Well, I just returned from court where I needed to appear in order to end the conservatorship that I had obtained for my father.  I was both a guardian and conservator for him and whereas a guardianship automatically ends at death, a conservatorship does not.  There are papers that must be filed with the court; a financial accounting of the “conservatee’s” estate must be filed and “letters” must be written by the judge and certified by the court so that they can be sent to various agencies with whom the conservatee was involved (for instance, financial institutions, credit card corporations, etc).

My lawyer was scheduled to attend this court hearing with me and I was also surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) that my father’s lawyer also attended the proceedings.  While I have absolutely nothing against my father’s lawyer (she’s a lovely person and all elders should have their own representation in cases of guardianship and conservatorship), thoughts of  “I wonder how much additional money this will cost my father’s estate” rang in my head.

You see, once upon a time, families were able to make decisions for their elders without requiring legal representation and all the hoopla and expense that goes with it.  But now, because of privacy laws and because of people taking advantage of our elders, durable powers of attorney for both health and financial affairs, guardianships and conservatorships are becoming more necessary.

My father’s conservatorship became necessary after his dementia increased and  he agreed to sell his lakeside home in Canada for $100,000.oo less than market value.  If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you may also remember that he bought a truck while I was at work and had it delivered and later that month called 911 because of concerns over the NASA astronauts in space.  But this conservatorship has cost his estate a few thousand dollars .  Even after his death, there remain legal expenses.

But I think what is really concerning me now is my mother.  As I wrote recently, she is having trouble receiving her social security payments since she has moved to Canada.  At first they told her, it was because they didn’t have her new banking information.  Just yesterday they told her that she doesn’t qualify because she moved out of the country!  I don’t believe that because both she and my father contributed to the social security system in the United States for over 40 years.  But…………..can I talk to them about it?  Nooooooooooooo.  Privacy laws will not allow it.  Please see my post on HIIPA laws  to read more about this.

So now some sort of power of attorney will be necessary  for one of my sisters or myself to help my mother figure this whole mess out.  Meanwhile, she receives no social security payments.  How much will THIS cost?  How much time will it take?  Because of my experiences with my father, I know the proper paperwork to file, but how many families do not?  How many families cannot afford to add yet another cost to their caregiving budget.

Even my own attorney said that this inability to help aging parents without legal paperwork is a waste of time, energy and money for all concerned.

Something must change!


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