Where is the best place to get a durable power of attorney if Mom is moving out-of-state?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I am in the process of trying to get my mother, who lives about 2000 miles away, moved closer to me - about 150 miles away but still in another state. I live in Idaho, she lives in Indiana and would be moving to Montana.

My question is where would be the best place in these three states (my state of residence, her current state of residence, or the state to which she will be moving) to get legal help in setting up a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances. My mother has not handled her finances well since becoming widowed, despite much effort by family members, staff at her bank(s), and community senior service organizations to help her set up and follow a budget. She no longer has any assets to speak of. She rents an apartment and collects SS and a pension from my father's work. I also send a monthly supplement to her income as well as paying for the balance on her medical bills, the veterinarian bills, and prescriptions when she can't cover the cost. She has gone bankrupt twice in the last 20 years and is in constant financial trouble.

Due to lifelong problems with her mental illness/narcisism, we do not have a conventional mother/daughter relationship and I find it difficult and emotionally challenging to try to help her with her ongoing crises.

But, her health is deteriorating and she is becoming even less capable of taking care of herself (although she can still manage all life skills except finances...)I have agreed to help her move closer to me on the condition that she give me financial power of attorney and that she sell her car and not continue to drive or buy another car. (There are several transportation options, especially for seniors, in the community to which she'd be moving.) This may seem a bit harsh but I believe it is the best avenue to keep her from getting in any more financial trouble.

Thank you for any insight you can offer.

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

First a few words that don't directly answer your question: For better or worse, there don't seem to be many "conventional mother/daughter relationships" once you look and listen more closely. And rest assured that your solution doesn't sound harsh"”only realistic and pragmatic and quite surely based on a lifetime of dealing with the people and situations involved.

If your mother's move is imminent and certain, your best solution is to secure a power of attorney in Montana"”the state in which she will reside, since her accounts will technically be located there. You can get a copy of the power of attorney form by searching "Montana Code Annotated" and "72-31-201." While the document is fairly straightforward, you could consult a lawyer with any specific questions you have about it.

While performing your duties as your mother's agent in another state, there are helpful steps you can take, such as getting online access to her bank accounts. In many situations, this is about all that is required to handling the simple finances connected to billing and paying.

It also sounds as if you've done some research about your mother's new community and the resources there. Should you need additional help, such as securing a volunteer to carry out social visits to your mother"”particularly as she settles into her new community"”those resources can likely offer some direction to you.