Can you take control of a parents financial affairs?

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  • Can you take control of a parents financial affairs?
  • My wife lost her dad a couple of months ago and her mother is really not coping well.

    Her dad did pretty much all the financials in the household and her mum isn’t getting things like probate, wills and all his old pensions sorted after the death. My wife has told her many times she will book a few days off and help her – but she’s a stubborn old cuss and won’t accept help. She just says she’ll see the solicitor on her own, but when we ask if she has got X or Y sorted she just clams up and won’t give a straight answer.

    We just know she won’t get it sorted properly, and she will miss something important.

    She had tests at the doctors a few months ago to assess early signs of dementia – but the doc said it was borderline. But there are things you just know aren’t right in her behaviour.

    She’s got a bloody great boxer dog too – that she would insist on having after her previous one died a few years ago. It’s a 4 yr old dog that needs lots of exercise and isn’t getting it now.

    So is there anything my wife can do?

    Premier Icon tomhoward
    Subscriber

    this Is what power of attorney is for. Not sure of the process though.

    Unless she gets her Mum to grant her Power of Attorney, then probably not much you can do other than walk the dog and offer advice.

    nickjb
    Member

    Try and arrange power of attorney as soon as possible. You don’t have to actually take any power at this stage but it gives you the option, hopefully that option will help convince her that it is sensible. Also maybe just be a bit more forceful with the help. “I’m coming round next Tuesday to look at that paperwork with you” rather than “Would you like me to come round sometime to look at that paperwork with you”

    We’ve broached Power of Attorney with her a few times but she just dismisses it outright and says “I’ve not lost my bloody marbles yet”. She doesn’t seem to see the need that if she ends up in hospital no one can help her pay bills or help in any way. And she fell while out with the dog the other day and ended up in pain and with bruising.

    She’s not a frail woman (think French and Saunders old ladies!) – but she seems to be shutting down.

    She used to argue like mad with her husband – and I don’t think she thought she would miss him as much as she is doing.

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Subscriber

    someone will be along to confirm but, from experience rather than knowledge, you can be given it by your parent, you can’t take it and you need several other “interested parties” [read people who could contest the will] to sign off on it.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    Yeah not a whole lot you can do if she won’t grant Power of Attorney (which seems unlikely if she won’t even accept some help). It’s a lot of form-filling (just gone through this with a couple of relatives, them wanting to be prepared rather than it being needed now). I guess there must be a way through courts etc. to do it without consent but I doubt (if it were possible) it would apply in your situation if she’s only showing early signs of dementia (not that I have a clue what I’m talking about…)

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Subscriber

    The other option to her giving you POA is that someone else decides she doesn’t have mental capacity, and the courts appoint an accountant or similar to make decisions for her.

    http://www.rethink.org/living-with-mental-illness/mental-health-laws/mental-capacity

    she might not want you taking control, but she might prefer it to a random other.

    Premier Icon jimdubleyou
    Subscriber

    She (MiL) doesn’t have to be the only executor of your FiL’s will. You don’t need PoA to help out with that stuff.

    I would just go and visit for a week and get it done. Having somebody around after the loss of a parent / spouse is helpful. Even if it’s just to make you a cup of tea or to cajole you into doing something that needs doing…

    Why not suggest a reciprocal arrangement where she grants your wife  PoA over her affairs and your wife  grant her Mum  PoA over hers?

    That might stop her feeling as if you’re trying to take control away from her and make her see that you’re actually  trying to help each other out?

    Edit : Assuming that  she is just a stubborn old dear who is currently not coping very well due to her loss rather than actually  being of diminished mental capacity, in which case this would be a terrible idea.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Subscriber

    I *think* the court of protection can appoint a family member as a deputy (see link) but I *think* they prefer to select a “professional” to get a certain level of competence, and when there’s more than one family member involved, to protect against conflict of interest.

    poolman
    Member

    Oh dear this was me 2 years ago.  I got the accounts, utilities, car etc but not bank, in joint names so i can change things.  Bank i just accompany my mother on visits.

    You really have to tread carefully to get anything done.  Make sure you are claiming  all benefits you are entitled to.

    Also, look at all statements as confused people are vulnerable to fraud, answer the landline to check who is calling, look at post etc.

    Good luck you will get there.

    fasthaggis
    Member

    What nickjb said .

    Going through this process just now with the inlaws who both have extra health concerns .

    At times it’s like having small children again,so we are putting as much in place as possible now,so that they can stay in their own home for longer.

    As above, try and find all the paper and digital contact for the financial records and get them up to date.

    At the end of the day you just want to know that she is safe and it will make looking after her a bit easier in the future.

    It’s hard work,good luck.

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    My parents have signed/agreed to a document that gives PoA to me under/after certain circumstances. It was a government produced standard document, that was signed, countersigned and witnessed. Perhaps point out to MiL that these things need to be done in advance regardless and that she’s not giving up control at the moment.

    Murray
    Member

    My mum used to be a social worker and did lots of work with old people. She made sure my brother and I had Lasting Power of Attorney having seen the trouble not having it causes.

    Premier Icon JasonDS
    Subscriber

    Lasting Powers can be done fairly easily online: https://www.lastingpowerofattorney.service.gov.uk/home – it’s fairly straightforward, if you can talk her around.

    AdamW
    Member

    It could also be the act of letting go of her husband’s memory.

    When my dad died in 1982 my mam kept his name on the electricity bill for about 20 years.  She couldn’t bear to let him go.

    LPA is the way to go, but if she won’t do it then you’ll have to leave her be, unless she’s in way of harm.

    mariner
    Member

    There are two levels of POA. One just does the day to day stuff like banking and paying bills. The other is required to run any investments for the person.

    We were informed by H&L that they could no longer accept instructions granted under POA without the enhanced/specific POA to make changes to an investment portfolio.

    POA and COP are both useless anyway just a revenue generating system for the Westminster government. It will cost me £450 to activate if needed.

    TiRed
    Member

    “I’ve not lost my bloody marbles yet”

    You won’t get LPA when she does – and then the fun will really start. My FiL granted it to my MiL and his two daughters after a stroke. It’s not used, but when needed it can be. Be gentle, and explain that you would like to help with the stress she is going through.

    Premier Icon kcal
    Subscriber

    get it done as soon as you can, lasting and caring – two kinds of PofA from memory.

    Luckily my folks got it done, though there was a hiccup as my dad had had a stroke so it was difficult to get the of sound mind bit signed off – just confusion.

    It worked wonders, but they knew what they were doing, it spurred me to get it done for myself and spouse.

    somouk
    Member

    As above, get PoA done as soon as possible and make sure it covers both financial and medical affairs.

    My family found out recently that it didn’t traditionally cover medical issues and only financial which caused us some issues.

    fossy
    Member

    We got it for the MIL when FIL died – similar situation, but she is physically disabled, but wanted nothing to do with bills/pension etc.

    We filled the forms in and got witnesses etc. Saved the legal fees for the MIL. Still took a while to switch bills over, and we even had to sort out pension etc. There is one ‘number’ you can call that gets various HMRC things cancelled, and the MIL’s pension adjusted.

    MIL takes absolutely no responsibility – she refuses to do. My wife manages her finances, and her sister manages the health care.  Not an easy situation as she is sound of mind, but won’t get involved. Quite happy for us all to run round and manage her life, which can be stressful.

    You need LPA before someone is not sound of mind.  We also have the one for care as well as finances.

    fossy
    Member

    You are going to have to work on her slowly.   My MIL is very stubborn, but literally said ‘you sort it’ as she hadn’t had to do it before.

    We do get silly stuff, like a phone call to get her a glass of water late at night, when there is bottled drinks next to her – she won’t accept that that is ‘unreasonable’. She then phones round the family until she finds someone that will come out and get her a drink. Same with heating not quite at right temperature, window open (in high summer) TV, you name it.

    You may have some trouble with bills at first as we still found we had to get the MIL on the phone to agree with the companies that you could handle the account.

    Premier Icon Greybeard
    Subscriber

    Regarding “I’ve not lost my marbles yet”, any Lasting Power of Attorney would have to be set up while she still has “mental capacity”, but it wouldn’t necessarily come into effect until she did lose it.

    There are two kinds of LPA (in England & Wales). A Health and Welfare LPA cannot be used until/unless the donor loses mental capacity, while with a Property and Finance LPA the donor can choose whether it can be used while they have mental capacity, or afterwards.

    It’s straightforward to do, and doesn’t need a solicitor provided she has somebody she’s known for 2 years that’s not family and can certify that she understands what she’s doing and isn’t under pressure.

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