Before I wrote my book, I’ll be honest I had no idea that there was such a position as “Elder Attorney” practicing “elder law” or that anything “elder” was a specialty.
A co-worker at a school one day mentioned that she was going to see Ms. “Jenkins” an elder attorney for her aging uncle. What I asked, is an elder attorney? This co-worker knew of my trials and tribulations concerning my Mother that were mounting daily. My father had passed and my days were exhausting to say the least keeping up with Mom’s phone calls, now insurance company and doctor’s offices phone calls concerning Mom’s phone calls. I was frustrated beyond belief, stressed and had no idea what to do or whom to contact. My mother was driving me insane.
The best piece of advice, bar none, was my co-worker suggesting I contact this elder attorney. What on Earth for? Why does Mom need an elder attorney? Oh, please……..I figured what would it hurt – so I contacted her office.
Making an appointment, bringing Mom (this was HER attorney, not mine) – a whole new world of information was laid forth. I had also never heard of a DPOA-Durable Power of Attorney. Fortunately Mom was still in sound mind enough to understand, accept and sign the DPOA. Other medical paperwork and her Will were included. Ms. “Jenkins” was a compassionate, dedicated and professional elder attorney. She was amazing. She ensured with no doubt – that Mom understood the paperwork set before her before she signed any of it. (This was just after my Dad passed, Mom still had the mental capabilities during this time to completely understand the explanations of the documents she signed). I was very impressed with the thorough explanations, questions put forth to Mom, and the detail surrounding the major factors for this paperwork.
I cannot stress enough, the importance of obtaining an elder attorney for your loved one. The job of DPOA is not one to be taken lightly. All property and monies belonged to MOM as they always had, I was merely her voice and took care of her business FOR her as she would have done. I paid her bills, did her taxes, sold her house, sold her car, maintained her checking account, documented and kept meticulous records/receipts for every CENT spent of Mom’s money.
The DPOA is not free to let family or friends use the loved one *car for their daily enjoyment or travel, the loved ones *house cannot be rented out or freely offered to friends or family members, the loved ones *furniture and *belongings still belong to THEM – and cannot just be given away, the *cash/money/investments stay in the loved ones name-it is after all THEIR *money, cannot be allocated for groceries, spending money, new clothes, cash, etc. for family members or friends.
I have heard horror stories of “caregivers” letting their grown children live in the loved ones home–rent free I might add. Drive the loved ones vehicles. Take whatever furniture they choose. Be given endless supply of the loved ones cash. This is without a doubt, unacceptable. These caregivers don’t feel as though they are doing anything out of line – but I beg to differ. I voiced to these caregivers that someone needs to turn them in to be prosecuted.
Your LOVED ONE chooses their DPOA. The DPOA is not decided by the elder attorney nor it is a discussion between family member and friends to decide (between themselves) which one of them will take over. The DPOA will be discussed in detail and chosen by the LOVED ONE. This is a legal decision and my Mom’s DPOA was also filed in the Courthouse after it was notarized in her elder attorney’s office. It was now recorded.
Your LOVED ONE will choose someone who they TRUST will speak for them after they are incapacitated and no longer able to make decisions on their own. The DPOA they choose will then be responsible, legally and morally, for all decisions involving physical, mental, financial and emotional care.
I had much to learn. I am a survivor. My journey and notes are documented. Every receipt, purchase, check, deposit, payment, sale (house, car), are documented from the years I was my Mom’s DPOA. She trusted me.
I will go to my grave will a clear heart and the knowledge that I did everything in MY power as Mom’s DPOA, to have her loved, supported, comfortable, safe and protected.