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Help me prep to take over Mom’s care
My Dad has been my mom’s primary caregiver. We live a 9 to 11 hr drive apart; I aim to get over there to visit, check up on them, and give my dad a break every 6-10 weeks or so. I have a 3 year old so I am not a huge help, but I can provide a bit of a break.
My concern now is that if something happens to him, I will be starting from scratch in taking over her care, so I’m asking him to help me prep for that eventuality (encouraged by a friend who lost both her parents last year and had to find all this info with no help).
He has already set up power of attorney.
I have asked him to send me a list of contacts, accounts and passwords (if online):
I would love to hear other suggestions from you all about what other information I need or how else I can prep if I need to take over her care.
Thanks for being here.
You are wise to plan ahead. Add retirement accounts, Social Security, and pension plans to the list of accounts. Your father should ask the attorney to execute multiple copies of the POAs, like 5 or more. You keep 2 originals, your dad keeps 2, and the attorney keeps 1. Ask your parents to fill out new HIPPA forms with each of their doctors, authorizing you to receive their medical information. Dad can also have a master Health Care POA completed by the attorney. Don't forget Living Wills for each of them.
I have to warn you: even when presented with original copies of POA documents that had been drawn up by an attorney, most of my mother's financial institutions refused to grant me access until their own company-specific forms had been completed and internally approved. In several instances I would follow company procedures to a tee, but then be told the paperwork was wrong or not received. It took me over a year to get it all straightened out. For 2 companies I had to drag my obviously impaired mother to a branch office for a prearranged face to face meeting with a manager.
I would therefore recommend, in addition to having POA for each of your parents, that your father contact every single company he does business with in order to add you as an authorized account manager or designated POA. To ease your father's burden, you can make the initial calls to the companies yourself and ask for the proper forms and procedures. Keep a log of every person you talk to, the instructions you are given, the addresses and fax numbers where documents are sent, etc. If at all possible, you and your father should deliver the forms in person during your next visit, and leave with the business card of the person to whom the forms were entrusted. Follow up with a phone call to make sure it was processed.
Check out what it would take to sell their home if that had to happen to pay for her care. Next visit find a real estate person, do it quielty if you need to, but have someone ready, Get copy of deeds or whatever the broker says you may need.
If she has official diagnosis, get a copy of that letter, and who has DPOA set up? That will need to be triggered for YOU if/when you take over. And that takes that letter. And everyone one will want a copy of it!
If they bank locally, and you are to be added to account or whatever, often they want you to go in person. So next visit, go to the bank. If its a bank that is not in your area, try and set up a small account now in both your names. See what they have auto paid and auto deposited. Many SS checks are auto, great, but trying to change to another bank, nightmare, so find away you can transfer or access funds to pay for caregivers etc.
danis, great planning and Cody is spot on regarding the banks. I did take my mom in along with my POA papers so we could make her checking account "officially" available to me. I had been doling everything for her online behind the scenes. Even with my mom there, it was the WORST 3 hours and in the end, they actually messed up and took my POD designation off the account. I had no idea since I was so stressed sitting with my mom who was around stage 4 at the time. It was like taking a toddler to the bank.
In retrospect, I would say it would have been best to have one joint account and perhaps leave the others under her name only. For some reason, I was nervous if I ever was sued, someone could get at her money so I left her as the primary account holder. I suffered a lot for trying to make this account "honest," and in the end it took about 2 months for me to close the account and get my money after she passed. This bank locked up her other account where I was POD (payable on death) and left me struggling as they wouldn't let me near the account where I was POA regardless of showing them her will, our estate papers, etc.
For everyone out there... POA is gone the moment your LO passes. This bank was trying to get me to have to probate my mom's account. This was the last thing my mom wanted since she set up her estate (before dementia) so everything would pass directly to me without probate. Oh well, fighting with this bank, and I did end up getting my money, gave me an outlet for my frustrations after mom passed. It wasn't easy, but hopefully someone else can learn from my experience.
I'm compiling this list of suggestions to discuss with my dad, and I have a follow-up question on bank accounts:
Am I understanding correctly that the recommendation is to have just one joint bank account with my dad at their bank? (It's a credit union, so it is very local to them, but there is online banking, of course.) Is there any reason not to be added to all his/their financial accounts?
My mom has cancer, and our family relationship has no complications and full trust.
She added me to her credit card as an authorized user, and also added me to all her deposit accounts so I can write checks, log on, etc. When she dies, the money is mine (I'll split it with my sister) since I'm on the account. Pretty easy. Banks are a real pain when you want to use POA - easier to be on the account.
My husband cancelled his mom's credit cards, froze her credit (great idea for your parents, btw) and opened one in his name with her as an authorized user, for her to use for occasional purchases (she has MCI and still goes out by herself from AL). This makes monitoring it much easier AND if there are any problems, he can cancel it immediately. Arrangements like this make sense if family members trust each other and there are no other family members who will have a problem with it.
One thing I found out the hard way: PAYING the bills is easy because companies will happily accept money from any Tom Dick or Harry. What they will NOT do is allow you to CANCEL an account and DISCONTINUE auto-payments without jumping through 80 hoops, nor will they reimburse you for improper payments without a fight. This is probably one reason why accounts are frozen upon death. I experienced that with Travelers Insurance - they claimed an account was not properly cancelled even after I followed cancellation instructions very precisely and had documentation to prove it. Cable and telephone companies can be the same way.
IMHO, automatic bill payments are better off being processed through a credit card rather than auto-debit straight out of your bank account. Using the credit card gives you more time to catch errors before the funds are out of your account, and procedures to contest a charge are pretty straight forward. AmEx is better than Visa.
Discourage your father from leasing a car because many of those contracts require the lease payments to be made in full after death.
You are so, so wise to plan ahead.
CodyW and Rockym's experiences are the same as mine - the bank, and some other entities have internal forms that they require in order to honor the POA. I've also had to bring along my sister to get this done. She's still early-ish with her AD, and still able to make her wishes known.
She took early retirement a few years ago, and she has a pension (a rarity, I know). One of the things I'm doing with that is setting up a special needs trust for her (meeting with a lawyer next week). That way, if something happens to me, there will still be a flow of money where there needs to be. If there is a pension involved for you, you might want to look into what to do with that.
Hiring an elder care attorney was one of the best things I did (just completed transfer of my mom's dPOA from my sister to me) her will, and advanced health care directive.
It sounds like you're well ahead of where we were with my parents, great job! I wish we would have done it before my dad had passed away. We were scrambling to find all of his important papers after, and some of his passwords were never found.
With mom, her wishes are known, and all will hopefully go more smoothly.
danis, since you are assisting your father, with the idea that you may have to jump in at any time, yes... I would say a joint account with your dad would be great. I don't know if you are handling their finances now, but with a joint account YOU have control and if and when he passes, you are set to use that money to take care of your mom. Do you have any siblings and what stage is your mom as now? These questions might make a difference in what you do and how quickly you have to do it.
If your parents have other accounts, make sure you are the beneficiary or as some banks designate it POD (payable on death). Your father will have to do this, if he hasn't already. This is obviously preparing for when both pass. With a POD, accounts avoid probate and as long as you have a death certificate, you can retrieve the money. This would be on any accounts where you aren't joint.
I think the best thing is to have a joint checking and if they have a savings you can either be a joint or as I did, just link those accounts online so you can transfer $$ to a checking to pay whatever bills needed and you can leave those other accounts alone. Some of these decisions has to do with the size of those accounts. This is your answer as to being added to just one or to all. My mom had a comfortable estate and that is why I didn't want to be joint on everything of hers. First, it would have been a lot of work because she would have to go to the bank with me for all of these accounts to be changed and second, I was always concerned that someone could go after her money if they wanted to sue me.
Not that I go around waiting to be sued, but I always had a fear that let's say someone was hurt in one of my cars that was being driven by one of my kids and then maxed out my insurance in a claim, they could then come after my $$ and if mom's $$ was in that I was making her accounts venerable. How's that for thinking ahead? Crazy, but handling someone else's finances takes planning and like everyone has said, great you are planning now.
Become a respresentative payee for BOTH Mom and Dad. A PIA to get later.....get the forms, and have them sign and complete.
Find a Certified Elder Law Attorney at www.nelf.org. Go with Dad. Even if you have wills, poa, etc. Long term care planning.
Visit a nursing home and memory care near you - visit many. Pick your first and second choice. If you have an option that has both MC and snf, good route.
Have Dad put you on as co owner of one of the checking accounts NOW. your name doesn't have to go on the checks, just the account. Let's you easily write checks without needing a POA designation. Useful for when they are dead to still pay bills. POA's freeze upon death you cannot access $$.
In addition to being added to all of your parents accounts (trust me, there is no downside for anyone to do this.). Find out if your parents have a safe deposit box at some bank. You and your father will have to go to that specific bank to get added to it. I made the mistake of waiting and was not allowed to pay the rental on my dad's safety deposit box despite having POA and being joint on all of my father's bank accounts. My dad has dementia (late stage 6), is in a wheelchair, cannot walk and is doubly incontinent. I had to hire a caregiver to assist me with then wheelchair and drive dad to the city where his safe deposit box is in order to get me added onto it - a 5 hour ordeal which was exhausting for him. The bank said there was no other way for me to be able to pay the rental fee for the box even after I explained the situation to them and the bank said that if I didn't pay the rental fee, then they were going to drill the box, remove the contents to somewhere else and I'd have to try to claim it after my father died using my executrix letters testamentary which could be years.
Find out about your parents life insurance accounts and investments as well.