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Not sure what to do - shared Power of Attorney. Long.

(26 Posts)
RivalSibling Sun 18-Nov-12 16:10:09

My only sibling and I have never really got on. Superficially it's been ok since we left home but we are not close.

Our Dad died a long time ago. Our mother has always been scrupulously 'fair' to us but there has been a lot of jealously nonetheless - perhaps because her fairness feels a bit, well, loveless? (As an example, I have often made a big fuss over her on her birthdays and Christmas and try to visit regularly, and my bro does very little and rarely goes to see her, yet on my birthday she always gives me a bit of cash and assures me it is exactly the same as she gave my brother. I really don't care about the value - I would just rather have something more personal, something for me iyswim). My brother & I have both had various issues with her over the years but we have never been able to speak to each other about it.

Now my mother is getting older and lives alone (widowed a second time). I suggested she get POA set up. However, when she set it up she insisted that my bro would also have POA, even though she didn't seem to be 100% sure about it. I was not comfortable about this but put it down to silly jealousy.

Since then my relationship with my brother has deteriorated sharply. He just doesn't seem to get what she needs and his behaviour is frankly weird. For example, she had a dizzy spell and a fall on the same day she was supposed to be having lunch with him and his family on his birthday. She managed to call an ambulance and was admitted to hospital. He just went ahead with his birthday lunch, and I only found out when I went round to give him his present later that evening - and then only after we had been chatting for about an hour did he think to mention it. I dropped everything, went to see her (200 mile round trip), got her some clean clothes and book - you know! She was in hospital for several days and was really shaken by what had happened.

He is also pretty grasping. I found out the other day that he had taken petrol money off her when he took her home after a family funeral. I had driven her to the funeral (same mileage) because I knew she was nervous about making her own way. During the funeral I heard him talking about his upcoming skiing holiday and the camera he had just bought for 3k. These are luxuries I couldn't even dream of!

Another time he organised a significant birthday party for her at my suggestion (I was expecting us to go 50/50, as we have done before when I've done the organising) which was really expensive, then made her pay every penny of the expenses herself even though she was frantically worried about the cost and asked several times to cancel it - he refused to cancel it and he wouldn't even discuss it with me. I then provided an expensive patisserie cake so that she could at least cut the meal down to two courses (which the caterers were happy for us to do) but he accepted my cake and still ordered dessert which she then had to pay for.

I know she was upset about it because she didn't invite him to a smaller gathering at her house for her local friends but he turned up anyway! This was really annoying for me because I had already arranged to be there without my children so that I could help and I spent the party in the kitchen while he enjoyed the party with his family, and then my mum felt she had to provide them with a meal before they went home even though she must have been exhausted.

I honestly don't think he is malicious - just a bit misguided, and he likes to be 'in control' - but I can't bear the idea of sharing the POA with someone who I can't communicate with and who has such different views on how to relate to our mum. It will be a disaster. There will be massive, massive arguments.

I eventually plucked up the courage to ask my mum to reconsider but although she knew what I was on about she doesn't want to upset him, doesn't want to be 'unfair'. Her fall-back position is that I'm being over-sensitive. Well, it's sensitive subject!

I just don't know what to do. I don't want to 'borrow trouble from tomorrow' but I might regret not sorting this out. I've even considered relinquishing my right to POA.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 17:27:10

I think you would be best to post this on the legal board.
Not sure if anything can ber done tbh, but they might know, or have some other legal suggestions for you.

Corygal Sun 18-Nov-12 17:33:40

Oh DEAR - you're not overreacting at all. Poor you.

Whatever you do, don't relinquish your POA as that would leave DM at the mercy of your brother. Nowadays most people get 2 POAs - one for health and one for cash. If you're worried he would neglect your mother or stint on paying her care to boost his inheritance, I suggest you get the sole financial POA and he gets the sole health one. Talk to a lawyer or AgeUK to get other practical solutions.

I would ask DM to write everything she wants down on the docs to make sure her wishes are respected. But bear in mind that if DM wants DB in charge of her life in her dotage, there's nothing much you can do.

If your DB goes ahead as the only holder of POA, and in times to come you have a lot of hard evidence DM and her finances are being abused, you can report him to the Court of Protection. But that takes 2 years, costs a fortune, and a lot of the evidence they ask for is nigh on impossible to obtain. And it won't improve family relationships.

RivalSibling Sun 18-Nov-12 17:36:53

I suppose I'm thinking of this as a 'family dynamics' thing, rather than a legal issue... but you might be right!

Corygal Sun 18-Nov-12 17:40:55

You can't have one without the other in matters of eldercare, sadly. A bit of rowing is pretty normal, as it happens, and age agencies & charities are well used to the various triggers - really do talk to them.

In this case, tho', I wd say your DB's proven lack of filial feeling and financial history with her are red flags tho'.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 18:00:10

If her DB were to have the health POA,Corygal, would he then have more legal rights say for instance, about her mums funeral arrangements? [not meaning to sound or be morbid, op, just practical].

daylily Sun 18-Nov-12 18:17:47

You need to talk to a solicitor really. I am an attorney for my Mum along with my siblings. There are two types: finance and health. I believe an POA ends on the death of the person, the executor of the will would take over. Also a POA can be more than one person who can act either jointly OR jointly and severally. The jointly and severally means you can make a decision either together or separately. We chose this so that were we in the awful situation of a hospital death bed decision any one of us could make the decision with the doctors if we had to. You may want a joint one where he couldn't make decisions without you. I will say that most agencies I come across know little about them we have just been dealing with the bank and it just seems to cause confusion!

RivalSibling Sun 18-Nov-12 18:29:32

Good ideas here. I discussed it all with the solicitor when we set it up but I was less concerned then than I am now.

I think one problem I am facing is that she doesn't share information with me as he thinks she would have to share it with him as well!

Corygal Sun 18-Nov-12 19:43:06

A million - I don't know which POA funeral arrangements come into, if at all. Thing is, you're dead by then so I don't think they'd apply - POAs are for the living - so the executor of the will usually sorts it out.

Most people leave funeral instructions with their will eg Pls can I have My Way sung by Nude Robbie Lookalikes, or the next of kin sort out choices. In terms of paying for it, the executor gets exemption for funeral costs from the bank, so that the bereaved can run a good sendoff without paying themselves.

The only other thing I know about funeral control is that the church or crematorium has right of veto over the choices - most CofE places would refuse rude songs, for instance.

Kundry Sun 18-Nov-12 20:14:05

POAs don't really have any involvement in funeral arrangements unless a POA for finance decides to spend the person's money on a pre-paid funeral. Has your mum set one up for finance, health or both?

They do have to make decisions in your best interests - their decisions can be overturned or their POA removed if they don't. For finance this is going to be obvious v quickly if there are 2 of you, you disagree and the money is disappearing. For welfare, no doctor or nurse is going to happily let a POA make bonkers decisions to the detriment of the patient - it would be challenged. They also do have to agree the decisions they make if more than one person has POA - so don't give up yours, your mum may be intending you to be a check on your brother!

You could speak to your mum about this not really being about 'fairness' to her children but naming people who would absolutely represent her wishes and best interests - however, she may not change her mind.

Also worth bearing in mind that a POA has no powers as long as the person is able to make their own decisions - not every elderly person gets dementia!

RivalSibling Sun 18-Nov-12 20:39:13

Kundry, that's a really helpful way of looking at it.

I think it is hard for her to acknowledge that there is a problem. Its her boy, after all, and she defers to men (like many women of her generation). I told her that I thought she was being unfair in expecting me to stand up to him when she has been unable to stand up to him herself, but I think she is simply hoping that he'll come good when the time comes, which he might.

RivalSibling Sat 24-Nov-12 10:06:05

Oh dear. Have had another chat with my mum about this. She is worried about her mental capacity and said she thought we would have to activate the Power of Attorney soon (actually I think this is a way off but she was having a bad day worrying about er tax return). She is resisting letting me help her with her affairs and I wonder if this is because she feels she should let my brother 'help' as well. This is really frustrating! I don't want the POA activated - I just want to help her because most times I speak to her she is upset from 'trying to sort out her paperwork'. She is worried about who to trust and whether she can trust her bank or the accountant she employed on a cousin's recommendation. This comes up at least once a week. This has been going on for about a year.

I am worried that the POA issue is part of the cause for this anxiety because she shares my concerns about my brother having control but she won't do anything about it. She eventually conceded that she basically is worried but she just keeps turning the subject to her concern that he has had a 'breakdown' (I would agree with this). At which point I said that him having a breakdown did not qualify him to handle her affairs. But then she told me 'not to tell her off'. Etc Etc.

I don't want to nag her but I feel so strongly that she needs to decide who she wants to look after her affairs, and if she has doubts about my brother she needs to sort that out. ButI think she is scared she'll upset him if she changes the POA.

I just don't know whether or how to take this further.

Kundry Sat 24-Nov-12 11:28:16

It sounds like she is very anxious and there is unlikely to be anything wrong with her mental capacity, just how anxious she is. Can I ask how old she is? It is common for depressed elderly people to think they have dementia when the problem is depression/anxiety.

I normally get fed up when people suggest going to the GP on here, but if she is so anxious that she is about to lose her capacity then a trip to the GP may well reassure her or find the real problem.

Most people don't have powers of attorney and if they do, never need to use them. Is there a reason she is so fixated on mental capacity? Has someone in her family had dementia and she is thinking about their experience? It seems to be a disproportionately big thing in her life that she is v scared off and I wonder if some reassurance would help now rather than focussing on the usefulness (or not) of your brother.

RivalSibling Sat 24-Nov-12 14:43:48

Thank you for your reply, Kundry.

I also think it is anxiety rather than dementia. She is in her early 80s. Her husband died aged 80 two years ago. One of her sisters, a few years younger, is very seriously affected by Alzheimer's so I think it does worry her, but her symptoms are nothing like her sister's. She forgets names more than she used to, tells stories over and over, and she can be a bit paranoid - like thinking a lady who used to come to her house to help her with something had stolen a small item of jewellery (which never turned up) or that the repair man had gone off with her lever arch file of 'papers' (which did turn up).

She went to the GP last year and was given ADs but she stopped taking them 'because she felt better' (maybe they were working, then?).

I try to see her regularly but it takes most of the day (180 mile round trip). I am a single parent with three teens and a FT job. But I think I'm going to have to make time.

RivalSibling Sun 03-Feb-13 10:58:25

Apologies for resurrecting an old thread - just seemed easier than repeating the whole thing!

Have just had a cathartic conversation with my mother. I feel like a prize bitch as she had to hear some stuff I have never said before. I cried for hours afterwards.

I saw my brother recently when my eldest son turned 18. I took his entire family out for a pub meal (for my sons and nephews sake, really). He enjoyed the meal and the drinks, went to the loo when it was his round (actually at the moment my SiL and I said in unison 'it's your round'), didn't support his wife when his kids were running around the pub out of control, didn't say thank you. Exactly as I predicted. Not really awful behaviour in itself but in the same pattern.

So I raised the subject again. I said I couldn't see any sense in POA being shared by two people who don't get on, and that I lived in dread of what it will be like if we have to act on her behalf for any length of time.

She held to her position that she has to be 'fair'. I told her that this wasn't about being 'fair' - it was about making a sensible decision.

And then - o glorious moment - I finally pointed out that she wasn't fair to us when we were children. From investing more in his education (did she think I wouldn't notice?) to expecting me to do household chores when he didn't do any, and a whole lot of other stuff.... all of which she acknowledged, saying that that was how she was brought up. And then I pointed out that I had always tried to be a good daughter, when he had shown no interest, and it wasn't unfair to reflect this in her planning. It is more work and responsibility for me, not more fun or more money. Basically, the situation at the moment is that she is entrusting him with the POA even though she knows its a bad idea, and that he is a bully, simply to spare his feelings.

I said it was time she stood up for me, and stopped putting me in a position where someone I don't trust has power over me.

And she says she is going to speak to the solicitor tomorrow.

Why have I spent the last 30 years protecting her from how I feel?

(I am now wondering how my brother will react).

pollypandemonium Sun 03-Feb-13 12:10:13

Hi, I have an 80 year old mother with only one male sibling left. My older brother has POA and a family friend - but I haven't actually been informed yet.

One of my Mum's main worries is paperwork - she never had to do it herself and it is completely alien to her. As a result, my DB has complete power over her money just because she forgets her pin number and gets in a tizz about paperwork. This may be a similar situation for your Mum, sometimes it's not about trust, it's about practicality. The best thing I did was got an accountant to organise her paperwork for her which means someone else is keeping a professional eye on her money. There are neighbours going in to help her with care and I have contact with her doctor. Farming as much out to others has helped her maintain her independence.

The other huge issue is sibling resentment, often caused by mothers trying to be 'fair' and in my case, not clarifying to the other sibling that they have been fair through their lives. I got a lot of unfounded resentment from all my brothers (only one left alive, sadly) they had no idea that I never took a penny off my parents, but it's not their fault - my parents made it appear that they were looking after me financially even when they weren't.

This will only sort itself out if you communicate as much as possible directly with your brother. Meet up with him, call him regularly, get him to spend time with you so that he can see you for who you really are. Be very careful of accusing him of putting his hand in your Mum's pocket. We recently went for a meal (around £300) and my DB's wife said 'we've paid'. I said 'are you sure - do you want us to put some money in' then she said - 'oh, well actually, your Mum paid'. Keep them in check, but never accuse!

Part of this is good old sexism rearing its ugly head. Men are trusted with paperwork traditionally and it's what fathers do. Women are trusted with wiping arses caring (thanks!) because they have more empathy. But both need to know that they have a huge responsibility that goes along with that and must be fully accountable - both you and him. DB is your dcs uncle, he ought to be looking out for you as well and you for him and although that is idealistic, it is probably something to work towards.

pollypandemonium Sun 03-Feb-13 12:15:33

Re-reading your last post makes me think that it is likely that you may have deep-seated resentment towards him rather than the other way round, but you have kept it contained. His mild money-grubbing is really not something I would worry about because in the end it's not important and it may be that he feels a kind of guilt that he has had the better treatment. Does he think he has had a better deal or do you think he's carrying on as before believing that he is entitled to the better deal?

pollypandemonium Sun 03-Feb-13 12:24:27

I wonder if your mother is capable of understanding how you feel - she is, after all, the perpetrator of this injustice - she must have known that things were unfair between you. Interesting in your earlier posts that you said you were always treated fairly. In the end you do what you can for your kids, but i think you have a responsibility to ensure that both parties understand why those choices were made.

Corygal Sun 03-Feb-13 13:23:20

OP - I feel for you. I suspect you are worried because you feel your DB may well, ahem, 'mismanage' your mother's finances and leave you to deal with it.

Well, whatever you did say that was hard for your mother, you did hold back from saying that, so well done - you spared her feelings. And well done for taking all the DBs family out to lunch.

As you all too keenly know, final decisions are up to your DM, unfortunately. You've said your piece - she will have to live with her choice.

RivalSibling Sun 03-Feb-13 13:42:16

pollypandemonium I have tried to see things her way and I think she thinks she has been fair, but only if you accept her benchmark. She has always been scrupulously fair about money, for example. I wanted to reflect this in my OP rather than my own resentments - probably misguided. After our conversation last night I realised that she knew she had treated us differently. I think she knows she spoiled him - she was preparing him for a life as a successful breadwinner with a doting wife like she had been to my dad, while she was preparing me for her role (Mega Fail! - I am a good mother but was never going to be that kind of wife. My boys' dad got the elbow for not treating me as an equal).

I have tried to have a good relationship with my brother but this disintegrated completely last winter over the business of the party. It was her 80th. I organised a party for her 70th and 75th. For her 70th we went halves but I did all the organising. For her 75th we rented a cottage together so we all paid our shares and I did the organising. This time I was struggling because I had just been off with stress for six weeks and felt like I couldn't take it on, but as she was recently widowed it felt more important than ever to do something. I always intended to pay half - but when we came to the event my brother refused to pay half and actually forbade me from paying half or even all of it (which I could not afford!) - because it would 'make him look bad'. My SiL told me that at one point my mother was curled up in a foetal position on the sofa begging him to cancel the party. He just ignored her and left my SiL to discuss menus with her because he thought that was more 'diplomatic'. He told me the visit was a 'success', presumably because he got his own way.

As I said above, he did nothing to reduce the cost of the party despite her pleading (eg my cake but no dessert) and contributed nothing himself. The stupid thing was that he didn't need to do anything. I suggested he might like to take the lead with organising the party because of my mental health but if he didn't want to he could have just said that he didn't feel up to it/couldn't afford it and I would have done something smaller and more manageable. I should say that money is not really the issue here - my mother and my brother both had enough and I knew I could afford half - but she was bullied into spending a lot of money and I was bullied out of doing something that I wanted to do for my mum. I take the whole incident as a warning about what happens if by brother is given the reins.

I can only think he has issues of his own with my mother. Maybe he thinks she expected too much of him. Perhaps she did. He was very high achieving at school but has not fulfilled the promise in many ways, and her parenting didn't prepare him for anything other than success. When my father died she started treating him like the man of the house, and did stuff like taking him and only him to scatter my dads ashes (I was told afterwards - and I have never really forgiven them for that), but then she married again and had grandchildren to think about (my boys) and so things changed and he wasn't top dog any more. By the time his children came along she was too old to give them the same attention she gave mine - something he has commented on.

Regarding paperwork, my mum does have help with that. Neither of us are needed for day to day stuff (yet) but it won't be long as her capacity is reducing.

I can see it must be hard for her to accept that her children don't get on. I have never assumed my boys will and actually they are (mostly) fine with each other.

RivalSibling Sun 03-Feb-13 13:45:46

Corygal I do feel horribly guilty but you are right that I have not suggested that to her.

I do entirely accept that her choices are her choices. But if she puts him in charge and it goes pear-shaped at least I will not be wishing I had said something.

Corygal Sun 03-Feb-13 14:12:13

OP, that's exactly what I mean to say. You've put a lot of effort into ensuring her security and keeping the peace within the family.

If DM and DB choose another path, so be it, you can do no more. Clearly they are firm types. And they are allowed their own relationship, masochist as yr mum seems to like it being.

In the next few years if anything really awful happens (not that I'm sugg. it might) there are loads of public safeguards in place for your DM. You never know - DB may step up if she gets much more frail.

RivalSibling Sun 03-Feb-13 14:46:38

Funny that I feel I am not keeping the peace at all - it feels like I'm stirring things up by challenging the 'order'.

pollypandemonium Sun 03-Feb-13 15:53:11

Yes that's exactly how I feel too. Challenging the 'order'. It's quite a kick in the teeth when all your life you've been taught about and fought for equality but when push comes to shove they fall back on sexist tradition.

Perhaps your mother learned from her experience with him organising the party? Why was she wanting to cancel it - because it was too expensive, or because it was too much trouble, or she wasn't in the mood? Was he forcing her to do something she didn't want?

RivalSibling Sun 03-Feb-13 16:25:53

She was in a fragile state when the idea of a party was put to her in December but we discussed what she would like to do for her birthday over Christmas and came to a decision about who to invite and where to have it. It was always in my mind 'our treat'. Then she got a big unexpected bill and she went into a complete panic - meltdown, really - and decided to cancel. This was when I twigged that my brother expected her to pay for it herself, as I couldn't see what the fuss was about until then. My brother forced the issue and she was in a terrible state right through to April when the event took place. Even a few days before she was begging him to cancel and calling me in distress because he wouldn't budge. I was begging him to either agree to pay halves, let me pay (it was a private club of which he is a senior member so not so easy for me to just step in) or agree to cancel, but he stopped talking to me and just hung up when I called. It was awful.

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