Objective advice needed

This is going to be a long one because I need to set the context, so bear with me!

As most of you know my husband sustained a severe brain injury nearly 3 years ago. He had such a devastating raft of injuries and complications the prognosis and therefore our furture was bleak.

Fast forward to today and the reality could not be more different. My husband has made an extraordinary recovery in the context of where our expectations were set. He's still a very damaged man, but our lives today and the future are anything but bleak. We are trying and, in many ways, suceeding to create a new normal.

Throughout this journey my sister in law has been my silver lining; we alternately held each other up during the acute phase which lasted many months and was punctuated by many heart stopping crises and, as we have moved into the long haul of rehab and recovery she has been a great sounding board and invaluably patient listener. Without brain injury we may never have been close and I can honestly say today that I love her like my own sister.

When my husband was very ill we took the decision as a family, on the advice of the solicitors pursuing the civil claim, to appoint their financial deputy through the court of protection. This is done when the individual has no capacity to either manage their own affairs, or make decisions about who they would like to do that for them. This was without question the right thing to do at the time.

The requirements of a court appointed deputy are many. Record keeping, justifying and evidencing all spend is required. This is a crucially important service for someone with no capacity, but can be bloody awful if you happen to be that person's spouse! Seeking permission for decisions that most people wouldn't give a second thought to over a long period of time is no fun at all, not to mention the vast amount of admin required; in the context of everything else you have to deal with in our situation, it's a massive pain in the arse. It's also nothing like the 'normal' any other married couple would recognise.

Imagine my relief then, when exploring whether it would make sense for me to become Jake's deputy I discovered that there is a sort of half way house solution. When the individual's capacity develops and they are assessed as having the capacity to decide who they would like to manage their affairs and that they understand what that means, the court of protection appointed deputy approach is no longer necessary or appropiate and a lasting power of attorney order should be introduced. LPOA doesn't have half the reporting requirements and, most importantly, the individual whose estate it applies to is much more involved. This advice came from the Office of the Public Guardian and the chap I spoke to stressed that it was soley the individual's decision who they appointed, was usually the spouse and that the family didn't have to be involved at all unless we specifically wanted them to be. "Well, why wouldn't they be involved?" I mused. "Hmm..." was his noncommital response.

At the time I thought this was odd. Now I wonder if it wasn't borne from experience!

I duly provided my sister in law with all this information both on the phone and in a follow up email with useful links attached, proposing that she and I act jointly on his behalf.

Her response? She is very clear that she is "comfortable" with the current arrangement and doesn't want it to change. This has saddened me for two reasons; the first is that, despite trusting me to bear the day to day burdons, decisions and personal sacrafices of supporting her severely brain injured brother through a challenging recovery over the last three years (I don't need to tell anyone here what that's like!), she doesn't trust me to have his best interests in mind when it comes to the money. The second is that she doesn't seem to want Jake and therefore us as a couple to have the same normal as any other married couple with regards to managing our finances; if he is no longer without capacity then surely he and we derserve the right to some normal, even if that's via LPOA? I tried to explain all this to her yesterday, but she shares the same bloody-mindedness gene that has characterised my husband's remarkable fight to recovery!

I'm sure being some distance away and not having to do any of the work or deal with any of the day to day frustrations and discomfort of the deputy arrangement is 'comfortable' for her, but I wonder how she would feel if the same rules were applied to her marriage and her husband?

I get that all of this is highly emotive and difficult for ALL involved, especially as their mother is very ill and their brother has a complicated medical condition and she is bearing the brunt of this. I do NOT want to fall out with her over this, she is my friend and my husband's beloved sister, but I just don't know what to do next.

The way I feel this morning after a sleepless night is that we should just go ahead and do it with me acting soley, which he his open to and we are free to do once his capacity has been formally assesed. I am very aware however that my husband will be influenced by my view (also 'normal' for a husband and wife!) and I don't want my hurt to send us in the wrong direction and sway him to a decision he may regret.

All the signs are that, if he continues to recover as he has, he will have full capacity in a few years, so all this will be moot, it just feels very, very wrong to me today.

Please let me know what you think. I truly want to do the right thing for my husband, me and our new normal.

Thank you for bearing with me!

Charliex

16 Replies

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  • Families are a difficult situation, if it was me I wouldn't want any interference from anyone. These people wouldn't be involved in a normal situation and I can understand you want support to help you know you are doing the right thing. Trust your own instincts on this you are an intelligent and capable woman, it would help you to have astounding board I know but you will always do the best for Jake and yourself, it is your, both of you, life and you know what is best.

    It doesn't always do to involve anyone else, the decisions will not impact directly on that person so I cannot see why they should have such a direct involvement.

    The response from the chap at the Office of the Public Guardian is very telling in my eyes, he obviously has seen the pitfalls, I know which way I would go. If it was me I would want my husband solely, I know he would have our best interests at heart and he knows my wishes regarding my children from my first marriage,

    Hope this helps Love Janet xxxx

  • Hi Charlie. I agree with Janet. As his wife, you should be able to make the decisions for Jake. It is perfectly clear to anyone who reads your blog that you have his best interests at heart.

    When Andy was in rehab he was assessed as having the capacity to nominate me to have LpA. With the support of his medical team we applied thought the Gov.uk website and I now manage all his finances, with his brother having joint and several rights. As his brother lives in Spain he doesn't get involved but I would probably contact him if Andy needed to make a significant purchase. We are not married and have separate flats, so there was no cost involved in making this arrangement given that his only income is benefits. He doesn't have complicated finances though, so it's all very straightforward.

    I can't imagine why anyone would feel the need to put you through extra stress. The admin involved with managing someone's care is already overwhelming, without the added worry of noting every newspaper or whatever that they decide to buy.

    I would say go for it. SIL will soon see that you are managing beautifully and not planning to run off with Jakes fortune.

    Don't know about you, but the new normal isn't that easy to adapt to sometimes! Very pleased to know that Jake is progressing so well though.

    Feel free to message me if you want to know any more about the PoA, or anything else for that matter.

    Take care

    Jane

  • I agree with Janet... From what I have seen you have always been a determined advocate, fighting for what is best for Jake and what is right for you as a couple as you rebuild your lives the best way you can.

    In normal circumstances nobody in the family would have any say in these matters and if Jake trusts you (and why wouldn't he?) I see no reason not to trust your own instincts on this.

    I am guessing that guy knew what he was talking about... families are strange beasts indeedy and at times of stress they can behave in ways we might not expect and that are disappointing. You did what you thought was right by involving them... but maybe now is time to "quietly" go about your business.

    I say trust yourself in this... I have always thought how lucky Jake was to have you on his side. I would be happy to have you in my corner any day ...

  • Thank you ladies. Both Jake & I have read and are grateful for your replies xxxx

  • Hi Jake ...

  • Hi there

    I would say that you are next of kin and have been there throughout so go it alone. His sister should be honoured that you even considered giving her joint control. You are a very special person to consider it.

    Jake trusts you and is well enough now to approve this. You are husband and wife and it is the business of the two of you and nobody else.

    When my hubby was incapable of managing any of his finances, I did it. I was always a touch wary so simply kept a note of every transaction in and out for my comfort. So if anybody ever dared to make an accusation or judgement I would have it to hand.

    Like you I had no real reason to justify myself as I always worked in my hubby's best interest. But you never know how others might behave even when you think you are close to them.

    I think you should go for it and explain yourselves to nobody otherwise how are you expected to establish your new normal as man and wife.

    You are both an inspiration and I hope you can get over this small hurdle with no hurt pain or bad feeling

    Xxxxxx

  • I was in a very similar situation though did not go the court of protection route, we went straight to LPOA. Thank your sister in law very much for her huge help over the last three years but inform her that things have now moved on & therefore you are going to go down the LPOA route as it bests suits your husband & you. My husband manages many of our money affairs now, but with the agreement between us that he discusses everything with me before doing it - something that works for both of us. The LPOA is there in case I need to manage things again if husband looses mental capacity but as he was regaining his he gradually took things back at a pace both he & I felt comfortable with. (he also made an amazing recovery after we nearly lost him & were given dire predictions about his recovery). Unless family live with you they have no idea about how you manage on a day to day basis & three years is a long time for someone to continue supporting from a long way away. His sister also may only see the improvements that she wants to etc.

    you both have to do what is best for your partnership so have the courage of your convictions & do what you both feel is best for the future, not the past. Good luck

  • Agree with others - go for it. The man's comment definitely borne from experience. Even otherwise good family dynamics can go awry with money and even more so when people are going through grief and stress. My friend was a warden of a sheltered housing scheme had she witnessed some really nasty stuff with families when her tenants diedn and I learned to ever underestimate how horrible it can all get. with families and money. And I've been through a bit with my family as family members died etc and money/property etc comes into it. When my Mum had her stroke I sorted Enduring Power of Attorney for my sister and I but in practice she totally trusted me to get on with it, although I did discuss things - she never wanted to see accounts or anything. My Dad was also going through stuff so we sort of divided it up and I equally trusted her.

    If you don't need her permission legally, I would get things underway and when you are further down the process and it is clear it will happen, you could write to her to explain, as you did to us, that you don't want it to hurt the relationship, how much you value her amazing support, but that now you need to move forward to a more normal way of organising family finances. In my experience sometimes better to write/email so you can get the nuances of your communication and the person can really reflect and understand what you are saying without an instant verbal response or getting it a confrontational conversation. Obviously she can ring you to discuss but at least you've put the context clearly. She may be grateful once it is done to have one less thing to worry about if she is dealing with difficult situations. If she is stressed, possibly her response might have been a feeling of not wanting anything else to deal with. And as you are the one that it affects rather than her, be brave and do what is right for you and Jake now.

  • I agree with all the comments above.

    You've been through hell and now that things are improving I see no reason why anyone but you and your husband should have any control over your finances. You clearly have his best interests at heart. If he'd never been ill, his sister would not have had any input. She doesn't need it now. Sort of sounds like your husband agrees, judging by his noncommital response.

    If he's able & willing to give you control, just take it and use it for your joint benefit. In his situation that's what I'd want my wife to do because I trust her more than anyone alive. If his sister has a problem with that, she's not really the friend you think she is. And remember - you don't choose your sister, but you do choose your wife!

    Best wishes

    M

  • There isn't anything left for me to say except that I agree wholeheartedly with all other comments. I've never doubted that you are more than capable to take on these responsibilities and, as everyone agrees, who better than you would have Jake's best interests truly at heart. xx

  • Hi Charlie, I read your post with interest and dismay for you when you said how your SIL's attitud has changed. I worked for a Solicitor back in UK for 3 years, where he looked after a client's affairs, under the COP. I also witnessed 1st hand, the attitude of some family siblings, when we were handling the wishes of a will drawn up by a parent, so understand the 'hmm' and emotional dilemma you now face.

    I have gone through something akin, in the last year, in reverse I guess.I had the BI (SAH?) 5 weeks after leaving my husband. Our son, gave his father the money to buy me out of my half of jointly owned home.

    My BIL encouraged me to move nearer to him and his wife, which I did, then got a load of sob stories, so lent them a lot of money! I ended up having to threaten to use Bailiff to get it back, which I finally have now. I also find I've been manipulated and spent money to pay people to help me with things here in France, the money has been handed out and I have to chase to get the work I paid for done properly. Its amazing what people will do if they think there is an opportunity to take advantage of a situation, to their own benefit.

    YOU are your husbands next of kin - he is improving - I like to think I am starting to - other worse health issues for me are a different matter. I have cut off from my BIL, its easier for me - perhaps not so, for you with your SIL, I understand that - but Jake is your No. 1 priority, he is happy with how you are managing things - his continuing improvement is to both of your advantage, you concentrate on that - other people have other motives - you continue to keep your financial records as continual evidence, in case of conflict, and stay as Jake's Guardian until the time comes when he is assessed as being capable of managing his own affairs competently. God knows I could do with a Charlie Angel !

    I have just tried to put things a little into some context for you Charlie, from both sides of coin and hope it helps. Best wishes for Jakes continuing recovery to you both. Shirley xx

  • I'm not sure why Charlie needs to keep financial records any more. If her husband is deemed competant to give her power of attorney, and is happy to do so, surely that makes them a functioning married couple and everyone else can but out of their affairs..

    My Dad gave me PoA some years ago. Fortunately I never needed to invoke it but, if I had, I would not have felt any need to explain myself to a third party. My Dad trusted me and I would have done the right thing by him.

  • There is still a requirement for record keeping with LPOA so even with Jake's increasing involvement, Charlie would still need to fulfil those requirements but they are far less onerous than those required for the Court of Protection

  • Hi Chrlie, I've been trying to figure out why your SIL has responded to this the way she has and the only thing I can think of is that you are entering new uncharted waters. She hasn't walked in your shoes so much as watched you from a distance and in that respect she hasn't felt the pain that you have felt having everything scrutinised the way you have had.

    I absolutely believe you should take control and if you are concerned about hurting your SIL's feeling or causing any upset, maybe keep it to yourself if it is possible. Then when Jake is capable of taking control himself again no-one will be any the wiser.

    As everyone has already said here, you have always had Jake at the very heart of your decision making, it is clear that you are both so in love and although this new era is bringing a tough choice (hasn't every step?) the massive positive is that you have worked together to get to where you are.

    Good luck whatever choice you make, Anne-Marie

  • Oh Anne-Marie, you make excellent sense as ever! I know there is no malice in here intent; I'm just sad that she feels she can't trust us to move forward.

    We are going to go ahead and get some more formal legal advice and start the process on the basis of doing it on our own in the knowledge that we are doing what's right for us.

    Thanks for your balanced support!

    C x

  • At the back of her mind she's thinking of the few who have fleeced a relative of their money because they could. I know someone who did the shopping for their elderly mother and asked for £100 for a basket of groceries, and £100 for doing the washing. She's being ultra protective in an unconscious way. It's not aimed at you, it's her own insecurity about making the right decisions for him.

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