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Will and Power of Attorney dilemma. WWYD?

Started by Lillycache, June 14, 2012, 05:43:00 am

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When my DH and I made out or Wills and Powers of Attorney for both Healthcare and finances, we, of course made each other Executors and POAs for each other.   However, you have to have a contingent POA in case your primary choice is not able to carry out the duty.   Having only 2 sons, no siblings or nieces or nephews, I selected my younger son rather that my oldest unmarried boy.  I did this primarily because my YDSs wife, my DIL held a degree in finance and has worked as a financial consultant and banker. I figured she would be able to make the best decisions for me.

It has recently been brought to my attention that my DIL has been joking and laughing in an online group about how she will have this power over me and since her DH (my son) couldn't make a single decision, she will take delight in picking out the most horrible nursing home or care she could find!!!   I am not what I consider wealthy, but I have worked hard for 40 years to put away what I feel will be a comfortable retirement.  I have done without many extras to sock it away for this eventuality.  NOW I find out that she will do whatever she can to ensure they get my money and I suffer.   I am beyond angry and beyond hurt.  I didn't know how much hate and contempt this young woman has for me.

So here is my dilemma...  Should I just leave things as they are and know that my husband is my POA and will be in charge, and if anything happens to him make sure I change my contingent POA to my older son?  (who is not all that responsible even now at his age)  And hope that HE will make good  and thoughtful decisions for me?   Should I keep my younger son as POA dispite his wifes threats and hope that HE will over-ride her if she tries to hurt me?   One of my biggest fears is that I will die alone in horrible and less than dignified conditions, warehoused away in a dump.  She really hit a chord here.  Should I let my younger son know my fears and what she has threatened?   WWYD?


Wow, what an idiot your DIL is.

Can you join that online group and let her know there that pigs will fly before she gets her hands on your money?

I would take both sons off and leave DH as POA and start looking around for someone else that you trust to do the job.  An accountant?  A lawyer? 

My husband is 10 years older than I am and I also need to figure out a future beyond him.  I've heard that long term care insurance is not a bad idea.


Believe me... I have been wracking my brain trying to think of who else I can pick.  I suppose a lawyer or accountant would be a feasible choice, but they would have no emotional attachment or caring.   My husband is 3 years younger than I, but I think between the two of us, I am the healthier one, but you never know.  The thing is, you POA doesn't necessarily have to be dead to be unable to perform the function.  What would happen if we were in a car accident and both of us were in a coma?  Both his and my alternate POAs would be responsible for decisions.  This is why I'm thinking that I should move sooner rather than later.  One never knows. 


I'm not really conversed in this area, but isn't it a matter of spelling out your wishes and making sure that they are followed?  Maybe someone uninvolved would be better to make the decision - professionals can be taken to court if they don't handle things properly. 


I am well versed in this.  These things... Wills, Living wills, and POA for healthcare and finances are called  Advance Directives.

The purpose of a Will is to bequeath any assest of which you are sole owner and have no beneficiaray assigned.  Things like your house, if you are the only owner, or jewelery, or artwork and other valuable collections, as well as you personal belongings like furniture or clothing.  These are things that a Will covers. 

If you own your home in Joint Tennency with your DH... the house will automatically be inherited by the surviving spouse.  Things like stocks and bonds, 401Ks, 403Bs, bank accounts, insurance policies MUST have an assigned Primary beneficiary as well as a secondary beneficiary.  These assests can be devided up by percentage amoung your choices. 

A Living Will IMO isn't really worth the paper it's written on.  You can spell out your wishes as far as what you would like done medically in the event you are not able to make your wishes known, however, a Living will can be over-ridden by your family. All it takes is one family member to disagree and a Living Will goes out the window.

A Power of Attorney for Healthcare and for financial matters have serious teeth in them.  This is where you appoint a person to act in your behalf and to make decisions AS IF they were YOU.  A POAs decisions cannot be over-ridden.  He/She cannot be taken to court by ANYONE who wants his decision changed.  The Doctors and nurses will speak to your POA as if they are speaking to you.  His/her word is the final one.

So you see how important this stuff is.   This is why I am beside myself knowing how much fun this is going to be for my DIL, and how lightly she is taking it.  Like it's a big joke!!   She believes that my son will follow her wishes no matter what.... and I don't really doubt it.    I can easily give my financial planner POA over my money, however, it's the Healthcare part that has me upset.  I would want a person I know and trust and who knows my wishes.  I would want that person to be able to make informed decisions with ME in mind... not what is the most fun or profitable for them.   


Lilycache, I'm sorry that I don't remember, but why can't you just ask your older DS?  Also, it sounds as if your DH picked someone else for his POA, can you ask that person to be your back up too?

I have to say that I have seen this before.  My Dad would NOT put my brother as his POA, because he did NOT want my (STBx)SisIL influencing ANY decisions relating to him.


Is your DH's alternate a viable option for you? Also, is it possible to talk with your older son about your wishes? That's a pretty serious thing for her to be gloating about (it's like pre-meditated elder abuse really), and maybe it is something you should talk to your sons about.


My husband's alternate is his older sister.  She is 10 years older than I am.  She could be my alternate, but I would have to keep in mind that I may face the prospect of finding another down the road.  I trust her.

I wanted to name my older son as my alternate, but his judgement is often clouded by emotional issues and alcohol.  He is brilliant and has a Masters degree, but........  he is not entirely reliable.   This is why I chose my younger son... BECAUSE of his wife and her experience with finance.  I really trusted her.  Now I certainly DON'T trust her.  I am going to have think about this and discuss it with DH.  I think I will have to let both son's know of my decision so they aren't surprised.  I have to let my younger son know why he is no longer my alternate.    I seriously don't want to cause him trouble, but this is my future and my health at stake.  I think I deserve a dignified end of life..  We all do. 


Could you not name both sons as PO A's where decisions would have to be made by consensus?  In other words, include Son A and Son B as the POA but not Son A and/or Son B (this allows one son to make the decision without consulting the other son).  I know in my area this is quite common, but I'm not from the U.S. so the "rules" here may be different.


I'm not from the US either, and I was sort of wondering if the joint POA was a possibility. My mother and aunt had POA for my grandfather before he died, and their lawyer advised them to write it as Daughter A and/or Daughter B because if you put "and" without the "or", and something happened to one of them, it renders the POA useless. They get along and for the most part all of the siblings were in agreement with all the care decisions, so there were no issues.  I was thinking maybe one son and another person together could be POA, maybe who'd look out for your interests better even if it's a friend, lawyer, etc.

Lilly, I remember when you initially posted about what your DIL was saying online, and I think I remember some consensus that bringing this to DS's attention may get you cut off totally. When she's talking about putting your health and safety (and dignity) in danger, or taking advantage of the situation financially, I believe it's worth the risk. And if that happens and your DS goes along with it in spite of what she's been saying about this, that's a pretty clear indication that he can't be trusted to look after you if needed.


L - I would love to see this question on www.AgingWithWisdom.com. Would you be willing to post it there, as well?

From my experience, your POA does not have to be a relative. Where I have retired we have a class on how to do that for others on campus who need a POA and who's family is gone, unable or unwilling. We can add untrustworthy to that. There is no need for you to give anyone you don't trust that kind of power over you.

You can pick your retirement community like I did long before you ever need it and know where you are going to be by getting on the waiting list. There are people here who were on the waiting list for twenty years before they moved in. To see a prototype of a nonprofit, CCRC (Continuous Care Retirement Community) take a look at mine: www.warmbeach.org
I have lived here 12 years and it is exactly what I thought it would be...comfortable, safe, loving and innovative. To that I would add stimulating which most proport to be and aren't. It is church owned and I don't belong. No problem.

Find an Elder Attorney who comes highly recommended and is trustworthy and he will find you the POA person you need and help you to build the kind of future you want and deserve. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Have you ever heard the saying - "be nice to your DIL because she will be the one picking out your nursing home?"  Sad truth in that I think.

I struggle with the same issues as you Lilly, posted over on the Aging with Wisdom site Louise started. I think I need to find complete strangers to take mine over, still trying to figure it out. No family other than ds who I do not trust anymore since he married and ...whatever. I think it is too much to ask of a friend.

With my mom, who died last year with dementia, she in advance had all the documents you mentioned in place with me as health care POA - the one I wanted while my 2 siblings each had the POA financial or personal representative ones.  When push came to shove and she could no longer make decisions for herself due to dementia, it enraged the sib with the POA financial that I decided her care costs and instead of going with less expensive alternatives which would not have given her the best quality of life in her last years, I chose the more expensive, better quality route.  As things progressed and she needed 24 hour care, first assisted and then in nursing home due to impulsiveness and I did not want her drugged for safety, I put on the 24 hour care on top of nursing home care. I had found she had gone to her attorney some years earlier and drawn up an additional one page document stating that if for any reason she needed more than the ordinary care at home or even in nursing home, she wanted her money spent on private nursing care up to and including 24 hours care. It was easy for me to continue the direction I went despite vociferous dissent from siblings. The sibling with the financial poa resigned on her bday one year and presumed her alternate ( my ds living far away ) would not be able to keep up or handle the responsibilities and that it would go to guardianship by the courts. He stepped up and just did what I asked so the care continued and she had the continued care 24/7 in a nursing home setting - it ran through almost all the money before she died and I am blessed I chose the right POA for myself to handle. She gave me first choice.  In my state the living will does have teeth at least in terms of life support decisions and nursing home admissions when needed - almost impossible to over ride here anyway according to attorney. I did not trust the courts to approve her request for 24 hour care if needed since it was pretty unheard of here in a rather non urban area of the midwest, and did not want to risk it, thus ds stepped up at considerable  time cost to himself as I was running a weekly payroll needing his signature, sometimes from India or Singapore. For my mom it worked out as she would have wanted though my siblings would not even come to say goodbye to her the last days of her life and had their children tell me they will never speak to me again - ok with me, so I now have no family other than ds. He has since married and I subsequently found out my dil's grandmother was dying from dementia in another state at the time my mom was on 24 hour care. That family chose to drug her, gave her a doll to hold and she spent her days in a fog at the nursing station. After she passed, all of them, grandchildren and children, received money from her estate, so obviously they chose to keep the money so they would inherit instead of spending it on their mother/grandmother's care and quality of life.  Thus my POAs need to be changed just as yours probably do.

It is my understanding you do need to notify legally the former POA's when you change away from them because without that they can take the document to a bank, doc etc who will act according to the document and without the threat of legal ramifications as they were not notified legally.  The legal notification of change of poa to them need not specify who you name in their stead, just lets them know the legal system is on your side if they go ahead and try to act anyway and the courts look on this type of action most unfavorably. It usually prevents them from trying to act under former POAs and prevents them claiming ignorance of the change. My mom had to do this with one of my siblings a few years before she was declared unable to act on her own behalf and that sibling made 2 phone calls to her in the last years of her life  after some terrible screaming at my mom phone calls when she received notification of change that she was no longer financial POA though mom kept her as personal representative, as her concern was what would happen while she was alive, not after her death which I thought was correct given some not nice moves that one made to try insisting mom move into a basement room in another state where she knew no one. Sibling who had the financial poa subsequently had a real tantrum and made a fool of herself with docs and nurses in a hospital when she mistakenly thought that since she was in charge of the money she could decide how much was spent on mom's care - not so, health poa ( me) made those decisions. I don't know how much teeth my decisions would have had without that other little document stating my Mom's wishes her lawyer drew up and had witnessed.  I was told I loved my mother extravagantly by others not involved, implying something wrong with my sense of correct decisions on her behalf, when to me it was easy to know what to do - she had specified in writing what she wanted.

Your dil sounds like a nasty piece of work. Your ds may be fine yet she certainly is not and as we know here sometimes dils or sil can really change our dc and how they think or view things. Don't take the chance.


Can it get any worse than this?!  Sad answer is you bet! I'd go with friends over family here!  You can change the POA as needed should the friendship end or the trust leaves.

I too would answer the snarky post by the DIL.  She needs a put in her place for sure! Something like,  "good to know so I can remove you from that burden!"  I would also copy in DS in my reply. 

Even if she is joking, this is unacceptable!

I plan on using a friend to do this for me as well.


Ok, I was one of the consensus last time that said don't tell DS.  After she has done this again, I change my vote.  It's one thing to vent some about someone (who doesn't have the need to vent every once in a while, legit or not?) but doing it again and about such a serious subject matter....not funny.

I guess I'm also part of the snarky club because I don't think I could have passed up registering and blasting her over that one.  She would have known that I knew and how much I appreciated it.   I would have my say, printed it all out and had a long talk with DS, explaining why I was changing my POA immediately.  You're a better person than me.

How dare she make plans for making your life terrible after you have worked so hard for it and gave that kind of trust.  I'm just all mad on your behalf right now.

Make someone else your POA, most definately.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Quote from: Pooh on June 14, 2012, 10:30:30 am
Ok, I was one of the consensus last time that said don't tell DS.  After she has done this again, I change my vote.  It's one thing to vent some about someone (who doesn't have the need to vent every once in a while, legit or not?) but doing it again and about such a serious subject matter....not funny.

I guess I'm also part of the snarky club because I don't think I could have passed up registering and blasting her over that one.  She would have known that I knew and how much I appreciated it.   I would have my say, printed it all out and had a long talk with DS, explaining why I was changing my POA immediately.  You're a better person than me.

How dare she make plans for making your life terrible after you have worked so hard for it and gave that kind of trust.  I'm just all mad on your behalf right now.

Make someone else your POA, most definately.

Oh... so many times I have wanted to blast her.  BUT... to tell you the truth, I am so darned sick and tired of drama.  I certainly don't want a confrontation with her... I have had my fill of that. Hours and hours of her screaming accusations.    I would just rather make the changes and have my attorney notify them without an explanation.  If my son presses for a reason, then I will have to tell him.  I just have to figure out who to appoint.  I am still perplexed about that.