My sister mismanaged her POA rights at finances. She is living rent free in my Mom's duplex. The house has a reverse mortgage that was just sold to another company. Mom has not been in the home since July 2014. It was to be a temporary stay, where my sister refused to allow Mom to come home. My sister and her ex husband along with her children, emptied my Mom's estate. Large trips, RV purchase, credit cards in my ex brother-in-laws name, etc.
The reverse mortgage is in the process of forclosing on my Mom's property because my sister defaulted on the loan TWICE!! She is even getting ready to rent my Mom's unit for her own gain. How do I stop her when I don't have any funds? I was laid off from my job and haven't been able to find work because of this issue. Please help. I am locating in the bay area so it would be Ca law.
Financial institutions must report suspected financial abuse. The banker calls in a complaint of suspected financial abuse to the county APS, then he or she must complete and submit the form within 2 days of the phoned-in complaint. The banker must be made aware of the suspected financial abuse by either Mom or by the banker's review of Mom's account records, statements, receipts, cancelled checks, etc. The banker cannot merely take your word for it - there has to be questionable transactions in the account that the banker can review after you talk to him/her, or your Mom must tell the banker herself.
You can do most of this stuff yourself, but be prepared for it to take a LOT of your time and mental energy. Most local and state Elder Abuse investigators have overwhelming case loads, so you will be doing much of the leg work for them if you want your Mom's case to get any resolution or justice.
TO DO RIGHT NOW #1: If you haven't done so already, contact the local police department which has jurisdiction over Mom's house. File an elder financial abuse complaint. Tell the police you will be contacting the state's Attorney General Office's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse (BMFEA) as well, so they can coordinate with them.
TO DO RIGHT NOW #2: If you haven't done so already, contact the CA Dept. of Justice - State Atty General Office's Bureau on Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse (BMFEA). File an elder financial abuse complaint by phone, online or snail mail. The online complaint form is here: https://oag.ca.gov/bmfea/reporting . Tell BMFEA you have already reported this to the local police so they can coordinate with them.
TO DO RIGHT NOW #3: File a fraud alert on your Mom's behalf (and with her knowledge and permission) with any one of the three credit bureaus - Experian, TransUnion, Equifax. You don't have to contact all three. When a fraud alert is filed with one credit bureau, it automatically notifies the other two. This will make it harder for your sister or anyone else to obtain credit under your Mom's name and Social Security number. This is a free service.
TO DO RIGHT NOW #4: This is the hardest one to do, but it's super important. Get your sister's POA revoked (cancelled) and replaced with a new POA granting attorney-in-fact privileges to someone more trustworthy immediately. This will require your Mom being willing and mentally able to participate in canceling the old POA and assigning the new one. Does your Mom know and understand what's going on with her finances in your sister's hands? Is Mom mentally sharp enough and willing to make a change in her POA? If not, does Mom have a court-appointed guardian?
Mom may think that a POA is a "permanent" decision and cannot be changed. This is simply not true - she has the right to cancel any POA at any time as long as she is not considered mentally incompetent to do so. You will need to understand that it may be really hard emotionally for your Mom to cancel your sister's POA. By doing this, Mom is essentially admitting that her own child took undue advantage of her, and that is a painful admission for any mother. Make sure Mom understands that your sister's actions prove she is not looking out for Mom's best interest.
Do you have a copy of the POA for your sister? If so, read it. The POA document should include instructions on how to revoke the POA. If you do not have a copy of your sister's POA, get one by contacting the county clerk's office where it was recorded (probably the county where Mom's house is located). It is best to go the county clerk's office in person. If you live too far away to do that, then be prepared to spend some time on the telephone. POA's are public records, so don't let anyone at the county clerk's office try to get out of helping you obtain a copy. They should be able to look it up in their computer by searching Mom's name or your sister's name. A copy of the POA might cost a few dollars for you to obtain - I'd guess less than $20 in most states. Ask if they can scan and email a PDF file of your sister's POA to you since this is an emergency. Don't go into detail with county clerk employees as to why you want a copy. You never know who knows your sister or her family.
The new, replacement POA does not have to be created or filed by an attorney. If you have an attorney involved, then it would be best to get the new POA prepared by the law office. But, this is something that any citizen can do for themselves. The county clerk's office cannot give you legal advice, but you can ask if they have a standard POA form available for use by the general public. A new POA will need to be completed with notarized signatures (many banks offer notary service for free), then filed with the county clerk's office (there will be a filing fee, usually less than $20 in most states).
TO DO WITH NEW POA: Follow the revocation instructions found in the old POA. Send copies of the POA revocation document by USPS certified mail, return receipt requested to your sister, and another copy sent by regular snail mail (that way she can't say she never got it if she refuses to accept the certified letter). Send more copies by regular mail to anyone else that you think she gave her POA to. Banks, mortgage lenders, credit bureaus, utility companies, credit card companies, etc.
TO DO RIGHT NOW #5: Find out if your sister's name is on the titles to Mom's home and rental properties (you can get this information from the county clerk's office while you're taking care of the POA), also bank accounts, credit cards, mortgage and other loans, life insurance policies beneficiary, co-owner or beneficiary for any investment accounts like IRA's, 401(k)'s, annuities, etc. Again, with Mom's knowledge and permission, take the necessary steps needed to get your sister's name off of those accounts, if needed. Add a different family member's name (like whoever is the new POA) to accounts if that's what Mom wants and it's in her best interest.
If your sister or her ex-husband's name(s) is included on the reverse mortgages, credit cards, RV loan, other loan or credit accounts for things they bought and used or are still using, leave their name(s) on the account(s).
Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or need some support. Good luck - I'm keeping you and your Mom on my prayer list.
APS certainly is variable. I'm in the Bay Area so we have several counties around me, each with their own APS office. Sometimes APS does nothing and sometimes they are almost over-zealous. I don't know yet if this is a county effect or if it just depends on which APS worker and supervisor are involved. Definitely try your local APS office and see what happens. Sometimes it's good to call repeatedly too.
APS should be able to answer your questions regarding getting a medical evaluation. I have occasionally gotten faxes from APS requesting the medical info I have on a patient, or asking me to complete a form related to capacity.
You can also try the police...I have no personal experience with that route but might help. Lastly, I would think an elderlaw attorney might be helpful, and the local Agency on Aging might be able to help you find someone that fits with your financial situation.
Good luck, it's a very difficult situation!