by Joy Loverde
My elderly father in Florida started trading stocks 2 years ago and is seemingly addicted, having lost over half his life savings on ridiculous amounts of trading. He denies his losses and will not discuss it with anyone (including my mother). My siblings and I want to declare him incompetent to manage his finances and have my mother take sole control over their accounts. Is this possible against his will? All of their accounts are joint accounts.
Your mother is closer to the situation and, perhaps, can provide you with more insight into Dad's thinking, judgments, investment patterns, etc. If she is in disagreement with what he is doing, and feels he is not taking her wishes or needs into account, she can access any amounts from the joint accounts, withdraw same and open her own individual accounts to protect against further diminution of the family's assets.
On the other hand, if Dad was hitting the jackpot with all of his trading, would you be judging the soundness of his decisions based on how good things turned out?
My father gave my older brother power of attorney for medical and financial affairs in 2006. Dad is bipolar and currently in a manic phase and refusing to let us place mom in a skilled care facility and refusing to entertain any ideas of selling the family home and moving her to assisted living. Dad is unable to care adequately for himself and my mother. Is power of attorney enough clout for us to force these issues? How do we force these issues, do we have to get someone in to bodily remove him?
There are a variety of ways to deal with this sad situation (and I’m sorry that you’re having such a rough go of it). Your power of attorney status is limited in this case, and unfortunately your letter is missing critical information. My immediate questions include... What is the relationship dynamic between your mom and dad? How does your mom feel about leaving the family home if in-home care is an option? What level of care does your mom require at this time?
Not knowing the answers to any of these questions, I am compelled to suggest that you seek the advice of a geriatric case manager who will make an on-site visit to your parents’ home, assess the situation at hand, and then make recommendations for necessary care arrangements.
Geriatric case managers are highly trained social workers and nurses who have extensive experience working with older adults. Be aware that private geriatric case management services are not covered by insurance; however some area agencies on aging may offer this service without cost. Contact the local aging office or your mom’s doctor for referrals.
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