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No power of attorney

(25 Posts)
KeepLeft Wed 03-Jun-15 09:52:09

I've name changed for this. My mother is in her late 80s, lives on her own, and is comfortably off. She has recently been in hospital and was very 'confused' for some time, but she recovered and is now home and seems like her old self. Lots to be thankful for. But my sister and I worry about her long-term future. She won't make out a power of attorney, doesn't see the need. My sister and I are OK financially but couldn't cover the cost of say a nursing home if she needed one, though she has enough to afford it.
What happens if she falls ill, needs expensive care and hasn't made arrangements (financial power of attorney) for anyone but her to access her money?

CMOTDibbler Wed 03-Jun-15 10:10:28

If that happened, then a guardianship order would be obtained through the court of protection.

It costs a lot more to run that POA, so its worth trying to persuade her of the need - is there someone like a vicar or family friend that she might listen to?

florentina1 Wed 03-Jun-15 10:44:30

The way we got my mum to do it was this.

We printed off all the forms and completed them as far as we could. Then we had a discussion about how awful it was when people get old and no-one listens to them. We explained that the PoAs meant that she and no-one else would get to decide how her money was spent. Also that she can specify exactly what she wanted to happen to her should she get ill, a stroke or heart attack for example. We showed her the part on the form where she can state her wishes.

Telling her that with this form, "no health official or social worker can make decisions on her behalf" helped her to clarify things.

The older generation have several reasons why they don't want the form completed. They see it a ceeding control to someone else but if you can assure her that it is not about ceeding control but keeping it by stating her wishes, she possibly might be more amenable.

KeepLeft Wed 03-Jun-15 12:22:01

CMOT, that's helpful. My scenario is her being in hospital and them wanting the bed and us needing to find a nursing home. When that happens I guess the professionals will know about the guardianship order. I guess we warn them upfront if she goes into hospital again, and consult a few homes. This time it was the elephant in the room, next time the beast gets shared.

Florentina, well done! She's had the forms for over a year, and my sister has tried to tell her it's so her wishes are met and her money is spent on her when she most needs it. But you know what? I think she enjoys seeing us in a state about it. My sister is still trying, and I will pass on your advice because you and she are more positive, but I came to the conclusion that she is not going to do one and there is nothing we can do. The law is completely on her side, though I do understand why. Her being ill made me want to find out what my sister and I need to be prepared for. It sounds unkind, but I am not going to make heroic sacrifices (cashing in my pension fund) to pay bills for her unless the law doesn't give me any choice.

KeepLeft Wed 03-Jun-15 12:29:19

PS: CMOT, I will try and think of someone for her to talk to. Someone outside the family is a really good idea. The expense will probably not wash, after all, she can't take her money with her! A horrible delay with her in limbo while the courts free up the money might get through to her. I wonder if she'd be stuck in hospital while the courts decide or if we would be forced to pay. We shouldn't be expected to take financial responsibility for someone who clearly doesn't trust us, but such things aren't always logical and bed-blocking is a real problem for hospitals

CMOTDibbler Wed 03-Jun-15 12:39:01

One thing to be aware of is that it takes at least 4 months to get a guardianship order. And if one is done, she could have all her affairs managed by someone from social services (though I presume that you or your sister are more likely). You might need to lay it on thick that she can do PoA, and know that if it is needed the people she has chosen can make decisions for her - or leave it to be decided for her.

KeepLeft Wed 03-Jun-15 12:51:34

Four months, I can't see a hospital keeping her that long, so the question of what happens and who pays until the courts sort it out remains. I would be happy with social services as attorneys - all the ones I've met are a decent hard working bunch doing a tough job. I suggested using a solicitor if she didn't trust us but that didn't get anywhere. I've reached the point where I would be uncomfortable being an attorney for her, though if she changes her mind and starts to think a PoA is a good idea, I'll do it if she wants me to, I wouldn't want to leave my sister in the lurch. Sad state to be in all round.

whataboutbob Wed 03-Jun-15 12:56:27

Keep left- to put your mind at rest, the law cannot force a 1st degree relative to pay for someone's care (unless of course they have joint accounts/ property in common).
I work in hospitals and it is not unknown for elderly persons to be unable to return home after a hospital stay, and no relatives step forward to organise their move to residential care. In that case social workers have the power to identify suitable a residential home and to access the person's funds to pay, if say the person has lost capacity.
It is not ideal of course and having power of attorney will make things a lot easier for you, by avoiding the costs and complications of the COP as CMOT has said. I'm sorry if your mum is enjoying not handing over this power to you and your sister. At the end of the day if anything were to happen the choice is between her daughters taking care of things, or a professional who does not know her.
My Dad had to be reassured that the POA did not take any powers away from him, it gave me some "just in case". He finally signed.

florentina1 Wed 03-Jun-15 12:57:32

You will not have to fund her care even if she did not have money. The Elderly Care Team will do a a financial assessment when the time comes. My own experience has been very positive, in this regard. Mother in a home and step father receiving carers. I have no idea why the elderly delight in tormenting those of us who are trying to,do our best for them.

I hope this had reassured you.

florentina1 Wed 03-Jun-15 13:03:58

Also, I cannot speak for every Local Authority, but in our area, if an Elder is due for discharge from hospital, and the OT states that home transfer is unsafe, respite care is arranged.

It is 6 weeks where I live and it was free. When my mum was discharged she went to a tempory placement for respite. She settled so well there, that she is still there 4 years later.

KeepLeft Wed 03-Jun-15 13:19:12

Whatabout, Florentina, thank you loads and loads for the reassurances and explaining what happens. If I hadn't been so proud/scared I'd have asked the hospital when it looked like she might not recover fully, but to them we were a close family. Now she's home the old habits have kicked in and I started to worry about next time. Thanks for rescuing me from the pit.

"I have no idea why the elderly delight in tormenting those of us who are trying to,do our best for them."
Ah - that made me smile, at last. Just so! My sister is a sweet, caring soul without an ounce of malice in her too.

namechange0dq8 Wed 03-Jun-15 13:28:36

Guardianship orders are horrendous to run. My parents had to get one for my maternal grandmother and, even in the more trusting world of twenty five years ago, it was extremely hard work. My father is an extremely competent man, but he reckoned that had he not by that stage only been working part time he would have struggled to find the time to do the work involved, particularly the returns.

My parents' immediate reaction, then in their late fifties, was to drawn up PoAs to spare my brother and I any risk of the same thing happening.

We put up a concerted front to our in-laws some years later and said that if they refused to draw up a PoA (we didn't care in whose name) we would take that as a full expression of their wishes and would therefore see it as against their intentions for us to later obtain a guardianship, whatever happened. The consequences, in other words, of not having a PoA if it came to it would be theirs, or someone else's, but not ours.

In the event, it was one of my in-laws who needed a power of attorney first and it would have been an appalling situation had it not been available to use. I do know a few people who are running their parents' affairs under guardianships and it is extremely hard work. If I had sat down with someone, discussed a PoA and they had refused to do it, I would have no compunction in leaving them to their own devices rather than operate a guardianship.

I came to the conclusion that she is not going to do one and there is nothing we can do.

But if she becomes incapable of managing her own affairs, you are under no obligation to intervene. Bad decisions have bad outcomes, and you're not obligated to pick up the pieces.

whataboutbob Wed 03-Jun-15 13:30:39

One useful person in this kind of situation is the discharge nurse. Not all wards have them but it's their job to ensure safe discharges (a legal requirement upon hospitals). They should be able to explain anything you need to know, if the situation arises again. Thye are non judgemental and have seen all kinds of families and scenarios.

whataboutbob Wed 03-Jun-15 13:37:24

I also like what nameganged has said. Sometimes you have to protect yourself and not feel guilty.
Because dementia was a lot less common than it is now, my theory is a lot of people who are currently elderly have no experience of the sheer stress and logistical difficulties of taking someone's life over. I will certainly be doing a POA in favour of my kids, when they are grown up and I am satisfied they are responsible.

KeepLeft Wed 03-Jun-15 13:49:31

Thanks again whatabout, I'll know who to approach.

namechange, "we would take that as a full expression of their wishes and would therefore see it as against their intentions for us to later obtain a guardianship, whatever happened." That is another really really good idea. although I would hopefully amend that in our case to be 'we will leave social services to obtain...'. At least I think from what's above that we could leave responsibility with them.

At present her answer to everything is 'but I got better didn't I'. I can't help but admire her gall.

florentina1 Wed 03-Jun-15 15:05:37

On the subject of who to approach. I was reluctant to talk to the nurses as they were so busy. I found AGE UK very helpful. Both on the phone and with all their leaflets.

KeepLeft Wed 03-Jun-15 15:20:57

Oh yes, good suggestions. Lovely mumsnetters

namechange0dq8 Wed 03-Jun-15 15:32:42

Can I add another point, which probably "outs" me, but I think is worthwhile.

You should always, always, always read every last detail of the PoA you are accepting as an attorney, at the point at which you sign it (usually when it's made).

After my parents sold my grandmother's house via a court of protection guardianship to fund her care, my great aunt took the huff and (so far as we can tell) drew up a PoA in her sons' favour. A valid PoA pretty much forestalls any attempt to get a CoP guardianship (there are exceptions, but they are difficult). Unfortunately, this PoA contains a clause which forbids my cousins from selling or letting my great aunt's house (she, apparently, thought my parents had "stolen" my grandmother's house, although accounts vary).

Said great aunt is now in long-term residential care with advanced dementia, and my cousins are left with a house which they don't have the money to insure or maintain but cannot sell, while the council are aggressive about why there's a large asset not being used, not generating an income, and yet the council are paying for living costs. It is apparently possible in these situations to go to the court of protection and get a fresh set of legal powers, but that is expensive, difficult and time-consuming.

In her failed and doomed attempt to "protect" her son's inheritance, she's leaving them massive legal and financial problems and a house that will have to be auctioned at demolition value. Someone should have sat her down and made the position clear at the time.

KeepLeft Wed 03-Jun-15 16:00:11

That is awful, but thank you for sharing it. I am more and more inclined that we should leave the whole thing to the professionals. We are not, despite what our mother might think, after her money, but neither are we in a position to handle that kind of stress.

"Someone should have sat her down and made the position clear at the time"
The trouble is, they sometimes won't be told. Reasoning has got us nowhere. The law sets out to protect them but sometimes it does exactly the opposite.

Needmoresleep Thu 04-Jun-15 14:50:51


Your statement

"I think she enjoys seeing us in a state about it" probably says it all.

At various stages through the process you will find the need to detatch. With age our mothers have few things they can control, but they can still push emotional buttons with their family.

I think you and your sister either need to be blunt with her, or you need to find someone she trusts who is.


1. If she does not give you POA, then someone else, who she does not know will be making decisions on her behalf. They might put her in a home earlier because this would be easier. They may not take as much care in selecting it, perhaps gong for the cheapest. They might not get full value from selling her house etc.

2. It will take months to sort out. In the meantime poor decision may be made. The Local Authority will effectively have to advance her money. This will cost. If a solicitor is appointed she can expect to be paying over £100 per hour for work done.

3. If you take on POA you have a statutory duty to act in her best interests. Not doing so can be a criminal offence.

4. POAs only act where she does not have capacity. It is there in reserve. In the short term she carries on as before. If she feels this is not happening, she can complain to the OPG...and get you locked up!

5. If she does not allow you access to her funds at a time when she may need it, eg to ensure she has good quality convalescent care or private treatment (physio?) you cannot subsidise her. I was clear. I was happy to support my mother, but I was not having my family out of pocket, where my mother had plenty. The clincher for her was that the idea that my husband might become resentful. She somehow feels that I need his permission to suppoert her. And indeed he gets the credit, not me, for what we do.

6. You would find it very difficult as family for major health and welfare decisions to be made by strangers with no input from you.

In short, this is her decision. But she needs to be aware of the consequences, which is that inaction means she is deciding to place responsibility for her future well-being with the Local Authority and not with her family, and that you won't, legally, be able to influence or intervene.

To be honest the POA side is pretty straight forward once you are on top of it. I do almost everything from home via internet banking and all my mums post comes to me. I think she has now forgotten that it happens.

What would be awful would be trying to control things I do not have control over. So I hire the carers and so can work with them on the care plan. What is really nice now is that I also employ one of the former carers, who established a great rapport, to take her out twice a week, and do thing like get her into the shower or buy new clothes, which the normal carers can't always manage, and which previously I was having to do - from 150 miles away. Without POA and access to her money I would not be able to do this, and the quality of her life would be less good. If my mother had not trusted me with her money and had failed to agree POA (it took three years to pursuade her, and to be honest we grabbed her when she was in hospital and still pretty shaken) I would been less willing to fill in gaps. At least now, I can solve problems and have been given, and accepted, a responsibility. If this had not happened, and for my own self preservation, I would have kept my distance from the days to day stuff and simply made social visits.

In the short term you might suggest an account for rainy day money which has you as third party signature. Say you need quite a lot in there as it will be months before Social Services would have got court permisison to run her affairs.

If there is quite a lot of money and quite a lot of work (as in my mums case) it is worth ensuring you can not only reclaim expenses but also charge a reasonable amount for your time.

OnGoldenPond Thu 04-Jun-15 17:21:56

I'm currently in process of obtaining Court of Protection order for Dad. Definitely more complicated and expensive than POA. Unfortunately was living in Spain when diagnosed with Parkinson's and couldn't navigate Spanish legal system. hmm

Happily, having seen the problems it is causing Mum is getting a POA set up now smile

mamadoc Wed 10-Jun-15 21:43:01

Would she maybe agree to see a solicitor about it with you not there?

In my job I wind up advising on these issues all the time.
I always tell any older person that they should make one and especially if any confusion is setting in sooner rather than later. As others have said CoP exists but is a nightmare.

Usually if they are reluctant it's about 'someone else getting their hands on my cash'. Number 2 reason is too much hassle/ expense, can't see the need.

I always spell it out that:

1. There is no other legal way to access your money for your benefit to pay your bills etc if you don't make one and can't manage your own money. The bank will not be ok with 'my daughter is just helping me out.' It will require a court order which will be lengthy and expensive and you will incur debts.

2. The attorney can't actually touch your money until the LPA is registered which happens when you lose capacity and not before. You will be notified if it is registered so they can't do it behind your back.

Often they will make one if they are reassured it's not immediately giving up all control and they see the importance.

If she still refuses then you've tried and you'll just have to leave it.

You definitely will never be liable for her care bills
She won't be stuck in hospital either. Hospitals get this all the time and there are ways of dealing with it. Discharge planning will arrange a placement and the social worker sorts out the money afterwards. Basically she just runs up a debt that gets paid back when the court guardianship is in place and funds are accessed or property sold etc.
The only time it's a problem is if it drags on for an outrageously long time.

The big downside for her is that she is ceding control to Drs and social workers rather than her own family. If you have LPA and she has private funds you can pick a care home of your choice and you know what her priorities would be. If there is no LPA and discharge planning/ social care place her they will go for the cheapest and most quickly available place and her preference won't really enter into it.

I guess the trick is to get her to see that it is not a loss of control to make an LPA in fact it is extending your control. When the LPA is enacted it means you lack capacity and by definition you have already lost control its just whether you prefer to exercise a choice over who is making decisions on your behalf or leave it to chance.

If she actually does not want it to be a family member she can always appoint a solicitor to be her Attorney but the problem is they will charge for doing it of course.

ginmakesitallok Wed 10-Jun-15 21:47:40

Everyone should arrange a poa, not just the elderly! My mum sorted hers out years ago and I'm considering doing one soon too. Makes life so much easier if something happens and you lose capacity.

Sunny67 Thu 18-Jun-15 11:54:16

I'm having the same problems with dad and dsm, both have alzheimers. Wet talked about it after dad was diagnosed and he just said he wanted ne to sort things. Dsm just says things like I know what it is and what it is for, but wont move to getting it done. I did have a solicitors appointment booked at one point but she then changed her mind so I gave up. The social worker I've dealt with thought I had it and has told me the nightmare of not having them but how far can I push? Their house their money, I only want to be able to get the best care for them when it is needed, nothing else. My step brothers aren't too keen on pushing either one doesn't want to have POA for himself but is fine for me to have i but we still haven't managed to convince her. I might get her to read this thread>

Needmoresleep Thu 18-Jun-15 13:12:32

You really don't need solicitors. As long as nearest relatives are in agreement that you take it on (and they should be) get the form completed. Make sure it allows for you to recharge expenses, just in case you need to. Then speak to her GP, or similar - we used the priest - and make an appointment. Have them primed to say something similar to Mamadoc. She signs, they witness. Then done. She carries on as before, but you can intervene as needed. For example I set up a mail redirect as part of a way of preventing some on-going fraud - she was giving away her bank details over the phone. I simply stick non finance letters in her letter box. She did wonder for a while, but now has forgotten. If she is not vulnerable financially you can use the POA to set up internet banking and get your own cheque book so you can take over if she is incapacitated.

To be very honest, people in the early stages of dementia may not have a problem with something but find it very hard to make decisions, and often forget some of the arguments so dont carry through. Someone she trusts like a doctor or priest will have her best interests in mind but may not feel as obliged to spell out all the pros and cons. Our parents are vulnerable. They will end up relying on someone. If you know you will act in her best interests, then make sure it is you.

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