Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Power of Attorney is scary and I need help

#1

Hey Y’all,

Some recent events have had multiple people suggesting that I need to have my husband’s power of attorney. Up until now, I thought power of attorney was a pretty serious thing reserved only for dire circumstances like a completely incapacitated individual (very very elderly, or special needs individuals) My husband is, by most outside perspectives, highly functional for an individual with SZA. He has a job, he mostly has insight for when he is starting to be symptomatic, he is med compliant. Most of his perceived functionality relies on intensive support from me, and emergency precautions we have in place. (psychiatrist available for emergencies, our budget is not dependent on his income, etc)

The immediate problem is that he can’t do most administrative things on his own. I handle all of our finances, taxes, retirement, applications, etc. (For example, he accidentally broke our garbage disposal, and insisted that because he broke it, he needs to put in the work order with our apartment to come fix it. That was … a while ago. We still do not have a working garbage disposal.)

I like to joke about it, but it’s also not especially funny. It’s almost a trigger for him, because he starts to get angry that he has so much trouble, and then he starts feeling paranoid that “the government is trying to trick him” with the forms/bureaucratic red tape. I usually do the paperwork to avert a paranoia cycle, or worse.

Recently, I was on the phone trying to deal with a financial matter in my husband’s name. I had a legal adviser working with me, but we had to stop because she couldn’t legally work with me on my husband’s behalf without power of attorney. She was otherwise super helpful, but we’re at a roadblock. I could have my husband with me to just be there and consent to things, but that seems like a dangerous stressor. She advised me that power of attorney would only help me care for my husband, especially if he gets to a point where he is hospitalized again.

What should I do here?

#2

Hi laughingsteps,

I would say you’ve answered your own question here. If I were in your place, I would definitely look into getting power of attorney. As your husband works and is highly functional, you would most likely not run into many problems. How does your husband feel about the idea? If he is OK with it, what would the drawbacks be, from your perspective?

In my case, although I have helped my husband out of countless financial jams (because he cannot manage his disability funds at all and is always doing things such as overdrawing bank accounts or racking up parking tickets), so far we have kept our finances separate and he prefers to represent himself in legal situations. My husband is also paranoid and tries every chance he has to “get back” at the government and prove that “they” are wrong.

#3

My husband is actually enthusiastic about it, as it gives him permission to really leave most of his matters to me. I’m nervous about it, though, because I don’t want him to be stuck if something happens to me.
Also, I worry that it might be brought up and used against me in his mind, because when he is especially paranoid, he will start thinking that I am one of the people who is trying to trick him. I’ve tried to make sure I only use my paycheck in our budget because otherwise, he starts to blame me for why he has no money.

Thank you for your comment, though. It helped me realize that I’m pretty scared of PoA mostly because it really cements the fact that I am responsible for my husband. I have constant little reminders, but this is just freaking real. It makes me feel sick and scared.

#4

I hope talking with a lawyer to establish the power of attorney will lessen your fears. There could always be a chance that you will run into a situation that will make your husband uncomfortable and where you disagree, but that happens in any marriage.

As for being afraid of what potentially would happen to you, you can also look into care management/estate planning for yourself while you’re looking into the PofA.

Be strong! You’re doing a good thing for him and for you as a couple.

#5

I think if it makes things easier and he supports it go for it, it can always be canceled