ever questioned the document our attorney drew up or asked for more than my driver's license as ID if I wasn't personally known to them.  It is important tho, to retain the original of the docment.  Never let it out of your custody except to be copied.  Sometimes you'll be asked for it, and it's appropriate to show it, but have a copy handy to leave with them.  Chances are, by the time you start needing to use it, your elder will no longer be competent to sign a new original, which creates a real Catch-22.

Best of luck with all this.  It's a drag, but it's really not too complicated.  The hardest thing for me was the realization that my mom really could not balance her check book.
new at this
Reply with quote  #10 
I have durable powers of attorney for both parents. The lawyer gave me one original for each parent. At a local bank, I gave them a photocopy and they were happy. I phoned a credit card company to request a billing address change. They instructed me to fax the PoA, so I did. Then Dad got a form letter saying that they require the original or a notarized certified copy.
I'm not going to send them my original and, since they're halfway across the country, I can't just stop in and show it to them.
What do I have to do - go back to the lawyer and pay for a stack of these things?
Reply with quote  #11 

If they requested a notarized certified copy, you should be able to take the original to a notary and have them make a copy and notarize it.

Kay T
Reply with quote  #12 
My parents and I live in Florida. I'm the primary POA and my sister is the secondary. Neither of us had to sign the durable POAs.

I went to every bank and gave them a copy of the POAs. My parents didn't have to sign anything. A couple banks had to forward it to their legal department before it was accepted, and a bank or two had me sign their own form stating that the POAs hadn't been revoked.

My father's former employer that provides retirement medical benefits and a pension has been a PITA. They insisted that I send them an original, which of course I will not. I don't have the time to deal with them jerking me around, so I may call my parents' attorney and have her handle it (of course at my parents' expense).

@new at this: Was the credit card Discover? I called Discover to change the billing address to my house, and I got an idiot on the phone who insisted they wouldn't accept the POA unless it was less than two years old. When I explained that my parents were no longer capable of executing a new legal document and that's the whole reason for having a DURABLE POA, the jerk told me I should have my parents declared incompetent. I demanded to speak to his superior. By that time I was so angry, I demanded the account be closed (there was no balance), and the supervisor closed it.

Lizzie42 is right that having POA doesn't prevent the elder from making decisions without informing the POA. I have that situation with my parents. They don't want to give up complete control, yet they are incapable of handling their financial affairs. As a result, they'll go to a bank and make changes, tell me about it after the fact but not remember exactly what changes they made, and then I have to go to the bank and straighten things out. I keep telling them that it makes more work for me, but they don't care.

I'm getting ready to give them an ultimatum: Either I handle everything, or I give everything back and they can handle it. The only problem with that plan is that if they want everything back, I'll only have to clean up their mess again in the future. My father is blind from macular degeneration, so my mother had been handling their finances. I took over when my mother forgot to pay the phone bill and their phone service was shut off. When I saw the mess of their check register and the numerous voided checks because my mother couldn't remember what to put in each field - she had the amount in the date field, or the date in the amount field, or the amount in the payee field - it was obvious she has no business doing it.

new at this
Reply with quote  #13 
Thank you for your responses.

The only problem with that plan is that if they want everything back, I'll only have to clean up their mess again in the future.
With bills and other things, I've been tempted to let my folks mess it up, but I know Kay T is 100% correct. Guess I'll just keep trying and adapting/adjusting as these wonderful (ahem) businesses dictate.
Reply with quote  #14 
@new at this: Was the credit card Discover? I called Discover to change the billing address to my house, and I got an idiot on the phone who insisted they wouldn't accept the POA unless it was less than two years old. 

Oh my good gravy, this happened to me with my dad's credit union!  we were trying to transfer his IRA CDs to another IRA with a different company and they threw up every roadblock imaginable.  What should have been a 2-day transaction at most took us 6 weeks to finalize, and one of the last roadblocks was their sudden decision that the POA I had sent them 6 weeks early suddenly wasn't good enough because it was more than 5 years old.  Excuse me, it's a LEGAL DOCUMENT with no expiration date.  Thank goodness we had a financial analyst with Veterans Financial who fought tooth and nail with the jerks and finally got the transfer done.  but it was weeks of frustration and stress, all unnecessary.
FedUp w MIL
Reply with quote  #15 
I can relate my experiences which involved Calif. & Nevada.  When my Dad died, I became my mother's POA (durable) and health care POA, based on her being incompetent in the opinion of two licensed physicians.  Although she had advanced Alzheimers at the time (when Dad died she couldn't even remember she had kids, resulting in a subpoena with the phone company to search records to find next of kin) her primary care physician balked at signing. Ridiculous. We hauled a notary into his office (everything had to be notarized to get the POA for functional) and then he relented and signed. 

Now, in the case of my MIL, my husband will become POA for all affairs by one physician's notiarized opinion.  And the hell of the situation is that she clearly has some type of dementia, is screwing things up right and left and should be in AL, yet we know most doctors wouldn't sign at this point as she probably isn't bad enough yet.  She would probably marginally squeak by an neuro/psych eval.  And the impending train wreck of her life looms.

So if anyone has any tips/techniques of how to get the dr to declare incompetency, I'm all ears.  Hubby does document all the oddities as best as he can.

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