The excuse is always “I wasn’t stealing.” I was (choose one), “protecting”, “shielding”, “helping”, “organizing”, “investing” and so on.
When children take their older parent’s money, any excuse in the book comes out. The excuses are usually framed in the context of “my parent was too old/sick/demented to handle their affairs so I took over” and taking over meant taking – literally.
Regardless of supposed good intentions, you don’t get to take other people’s money without permission. A Power of Attorney does not permit a child to take a parent’s money. A Power of Attorney (POA) – in Wisconsin – requires that the POA act to effectuate the desires of the person. The POA does not have the right to self-gift (give themselves money), gift to others or use a person’s money for their own benefit (absent very particular and unusual circumstances). A POA doesn’t have the right to compel their parent to live in a manner the parent doesn’t want to by withholding money or using the money to extort concessions.
So many good people help their parents manage their financial affairs with diligence, compassion and extreme good faith. Yet mixed in are those who see their aging parent’s infirmities as excuses to take money they wrongly believe they are entitled to. As in:
- You didn’t earn this money – Dad did so I should have it;
- If you use up all this money I won’t get any when you die;
- You gave all sorts of money to my no-good sibling, this is my turn;
- I’ll let you have your money back if you invest it the way I want you to.
If you are horrified by these statements, I can assure you, so am I. Yet I represent many elderly persons who have been forced to resort to litigation to reclaim their own money, taken under the guise of ‘helping’ them organize their finances.
Call us if you or a loved one has encountered this heartbreaking situation – we can help.
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