Power of attorney.

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Two years ago my mother, while in sound health and mind, made me, her son, power of attorney. At this time, her relationship with my sister was strained and since my sister is an RN, she was made my mother's MPOA. Though I am my mother's POA, I live about 900 miles away. When these documents were initiated, we were the same distance apart. My mom's health and awareness are now failing and my sister is her primary caregiver. My mom stayed with my sister previously when she was in good health and it was a disaster. My mom had to move to independent living. Now my sister is providing excellent care for my mom, but she is trying to take control of her finances, as well. She is going out of her way to prevent me from fulfilling my duties as mom's POA and attempting to set up other accounts by dragging my mom to different banks and establishing new accounts and transferring funds from where I have established POA. Now she has taken my mother to her attorney to revoke my POA and establish a POA under the pretense of needing her POA closer to mom. The attorney won't allow her to revoke my POA, but suggested that a trust be established with a neutral party as trustee. Her attorney suggested a bank as trustee, but there are fees involved and when my mom was in good health and before making me her POA, she wanted no part of a trust. I feel that my mom is being manipulated and there is no need for any changes. What do I need to do to best provide my mom her wishes?

22 Comments

You are getting good advice from that attorney.
Should you and sis decide to battle in court over Guardianship, the outcome will be the same. When family disagrees, the Judge appoints a neutral Guardian. Avoid spending thousands in legal fees; do the Trust.
Obviously your sister either feels entitled or feels you to be incompetent. If you currently have poa move all the money to your name. Assuming your mom is not competent Is she has a will that will dictate her final wishes. Keep track of all spendings used for your mothers care.
A trust is a good way to go and the fees should be nominal, but that also depends on what it will do. Even if Mom didn't like a trust, she asked you to be her POA. She gave you the authority to make decisions. If you have researched the options and feel that it is best for all concerned then proceed with a trust. Ultimately you want to make sure her financials are there for her when she needs them.
Speak up! Be your mother's advocate and threaten your sister with legal action if she tries to change anything without your consent. Yours will not be the first sibling rivalry that ends in court. I've been there, done that and won for my mother's sake. Do what you have to do because your mother trusted you with everything tangible, your sister with medical. Hang in there!
If you set up a trust, you need to be sure ALL the accounts are transferred to the trust, including any investment accounts. This could be more expensive than you think, especially if your sister has set up accounts and won't give you the bank account number info.
As POA, don't you have the right to go to those other banks and close out the accounts?
I have the opposite going on. A sibling was POA - abused his power, was removed as POA. Now I'm POA and he's trying to hijack everything I'm doing and is still engaging in all sorts of madness and mayhem. We will be going to court over this. But the best piece of advice I can give you is to HIRE AN ELDER LAW ATTORNEY. If you think your Mother is in danger then contact Adult Protective Services.
Until another POA is established you are legally the POA. Distance should not be an issue and you have may have to let your sister know in no uncertain terms that you will not sit by and let her take control of her finances without contacting the appropriate authorities. If you know what banks the new accounts are in you can contact them and let them know that you have POA.
On the other hand the issue of competency may arise. If your mom is still alert/oriented and has not been deemed incompetant she can make banking decisions without consulting anyone else. If she goes to a bank and opens accounts with your sister you may not have any recourse but I would not stop there. It sounds as though your sister is taking advantage of the situation. Do talk to an attorney that is specific in this area. Without going the trust route you may get the appropriate advice on how to handle this and what your rights are as far as getting the accounts reversed.
My best guess would be to go for guardianship, It gives you power over everything.
Honestly, I only wish I had a sibling to take my place as caregiver and POA so I could move 900 miles away. I would let your sister do whatever she must do to take care of your mom, which probably includes managing finances, and count your blessings. Unless you would rather take her place and do all the hard work?

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