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 Power of Attorney - long distance? 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:31 pm
Posts: 11
Post Power of Attorney - long distance?
Hi everyone. I have another legal/financial question. Just spoke to my father's lawyer to get the ball rolling on his power of attorney, living will and updating his existing will. And he brought up a few points about the financial and legal POAs. I was wondering if you've encountered similar concerns or if he's particularly conservative.

He was worried about not having someone close by as medical POA for the day-to-day stuff (which we totally understand) but when I mentioned my dad's girlfriend, he said he doesn't love to list girlfriends (rather than spouses) either for obvious reasons (what if they break up, etc.). I get it. But he has no other family close by, so I'm not sure what our other options would be. And my sister or I would absolutely need to be listed because we will be making the big decisions together like when he needs to go to an assisted living facility, etc. I am not comfortable not having one of us on that document.

And then for financial POA he was concerned about naming multiple people (in case we each want to go to the bank and do something different, for instance.) I totally understand that, but my sister and I would be the only ones named as financial POA, and we discuss every decision/action in advance. I fully trust her to be on the same page with me. I'm really not worried about the kinds of disputes that I know can come up in these situations though--we've already been through a terminal illness, planning a funeral and dissolving our mother's estate together and there were zero issues between us.

He was also very concerned about people taking advantage of my dad financially, especially as the disease progresses. POA doesn't protect if he signs the house away to someone, for instance, without really realizing what he's doing.

So has anyone in long-distance situations (or not!) had any similar concerns or any solutions with how they've dealt with these issues?

Thanks in advance, as always! You guys are great!

Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:09 pm

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 4811
Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post Re: Power of Attorney - long distance?
Yes, I do agree that the medical POA should be someone who could get to a hospital within an hour of being called. I recently reviewed end-of-life issues with my mother. I advised her to find a close friend who is in her same geographic area who could act as her healthcare POA. She identified someone whom she says is level-headed. She intends to meet with this person and review her end-of-life treatment wishes. My brother and I will both be listed as healthcare POA but further down the list. I'm sure this close friend will want to consult with my brother and me by phone but I am comforted by the fact that someone is there locally who can help my mother, if needed.

For financial POA, why doesn't your dad list you *and* your sister? Attorneys don't really like this because they think there should be one clear-cut decision-maker.

You should speak with the attorney about the competence issue as it might be best if your dad signs over POA to you and your sister now.

Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:36 pm

Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:02 pm
Posts: 386
Location: East TN
Post Re: Power of Attorney - long distance?
I have mine half way done…

Papers are drawn up….names are on them….

Attorney had me pick one child as the primary, then the next….

All my children live in different states than me….

So, it seems to be a good way…..

If all my children agree….then this works….if my primary calls the others...
If they don't all agree….the one that 'I' picked as primary….will make the decisions

If the primary can't be reached or doesn't want to act….then secondary is in the drivers seat….

This set up makes me feel better than all having to be contacted and arguing among themselves….

I want a fast decision made when it is necesary…..

Craig - Patient - Male - 56 years old - Lewy Bodies diagnosed on March 23, 2011 - cognitive disorder NOS dx 2007 - RBD REM dx 2007 issues for 20+ years - intention tremor 1974 - other issues many years

Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:39 am

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:31 pm
Posts: 11
Post Re: Power of Attorney - long distance?
Thanks for your insights Robin and Craig. I'm going to talk to my dad about his wishes, obviously, but here's what I'm thinking we should do:

- Have someone local (his girlfriend or a close friend--whoever he's comfortable with) named medical POA with my sister and I listed as secondary.
- Have only my sister and myself listed as financial POA.

And the attorney will just have to deal with multiple people because that's what's best for our family! We're definitely going to have my dad sign the durable POAs now, just to get them handled.

Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:32 am

Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:07 pm
Posts: 248
Post Re: Power of Attorney - long distance?
Hi Amanda,
We just went through this. My sister and I are named jointly for medical and financial POA - back-up for my dad, who is still cognitively intact but frail and gets stressed. I'm the one who is 5 minutes away, and she is across the country. I'm more the medical expert and she is the financial expert, but we discuss everything. The doctors tend to call me because they know me well, but I still fill her in by email or phone whenever anything new comes up.

The lawyer asked some penetrating questions about our relationship - us with my parents, and with each other - because she has seen a great deal of family stress over such arrangements. We described how we work together and my parents were also pretty reassuring, and she then felt more comfortable about it.

We also wanted to move ahead before my mom reached a point where her capacity for signing might be questioned. She is capable now of making decisions and discussing them, but who knows for how long. (Actually the lawyer and I had a nice talk on the phone about informed consent, because this is an issue in the research setting, and we have had to draw up guidelines for our research and have had them reviewed by the Institutional Review Board. My mom would meet the criteria for ability to do informed consent for research.) I really did not want to have to deal with judges and courts for this.

Good luck getting it all done - and with the lawyer...

Laurel - mother (97) diagnosed April, 2011, with LBD; died May, 2014.

Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:54 am

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:31 pm
Posts: 11
Post Re: Power of Attorney - long distance?
Thanks Laurel. I was a bit taken aback at first that the lawyer would push back at our preference to have my sister and I both named, but I do realize that in many families that can create more issues/legal complexities so they have to be wary--plus he didn't really know me from Adam!

I guess I wasn't expecting it because my husband's father drew up all of the financial and legal documents for my mother, and he knew my sister and thus never had to question, I suppose. My dad has his own lawyer in his hometown who he's comfortable with so we'll use him, but we're just going to have to push for what's right for us!

Does anyone worry about their loved one getting taken advantage of financially? I guess it's an issue for my dad because he's single and (right now) lives alone. The lawyer suggested putting my sister and I on the deed to the house (as co-owners, not with rights of survivorship) which, from past reading, I do not think I'm comfortable with. And besides we're likely going to sell my Dad's house when he moves into assisted living anyhow.

Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:53 pm

Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 3441
Location: Vermont
Post Re: Power of Attorney - long distance?
My dad put my sister and me on all of his accounts as soon as my mom died, so this was not something we had to wrestle with when he became ill, thank goodness!!! I took over as POA a few weeks before his big decline, and he was fine with that and so was my sister. She didn't want the hassle of the paperwork and she is a horrible money manager, so the shared POA was not a problem for us at all.
He turned his house over to us with his having lifetime rights to live in the house, 2 years before the big decline. That also worked for all of us, and when he died, the house became my sister's and mine. I have 2 kids and she has none, so "JT w/ rights of survivorship" doesn't make sense for us. I would want my kids to have my half of the house equity, however she is leaving her half to my kids anyway, so that will work out too. If she wants to sell the house sometime, I'd be happy to do that and we'd split the proceeds.
If my dad had lived long enough to need to go on Medicaid, hanging onto the house would have protected that amount of his assets. If he needed the $ to stay in the ALF we probably would have sold the house, as they do not take Medicaid patients.
It's different for everyone, and taking into account the requests in my dad's will helped me make decisions about financial things before he died. Interestingly, as poor as his cognition was at times, he repeatedly asked me about his finances and whether I'd distributed the $ as he wanted from his will. I had to remind him that I'd only do that AFTER he died!
Get a good lawyer who knows a lot about the laws in the state where your LO is. We had a few glitches, but overall it went pretty smoothly. Be prepared for the estate settlement to take WAY longer than you think it should, despite your best efforts. After 11 months I think I finally am seing the light at the end of the tunnel from his estate. Good luck, Lynn

Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.

Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:21 pm

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 4811
Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post Re: Power of Attorney - long distance?
I agree that joint tenancy for property is a mistake. It makes the inheritance turn into a problem, not a happy thing.

Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:33 pm

Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:28 pm
Posts: 15
Post Re: Power of Attorney - long distance?
For health care you need to be certain if it is joint, if more then one person is listed. If not only the first person listed can act as dpoa. The second person is legally not dpoa unless the first person is incapacitated. Also signing a house over to a child does not help in Medicaid situations unless it was done 5-7 years prior to the Medicaid application. Hope this is of some help!

Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:33 am

Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:35 pm
Posts: 349
Post Re: Power of Attorney - long distance?
Amanda, my husband and I worked with these documents all the time in his law practice before LBD came our way. Lawyers are going to be very conservative about these things because they have seen instances where it gets ugly and no one expected that to happen. They will try to steer you to the choice that is least likely to make you vulnerable to unexpected problems.
I suspect that the lawyer might be concerned that your dad's girlfriend could receive the deed to the house in a vulnerable moment for your dad's thinking. He would likely try to help protect family members from that possibility by his recommendation of joint ownership, which should take that issue off the table since you would be needed to sign any deed if you were a joint owner of the house.
It is correct that the first person designated as healthcare or financial POA will be the primary agent unless the wording is very specific about two people sharing that responsibility.

Another option might be for you to share primary agent of the healthcare POA jointly with the girlfriend with your sister as the secondary agent, and your sister to be the primary agent of the financial POA with you acting as the secondary agent. That would maintain family control with local flexibility in the healthcare area. It would signal to the girlfriend that you want to always be in the loop. You could ask the local atty if that would work in the community where your dad lives.
I hope you get it all worked out. God bless you!

Pat Snyder, husband John, dx LBD 2007
Author of [i]Treasures in the Darkness: Extending Early Stage of LBD...[i][/i] [url][/url]

Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:03 pm

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:31 pm
Posts: 11
Post Re: Power of Attorney - long distance?
Thanks everyone for your replies--sorry for the delay in my response! It's been so hectic I forgot to check back. Great tip about the POA wording. We will certainly need to make sure it's very specific. In the interim my Dad has decided that he'd like his sister (who lives within 1.5 hours driving) listed as primary medical with either my sister or myself as joint and the other as secondary. So I think that's going to be the best solution for us.

And I totally understand about the lawyer trying to protect us from the unforeseen circumstances. I'm just wondering if there's some other way to protect the house, and also, frankly, if it's worth worrying about too much right now because my dad has already mentioned (on his own with no prompting) thinking about needing to get the house ready to be sold in the near-to-mid future.

The house is in our hometown far away from where my sister and I now live and not close to any other relatives who would want it, so sadly we've always assumed we'd be selling it eventually anyhow. (We actually just sold my mother's house--which was 2 blocks away!—in February. With hers we had rights of survivorship.) Our timeline has probably moved up because we will almost certainly need to use all of his assets to pay for assisted living / skilled nursing in the future. :(

Anyhow, thanks as always for your advice and experiences as we wade through this process. Having just gone through a terminal illness with our mother and then handling her estate you'd think my sister and I would be experts by now (sadly... how I wish we weren't!) but there are a lot of new wrinkles with my dad's situation and with LBD.

Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:37 pm
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