having somebody declared mentally incompetent

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Latest post Sat, Aug 11 2012 11:18 PM by Taxagent. 1 replies.
  • Sat, Aug 11 2012 10:16 PM

    • medicamanda
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    • Joined on Sun, Aug 12 2012
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    having somebody declared mentally incompetent

    Hello, this is my first post, so please bear with me if I don't hit all of the points I should, I will be happy to come back and clarify anything I don't make clear. This is regarding my 80 year old stepfather. He was diagnosed with dementia several years ago, and it has been extensively progressing. I will try to give some examples of his mental decline.

    - 2 years ago, he instructed his stockbroker to sell, or liquidate, (sorry, I don't know the correct term) $70,000 in stocks, then forgot he authorized it, then accused the broker of stealing his money. He then tried to hire an attorney, but the attorney sent him a letter stating he would not take his case due to his history of dementia.

    - He started receiving sweepstakes packets in the mail about a year ago. I'm not talking about legit ones like Publisher's Clearing House, I'm talking about the ones that say send us $25 and we guarantee we will send you $2 million or $3 million, or whatever. He would happily send in the money, and then go all around town telling everybody that he was getting all of this money. When I tried printing out literally 70 pages of these scam companies names and giving them to him, he at first said that it wasn't a big deal, because he was only sending in $20 a week or so. When I presented him with the copies of the procesed checks, totalling $150-$250 a week, he then got angry and told me that it was his money, and he would do what he wanted to with it. About a month later, he came to me asking me to type up letters to send to each of these companies, demanding they send him his money. when I refused, he then had his neighbor do it for him. One time one of the companies called the house, asking for $3500 for them to send him his $3 million dollars. Luckily while he was searching for his wallet, my mom took the phone away and hung up, and the man didn't call back. Then a couple of months ago, when one of the companies asked for a copy of his driver's license and social security card, he happily sent it along with a check, so they now have all of his personal financial information. My mom tries to intercept the mail and hide them when she can, but she isn't always able to, and he gets an average of 8-10 a day.

    - Most of the time he thinks it is 2003. He occassionally gets lost while driving, and gets confused a lot. For instance, when going to the doctor a few months ago, he went out to the parking lot and couldn't find his car. Turns out he was looking for a red car. His car is silver. He and my mother have been together for over 10 years, and in that time he has not ever had a red car. Another time at the doctor he went up to the receptionist and asked her a question. He then left and came back a few minutes later, asking the same thing. He repeats himself constantly. For example, a week ago when I was over their house, within a 30 minute time frame he had asked me 5 times if I was losing weight, and 7 times where were my children. 

    - On June 29th on my youngest son's 8th birthday, I had to work (I'm a paramedic and work 24 hour shifts) so he had gone to my mom and stepdad's house until my husband got off work. When my son asked if he could spend the night, my stepdad got angry and locked him and my mom out of the house for almost 3 hours at night time. When my husband got there he had to kick the back door in. This was far from the first time he has locked my mom out of the house. He does it at least twice a month, whenever he gets mad at her for any reason. Last week she finally got smart and called the cops when he did it. He had also called the police the night he locked my son out, to press charges against my husband for kicking in the door, so there is documentation that he locked an 8 year old out of the house at night. 

    - He also likes to close out their joint bank account any time he gets angry at her, I would say he does this on average once every 6-8 weeks. The bank manager actually gave my mother the name of an attorney one of the last times he did it, because they think it is ridiculous. 

    - He closed out their account again yesterday. Then last night, he went down the street and called the police, the police officer came over and talked to my mom for a few minutes, then left. Then this morning, my mom called me crying. He had taken out involuntary commitment papers on her. He had told the magistrate that she had threatened to kill him 3 times, and that she was a danger to herself and others. The neighbors had told the deputy that my stepdad was nuts, and that my mom was the best thing that ever happened to him. He had to take her to the hospital to be evaluated, but once I went up there and spoke to the ER physician, she agreed it was crazy, and filed the paperwork to release her.

    2 or 3 years ago, he did give my mom power of attorney. I don't know if that helps or not. He is on medication for dementia (Razadyne). He has been to the doctor to have cognitive testing done within the last year and did not perform well on the tests. 

    He has two adult children, both in their 50's. He and his daughter have recently gotten back in touch, after a falling out years ago when he took her to court for money he had loaned her. His son and his wife are unemployed, and borrows anywhere from $500-$1500 a month from my stepdad. His son has made it clear that he will not be there to take care of his father if it comes down to it. However, being that he does financially depend on his father, I don't think he would be willing to rock the boat and testify or give statements against his father. 

    I really think he is at the point where he is not safe to be by himself, and after what happened today I really don't know if my mom is going to be willing to go back and take care of him again. She is with me at my house for the time being. I am honestly not writing this out of anger or trying to be vindictive. Yes, I am upset, especially by what happened today, but I also know that he is not rational, so to try to understand what is going on his his mind is pretty much impossible. One of the nurses at the hospital did tell us to contact adult services, and we will do so Monday morning, but other than that, I'm honestly lost as to what other steps to take, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Oh, I don't know if this matters, but we are in North Carolina. Thank you in advance to anyone who has taken the time to read this or respond.

  • Sat, Aug 11 2012 11:18 PM In reply to

    Re: having somebody declared mentally incompetent

    The power of attorney he gave your mother allows her to act on his behalf to do the things specified in the power of attorney. Unless it is a durable power of attorney, however, it is not valid if he becomes legally incompetent. The problem is that even if she has a durable power of attorney, that does not give her the power to override his decisions, force him to do something, or restrain him from doing something. In order to have that power, a court must declare him incompetent and appoint a guardian to make decisions for him. If his wife or one of his children want to be the guardian and are competent to handle that role, the court would generally choose the spouse or child as the guardian. Typically guardianship proceedings require that as part of the evidence an expert testifies as to his mental state and capability.  I suggest that your mother meet with an elder law attorney for advice on what a guardianship proceeding involves, what it will cost, and how likely it is that she'd succeed.

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