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My sister cares for my Mom who has dementia and has been living with my mother for 6 years. Since then my mother has been diagnosed with dementia. My sister has power of attorney. I have suspected for 4 years that my sister has been taking mom's money. Over the past 4 months, other relatives have expressed to me their concerns. I have talked to my sister but she will not let me help her and will not let my mother visit me. Recently I saw credit card statements with balances worth thousands of dollars. The purchases are not things for mom. I do not know where to begin to help my mom. I do not have money to hire an attorney. In addition mom is not getting the care she needs emotionally and physically but I can not prove it.

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If the house next door is being robbed, would you call an attorney? No, you call the cops. So çall the cops.
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The attorney who managed my parents will and their powers of attorney has passed away. My uncle is helping me find an attorney. I am overwhelmed, scared, ashamed, and angry. I don't know where to begin. I do not have money to hire an attorney. I do own a property that I could use a collateral. Where do I start and how do I protect my mom as this begins? She is so fragile and my sister will go ballistic when this starts. In the past my sister has upset my mom and mom has called me crying. Mom truly has no idea what is happening on a minute by minute basis let alone with more complex matters.
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Ann, this is terribly difficult.

If you are absolutely sure about the bank statements' showing payments from your mother's account that could not possibly be for anything of hers, or made with her permission, then I agree with Pam that you ought to report this to APS. It is elder abuse and it's serious. It is also not going to go down well if it can be shown that you and other family members were aware of the abuse and did nothing about it.

If there is room for doubt, though, you could send your sister information about the correct administration of vulnerable elders' accounts and see if that gives her a jolt. I don't know which authorities are responsible for overseeing powers of attorney in the US, but a quick internet search, if you're discriminating about what's on offer, should suggest a number of authoritative guides.

Ah! - Here you go. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a pdf called "Managing Someone Else's Money - help for agents under a power of attorney." I can't put the web address on here because the moderators don't like it, but it's a consumer finance.gov website and looks just the thing.

Now, then. It may be that your sister has already got herself neck deep in trouble. I'm impressed that you're still interested in helping her, which I think is an exceptionally constructive attitude - well done. It's a matter of getting her to come clean if she has made a mess of this, rather than just getting herself in deeper in an effort to get away with it. Do you have a friendly family lawyer, such as the one who drew up the POA, you could consult?
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My mother has a large money market account as well as other assets. My father's retirement should be more than enough to keep my comfortable. My sister does not pay room and board. She uses my mom's car as her own. She uses my mom's banking account, money market account, and credit cards. She lets everyone know that she is entitled because she has taken care of our mother. My sister says she has made many sacrifices. My sister does not work and was asked to resign from her last job. (More than 8 years ago) She and her husband are living well out their means. They just went on a cruise and bought a BMW. They have purchased expensive electronics and much more. Some of the charges on my mom's credit card are for their cell phone bill, car parts( my brother in law collects cars) They have remodeled my mom's home removing her furniture and buying new which are not suitable for Mom's physical needs. My mom and sister live in a state 14 hours away. I call and visit on a regular basis. Other members of the family do as well. We have noticed an extravagant amount of spending within the past 4 months. When I asked her about it she became extremely defensive and will not address my concerns. My sister was doing the best she could in the beginning. She is burned out and will not allow anyone to help or give her a break. Recently, she has made excuses about mom visiting us. In the past this has not been a problem. Other members of the family believe my sister is trying to alienate mom so she can cover up what she is doing. In addition, when we see mom at her home, she is always in her pajamas, sleeping on the couch all day. She is not eating well, losing muscle tone, not sleeping well at night. When has been allowed to stay with us, she is up, dressed, active, going, happy, alert, and eating well. My sister says mom does not want to do anything and that she can not and will not make Mom do things. My sister is lazy, stays on the couch watching TV, and staying on the Internet. She does not clean or cook. My mother is unaware and not able to know what her finances are. Her memory have deteriorated. Mom things that she pays her own bills, drives her car, that she is great physical shape. She asks the same question or statements repeatedly. She does not know where she is or when she last saw or spoke to someone. She thinks she cleans and cooks. She can not dress herself, manage her medicine, and most be reminded to take bath. My sister and mother's relationship is unhealthy and co-dependent. Mom does not give money to my sister. If mom was aware of what was happening she would be so angry. Mom was always cautious with her money making only necessary purchases and occasional extra special purchases. My sister has never been motivated or productive. Mom always encouraged my sister do more, but my sister has always been disorganized and lazy. She seems to have an undiagnosed mental health issue as she over eats and over spends. The rest of the family including myself want to help my sister and protect Mom. I don't know how to begin without making matters worse when my sister resents me and is depressed.
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Intervention? Visit often with more relatives and find out by talking openly with Mom and Sis? At least as step one..
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The "but I can not prove it" is the hard part!

Does your mother have a large estate? Does she have assets and funds to be stolen? Is you mother paying for her room and board and for her care? Explain a little more about the financial arrangements.

How/why does your sister "not let my mother visit me." Do you mean she cannot come to your house? Are you asking for a few hours in the afternoon or a few days or what? How close do you live to your sister's? How would Mom get there? Does she allow you to visit freely with Mom in her house? Please explain a little more about this. Isolating an elder from her family can be serious, but more details will help us understand what is going on.

The credit card statements that you saw -- these were for cards in your mother's name? If Sis is buying things on Mother's credit cards and then paying the debts with Mother's money, that would be a violation of POA responsibility. If Sis is paying the bills with her own money, that would be different. And if Mom is "giving" these things to Sis, that is gray area.

What makes you think that Mom is not getting the care she needs? I understand how hard these things can be to prove, but what is causing you to conclude this? Can you give us some examples?

You definitely want to protect Mom from poor care or financial abuse, while at the same time you want to be supportive of a caregiver who is doing her best.

Provide more specifics and maybe we can help you sort this out.
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You don't have to hire an attorney. Get those statements and file an elder abuse complaint with the county APS (Adult Protective Services) Let them hold her feet to the fire for a while.
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