It can be hard to tell if your dad is still in a proper frame of mind. He may be used to being in charge. He's stubborn and never wants help with anything. However, you may see that he’s making some risky choices with money, that are out of character. These changes come slowly but steadily.
Other examples can be if he forgets to pay a bill…. or he forgot that he spoke to you yesterday. You recognize all this and ask him to get some help. He refuses to even talk about it.
Is there anything you can do? No one would ever say, at this time, that he's legally incompetent to make decisions, because he presents himself well. That’s the issue discussed in Forbes’ recent article, “Aging Parents At The In-Between Stage: Partially Competent and Partially Not.”
Here are some strategies to consider to help you to address this situation:
First, both the senior parent and the adult child must be in agreement that something has to change, and fast. Next, examine the parent’s legal documents, specifically the Durable Power of Attorney, Will, Trust, and Advanced Health Care Directive. In some cases, the daughter is appointed as the agent, and her power is unrestricted. She has legal authority to take over management of the father's accounts. Nevertheless, the daughter may not have discussed this with her father and, likely, she has not exercised any authority as agent. The daughter should review the estate planning documents with any siblings. She should then access her father's accounts, so she’d know if her father is giving away money or perhaps caught up in an elder fraud. If there’s a significant problem, she needs to approach her father.
It's also helpful to get confirmation from the parent's primary care physician determining that parent does or does not have capacity to continuing managing his affairs. Often time, the legal documents will require this.
The father might refuse any help in managing his finances. However, gentle and respectful persistence can win the day. The Durable Power of Attorney can be used to move most of his assets out of accounts where he had access. He still could give away money, but she then could restrict what he had available.
This shows the importance of doing estate planning and having at least one responsible person, the daughter, to act for the ailing parent.
A partially incompetent elder who presents well, may not have any sound financial judgment remaining. The affected elder shouldn’t be permitted to endanger finances, when you can help protect him and his assets. The protection is usually a signed Durable Power of Attorney.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: Forbes (December 3, 2018) “Aging Parents At The In-Between Stage: Partially Competent and Partially Not”