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EPA - accounting for cash?

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by Tender Face, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Following registration, I’m dutifully keeping receipts and records - including decisions made on mum’s behalf …. (we’re not talking a fortune here) but am really struggling with how much I can be expected to ‘account’ for cash given to mum.

    If I ‘ration’ her she becomes anxious that she hasn’t got ‘spare’ money around the house, when I succumb and produce say £200 it is promptly ‘lost’ - or frittered away on nonsense spending when she shops with a friend (expensive handbags she will never use being the latest fad) or food and drink she doesn’t need and often gets thrown away subsequently when she is able to get to the ‘corner shop‘’ (I do all her ‘main shopping’ and provide her meals).

    My take on it is that mum’s cash spending is on a par or often less than she had been spending in recent years (cursory appraisal of her bank statements) …. yet I feel I’m not protecting her from frittering money away.

    But shouldn’t she be allowed to do some ‘frittering away’ when she can if that makes her happy - she’s not got many pleasures left?

    And why do I feel like a crook? I can imagine the PGO asking ‘How much has she lost?‘ - Yeah right!

    Registering the EPA was meant to protect her - not punish her and put her on a tight budget - and secondarily to protect me by declaring I was open to any public scrutiny about my handling of her financial affairs - so why do I feel like I have dug both of us into a hole?

    Any thoughts, anyone?

    Love, Karen, x
  2. Natashalou

    Natashalou Registered User

    Mar 22, 2007
    I feel

    exactly the same way although this is partly because my mother keeps accusing me of spending (stealing) her money. She also tells everyone else I have done so and there are times I bitterly regret taking on the EPA role.
    She doesnt want or need much cash as she is in a nursing home and doesnt go out, but when I reassure her that her money is all safe in the bank and offer to show her the statements she refuses to agree to this as she really knows she wouldnt understand them.
    however despite keeping meticulous accounts, I still feel guilty if I then reimburse myself for something I have bought on my credit card over the internet like a wheelchair I bought recently. I literally have visions of alarms going off in the bank although I have done absolutly nothing wrong!
    in fact on a day to day basis i lose out as I dont reimburse myself for sweets, drinks etc i might take in for her which over a month actually adds up to a fair bit!:(
  3. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Karen you haven't dug either of you into a hole. You just have a well-developed conscience!

    I think it's inevitable that we feel vulnerable dealing with someone else's money, but I can't imagine anyone who knows you imagining that you'd take advantage. But you're dealing with legal beagles and financial establishments, and they don't take personality into account.

    You're keeping accounts, and that's all anyone can ask of you. What you give your mum is 'pocket money', and even residents of NHs get that.

    I wouldn't worry too much about frittering. We're all entitled to a little fritter now and again, and if it gives her pleasure, and isn't getting her into debt, why not?

    Relax, lassie. You're doing great!

  4. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Dear Karen

    such a difficult situation. I understand where you're coming from: even if her personal spending isn't totally out of line with what she was spending previously, if that previous spending was unreasonable, as I believe you've indicated in the past that is was, this is precisely the reason (or one of the reasons rather) that you registered the EPA in the first place. All I can suggest is that you try to raid her home and her handbag at regular intervals so that you can produce at least some receipts if you're questioned down the line (and possibly, just possibly, perhaps ask any friends that might be with her to make a notation of what she spends, although I understand that that may be impossible). I don't suppose you feel comfortable about calling the guardinship help line and asking what would be a reasonable amount of spending money? I would worry that it might send up alarm flares, unless it could be done anonymously (which, of course, it might be possible to do).

  5. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    When I was managing my mother`s money, [she died in 2002 ]it was impossible to keep track of her spending. She was easily persuaded, and in some cases, I know for a fact, she was cheated.
    At one stage I had an interview with social services, I can`t remember why, but I was really nervous about sums I couldn`t account for. The person who interviewed me was fine. She said they can tell when someone`s `fiddling`and no-one is expected to account for every penny.
    For example, when my niece got married, [a granddaughter], I gave her the amount of cash I`m sure my mother would have wanted her to have for a wedding present. That was fine with social services. I was told they only become suspicious when large sums are unaccounted for, but small sums are considered acceptable.
  6. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    Karen, on a lighter note, when I first met Lionel he had no money.

    He used to say........"I had better spend this money before I fritter it away". He hated saving. I refuse to be his conscience
  7. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Jennifer I am completely comfortable about calling - and intend to do so soon as I can Tuedsay - nothing to hide - what I am NOT comfortable with is the apparent principle that mum has to be 'rationed' with her own money. If she were well enough to blow the lot of her savings (and she's not actually dipping into any savings - just spending within her monthly income) on a world cruise say, most people would say, "Good on her - that's what saving up for retiremement is all about" ... only now she's got dementia and we've reached registering EPA point I feel like I've got to try to preserve every penny I can to put towards care fees when that day arrives .... it's another punishment .... (sorry, a bit grizzly today).

    As Skye says, there is no concern about her going into debt - if she was having fun flushing notes down the loo I feel she's entitled to use her money in whatever way gives her pleasure ..... and as long as I am practising 'damage limitation' then ....???

    Maybe I'm so grumpy because mum has been a 'saver' most of her life in spite of a modest income and now I feel by registering the EPA I've stopped her being free to enjoy spending what she wants without question..........???????? (Or hiding money ... or flushing it away ....... :eek: )

    :( Karen, x
  8. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Registered User

    Aug 20, 2006
    The only way to look at this is to say to yourself "Now, what would Mum have done when she was well?" and act accordingly.

    As you say, your Mum's money is hers to enjoy, but at the same time, it sounds as though when she was well she was not a person to fritter.

    What is probably happening is that she is enjoying the occasional "fritter" that she used to indulge in, but forgets that she has done it, and therefore does it again.

    She may also have little idea of the actual value of money, or that there are real bills that need to be paid. She may also have a very inflated idea of how much money she's got in the bank or of what her income is. Oh that we had the "£30,000" that Dad insists he used to have in the current account...!

    I think you should exercise a little caution...in that if you have taken responsibility for someone's finances then you are likely to be expected to, err, act "responsibly" (that sounds awful, but it isn't meant to be) with them. After all, the reason you have done so is to prevent your Mum from throwing he rmoney down the drain.

    There is also the question of care fees, in that "irresponsble" spending on "luxuries" could be construed as a "deprivation of assets" (ie deliberately spending money to reduce your savings). Of course it all depends on how substantial your mum's savings and income are.

    I think it would be well worth your contacting the guardianship and possibly social services for advice.

    If someone is in a care home, then they are allowed to keep around £20/week as "pocket money", no matter how the care is paid for.
  9. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Dear Karen

    I hadn't realised that the money she was using for "frittering" was actually income, and not savings: I would think you have considerably less to worry about on that basis. At least I would hope you hadn't. I can't see that her spending her income is anyones business than hers (and yours).


  10. Lucille

    Lucille Registered User

    Sep 10, 2005
    #10 Lucille, Apr 7, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2007
    Hello Karen

    Well, well. Your mum sounds like mine ...

    I worry about the same things as you do. Should you be 'rationing'? Well, yes, up to a point I think. Nebiroth hit the nail on the head: "What is probably happening is that she is enjoying the occasional "fritter" that she used to indulge in, but forgets that she has done it, and therefore does it again."

    My mum's income does not match her spending. She is, increasingly drawing money from her small savings account plus spending on her current account. I have to sometimes put money in to pay her rent. Over seven days in March she withdrew nearly £500. She can't remember going to the bank, let alone what it was spent on. In trying to look at it from her side: she has dementia, she's never had much in the way of material things; I often think, what am I doing? Just let her get on with it! But ... in wanting to enable independence, we don't want our mums being taken advantage of either. Whilst, in my case, my mum's attitude to her spending is "it's my money, I'll do what I want with it." She's the first to suggest I take clothes back to shops when she's bought identical things, sometimes three times.

    You are blessed with a conscience! You want to do what's best for your mum. But, if you're anything like me, it will never seem good enough. You sound like you're keeping everything in order for both your sakes. From what I've read of your posts, I'm sure your record keeping is thorough and would stand up to scrutiny! Sorry, I can't offer anything in the way of constructive advice (but, hopefully, reassurance that you're not on your own). Your situation is so similar to my own, that I go through the same processes: am I right/am I wrong/what about her future?!!

    Take care.
  11. sequoia

    sequoia Registered User

    Jul 3, 2005
    I've been very concerned about the activities of EPAs for my aunt: reading your post I really wish they had showed the care, concern and responsibility that you clearly do.

    I believe The Public Guardianship Office/rules of the EPA are that you have the "best interests" of the person in mind. You obviously want your mum to retain a sense of control and freedon over her own money- and to stop her worrying about money too. The PGO as I understand it don't look over your shoulder all the time and usually trust EPAs, assuming that the EPA was chosen in good faith. I believe they don't usually require EPAs to produce receipts (although you need to keep accounts) unless someone has raised serious concerns. In my opinion, the only thing you could do is to make sure your mum is not exploited if she does have a large wad of cash on her. My aunty was taking large sums of money from her bank account and it just went, probably into others pockets unfortuantely and it put her at risk as she is quite vulnerable.

    Good luck with it all and best wishes

  12. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Feeling very mixed up

    Contacted the PGO - yup I've got to restrict her cash!!!!!

    They have suggested 'pocket money' (Ugh I HATE saying that) of £50 per week. This is without asking about her income, savings anything ....... my mother wouldn't have batted an eyelid about spending that much on lunch and a trip to the Garden Centre in one afternoon ..... when she was well even .....

    So effectively, now, mum will be 'saving up' - for what? To save the government money when her care needs increase .... for me to inherit whatever might be left?

    I'm sorry, but I can't see how this is doing my mother any earthly good .... and yes, selfishly, I'm worried how I am going to handle this ...

    My only plan of action at the minute is to take her out at weekend and buy the most expensive handbag I can find - receipted of course!!!!!!

    Soz to moan - was hoping to come back with a more positive up-date :mad:

  13. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Hi Karen

    I'm not surprised you're upset.

    While £20 is adequate for someone living in care,£50 a week is not a lot for a person living alone, even with all meals provided. An afternoon at the shops can easily account for that. It's going to be hard for you to ration your mum -- besides taking away what independence she had left.

    Secondly, it seems unreasonable to restrict her so that she'll have enough to pay NH fees. That would make me so mad. It's not as if you're withdrawing vast sums in order to deliberately deplete her funds. Quality of life seems not to count here.

    Sorry, not really offering words of comfort, can't think of any!. Just offering understanding and sympathy.

  14. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    Don't blame you about moaning xxx

    Make sure you take her to the designer shops DG bags are lovely, Burberry clothes also :D ;) (((Hugs)))
  15. Cate

    Cate Registered User

    Jul 2, 2006
    Newport, Gwent
    Hi Karen

    Well you know my feelings on this issue.

    Personally I would go out on the weekend, get mum to buy TWO pairs of very expensive shoes, AND matching handbags!!!:D

    You are doing a brill job.

    Cate xxxx
  16. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Maggie and Cate - thank you for the retail advice - knew I could count on you! :D

    Skye - you're spot on! This IS about taking away yet more independence ... the PGO clearly see 'mentally incapable' as 'mentally incapable'. I'm sure everyone here knows that comes in various shades of grey ...... in my case, mum is not able to understand a contract or what she is signing on the good days she can sign ... she IS capable, albeit occasionally, to go out and about and choose something she wants for herself and hand over cash ... or even to get her whisky and potatoes from the corner shop, bless!!!!! I have no doubt she lends herself to the potential to get short changed at times...... but I see that as a very small price to pay in the great scheme of things ...... (and a very cynical view that some people WILL take advantage of someone they recognise as being vulnerable, soz).

    Thanks to all the previous comments here, and support received this evening ... have been taking a very selfish view too ..... I am NOT prepared to have mum feeling like she is 'rationed' ...... nor am I in a position to 'subsidise' her ... although in essence that is what has been happening for a long time ....

    As Natasha said previously, the 'incidentals' mount up - not tokens we give willingly as gifts - but 'essentials' even we 'supply'???? I wonder what view the PGO would take had I told them I now account for around £30 per month on groceries/household essentials for her ..... how do they think she is managing to eat three meals a day on that kind of budget let alone keep herself and the house clean?

    So from now on ... every time I nip into the 'butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker' for a few bits and pieces I'm going to be asking for a receipt ..... I'm going to make sure she always has a supply (receipted!!!!) of whisky and potatoes .... or whatever is her 'fad' at the moment ...... so that even if she feels 'low on funds' there's nothing she really craves that she might be without .... so her £50 'allowance' will go a long, long way .....

    I feel I'm not the best 'advert' for registering an EPA - but am coming round to the fact that in trying to do the best for her (and me) I have in some way done mum and myself a disservice..... I still feel I couldn't NOT have registered ..... she was too vulnerable to losing too much financially - but I never thought she would lose quite so much independence through it ...... nor - being selfish again - that this would be such a time-consuming accounting activity for me.....

    If this just helps someone else 'go in with eyes wide open' .....

    A still very :( Karen, x
  17. Nell

    Nell Registered User

    Aug 9, 2005
    Hi Karen,
    Just a thought - and I realise it may not be any help, as I'm not sure how accurately you are required to account for your spending on behalf of your mother.

    For tax purposes, my accountant tells me that I can keep a record of certain expenses (eg. phone calls, kilometres driven for work) over a three month period, and then average this over the remainder of the year.

    Would the "powers that be" allow you to do something similar with your Mum's expenses?? That way, if you keep receipts for 3 months, you could then average that spending over the year. It would at least mean you only have to collect receipts for 3 months instead of 12.

    If there were major (or one-off) expenses, you could have these receipted separately to prove they were not part of the regular spending.

    I realise this isn't much consolation, but it might at least reduce the record keeping aspect . . . . ??? Nell
  18. janishere

    janishere Guest

    Gawd Help Us!

    Look people it is not anyone's business how your relative spends his/her money. I am staggered that any of you think you should have to ask complete strangers in Social Services or the Public Guardianship office what they think you should do! How are any of them qualified to say? They don't have any right to advise you anyway on such matters.

    Why are so many people in this country afraid of their own shadow? And so terrified of authority, they cannot make the simplest decision for themselves? No wonder this country is in the state it is in with people behaving like brainwashed zombies with no minds of their own.

    Sorry to get angry, but having to endure reading the sheer submissiveness on the part of some posters made me feel nauseous.

    The fact is in this country we have a system where the court (and the jury) decide not unqualified bureaucrats on a power trip.
  19. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    I'm sorry, but I find your post a touch offensive. We are all doing the best we can under a very difficult set of circumstances, and everyone's response will be different. However, when you are dealing with a government body that has the power (yes, the power) to judge us, it behooves us to be cautious. It may not be fair, it may not be right, but it is what it is and there is absolutely no point in setting oneself up for a fall. If a person wishes to challenge the public guardianship office all power to them, but I need to save my energy for more important. winnable battles.

  20. Ashburton

    Ashburton Registered User

    Feb 19, 2007
    Sorry relatively new to this board and mainly read posts rather than actually post, but I am confused by the whole epa issue, am I obliged to obtain an epa for my mum, I stay at home full time and we have joint accounts that do not oblige both signatures, am I doing something wrong:confused: this whole thing is slightly confusing and frightening.

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