Ann took my Aunt Marion to the doctor's appointment. Case worker MT's hope was that the doctor would recommend that Marion stay in the hospital for a few days to get an infection under control. Once there her general condition could be evaluated and long-term care arrangements then be made.
But that didn't happen. The doctor said Marion was fine, healthy, alert and quite capable of doing well with assisted living. He gave her some 'tests', like counting backwards from 100, and declared that she was competent to make her own decisions. What he failed to assess was her memory of everyday things. He failed to realize that she thinks she lives in Florida, or that she doesn't recognize her own house in a picture. That she can remember some oft repeated stories from childhood, but not what happened a few days ago. That she, herself, admits she doesn't know what is going on currently.
So Marion was sent on her way with Ann, and Ann saw her chance. By that same afternoon, Ann had Marion at an attorney's office where Marion signed over Power of Attorney to Ann. Within one week of my cousin's death Ann had started her journey toward taking over...everything. On December 7th, the Power of Attorney was registered with the county deed office.
Unaware that any of this take-over was happening, I had contacted an elder law attorney in Remote County, SC. I wanted to be sure that there was no chance of Ann using Marion in just that manner. (During the first call that my mom had made to my aunt after Paul's death, Ann made a point of stating, "You know, Marion will give me anything I want to stay here with her.") My thoughts were that Ann could stay on in her previous capacity of daytime care-giver and a licensed home health care provider could cover the remaining hours and be the 'official' caregiver. The attorney informed me that as an out-of-state relative there was not even a slim chance that the court would listen to me (or grant guardianship to me). Particularly since Marion's doctor had declared her competent. The lawyer thought my best bet would be to work with MT and Adult Protective Services...or pay him a $3000.00 retainer and $225.00/hour to start a court battle.
The latter was not and is not an option that I can afford.
So, of course, when I heard of the Power of Attorney, I called MT. He was unaware. He said he'd talk to 'them'. He was evidently satisfied with Ann's explanation...an explanation that wasn't conveyed to me. He did say that he had explained that there was to be no 'questionable' behavior...all money was to be used for Marion's benefit...no 'off' check amounts...receipts to be retained. He told me that all seemed in order. That Marion seemed happy, clean, and well.
But there would be more emails arriving in my Inbox from the neighbors. Ann was not finished yet.