The story began in 2008 shortly after my father’s death when we first became aware of my mother’s dementia. You’d think it would have been obvious but my father’s outgoing ways overshadowed Mom, and his active and capable mind kept things in place for both of them.
With his death Mom’s incapability came into focus. Her driving was so concerning we reported it and by March 2009 her license was revoked. The house became disorganised and poorly cleaned, numerous notes appeared, as did burnt pots and a fridge empty of edible food.
Divisions between the children also became apparent. My mothers Power of Attorney at the time named two children. Some appeared hurt by the exclusion.
We all agreed, for her own safety, Mom could not spend that first winter at her home but with my brother, Andrew, in a suite he had build for his daughter Zoey after her tragic and well covered accident.
My mother’s Power of Attorney was drafted in 1999 by her long time lawyer Barry Laushway. After Dad’s death Barry had provided us copies of Mom’s PoA to allow us to begin the process of acting for her.
We had agreed to ask Mom to alter her Power of Attorney to add all children, to make care easier but nothing happened. I was not directly involved but assume that either Mom did not agree or Barry would not as he was concerned about Mom’s incapacity. It might have remained that way but Barry died suddenly in Janurary 2009.
Shortly Andrew contacted Scott Laushway to change Mom’s PoA and apparently also her Will. At the time Andrew mentioned Scott frequently when speaking of legal matters.
I was asked to attend with Mom and Andrew her signing the new PoA – and did. It was as if she was sleepwalking and unaware of her surroundings or what she was doing.
Was she competent to make the change? I do not know. What I know is that dementia, grief and miss-medication (sleeping pills during the day / antidepressants at night) were taking a toll. Shortly after the PoA was changed my brother Michael wrote:
It might be argued that she was not competent to make that change … I would prefer to make the case that she has not been fully competent for a while, … because I believe that it is true. But then the implication is that the original PoA with only two of us is the valid doc, and that the powers in the PoA are now operative. What a mess. Michael Childs April 2 2009
But before Childs vs Childs there was 5 years of serious but private legal questions, until my brothers filed guardianship plans in the fall of 2014 to remove me and my sister as attorneys, place my mom in a government long term care home, sell her house and for them to manage her considerable assets.
But here was also serious duty and care, the tricky and difficult slide into dementia and the steps affected people take to keep their dignity and wishes.