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Mom and Step-dad (Dad is deceased) enlisted me as their POA (and executor of their trust) to handle their affairs when they no longer could. Mom was declared incapacitated earlier this year but I have been taking care of her finances long before that. She's not good at this so she asked me to step in (she's now debt free). My sister, feeling left out of these decisions, has been writing checks and forging Mom's signature and paying some bills. Of course I see these checks on Mom's bank statements and have asked her to stop and just hold the bills until I come to see her (every two weeks). After some leg work, I finally got Mom's paychecks moved to a new account. I left the old account open with just enough funds to cover groceries, meds, and trips to the hair and nail salons. It's hard to hold my sister accountable. Even after lengthy texts explaining the consequences of forgery (although not malicious), she still continues writing and forging checks. I will do all I can to stop this.


Problem is I don't know what my next step is. She is also withholding information about the caregiver she and my niece (her daughter who lives at Mom's home with husband and 2 kids rent/utility free) have hired. I've allowed them to do this because they are there more than me. But my sister won't even give me the lady's phone number so we can talk about rate and days worked. I'm trying very hard, given my own schedule, to keep as accurate records as possible. It's my fiduciary duty and I am serious about Mom's finances and property (which I'm also joint tenants with her). I basically hold all the cards but am being disrespected. I'm also a senior (70 yrs.) and need support in this matter. I'm not a yelling, all up in your face kinda person. BTW Mom doesn't want to move to an assisted living facility or we would have been gone and I wouldn't be writing this. So the bottom line is this: Does any of this constitute abuse ? If not, is there an agency where I can file a complaint. I've looked at the county's APS but not sure if this fits. Mom's home is beautiful so I understand why they're so resentful toward me. I didn't ask for this, but I understand why I was asked. There's much more to the story but I'm just here searching for options.

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Maybe the lawyer who drew up the POA can write a letter to sister explaining that you are responsible for Moms finances and she needs to stop writing checks forging Moms name.
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Appreciate you taking the time to read my situation JoAnn29. Had the POA drawn up online through Legal Zoom. I would suggest mediation but my sister wouldn't get up off the money to straighten this out..... nor do I think she would abide by any agreement that was not in her favor. Thank you again though. Enjoy your holidays.
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I’m not sure if it constitutes abuse, if all the cheques are to pay genuine bills rather than to take money for personal use. If daughter and family are living in the house, and the bills are house bills, I can see that it might seem OK for them to organise the payments. There are similar issues about paying the carer for hours worked at a proper rate. They may resent the idea that they need to be checked up on.

Forgery has criminal implications that might be more straightforward than abuse. Once again this is tricky if there is no actual loss, and it’s more annoying for you than anything else. One option would be to get a lawyer’s ‘frightener’ letter sent to her. It’s cheap and often effective. However it will certainly make the interpersonal problems a whole lot worse. I can understand that this is very annoying for you, and that you want to do everything properly, but if you can do the paperwork when you get the bank statements, it might be worth just ignoring what is happening. People have many nastier problems, and at least this isn’t affecting your mother.
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iamhabit Nov 23, 2018
Thanks Margaret. My issue is the legality of my sibling writing checks. After Mom was declared incapacitated, her signature (forged or otherwise) should not appear on anything. The POA, in effect, turns that responsibility to me. I guess it sounds trivial as there are issues of greater concern on this site. Dealing with something that goes against my character affects me daily. The interpersonal issue doesn't concern me when it comes to business. I'm dealing with someone who feels left out (and for good reason). Our parents weren't going to leave their livelihood in the hands of someone who made a few major financial mistakes. I may consult with my lawyers but first wanted some input. Thank you again.
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It's a BIG deal if someone is forging a signature. I can "forge" my hubby's, but that's entirely different than me forging mother's on a check to myself.

Give it a second--don't go legal on her if you can help it. Talk to her, if she will not stop, then call an attorney and move that way. You hate to think that family won't all pull together on stuff like this, but stick around these boards and you'll find a LOT of financial shenanigans going on. You can definitely set up mom's checking so that it would require YOUR signature on all checks also. That would stop the theft.

You absolutely need a written contract for the woman who is caring for mom. Whether that's something you can find online or not, I don't know. But you MUST have an accounting of monies spent in mom's care.

Sis is taking advantage and that has to stop. warn her once, then take action.

Just saying this b/c my OB stole over $200K from my parents---25 years ago, when $200K was worth quite a bit more. Awful, awful, awful. ruined their "golden years" for sure. None of the rest of sibs knew until the sold their home and had almost no equity. We would have most assuredly taken action had any of us known.

Good Luck.
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iamhabit Nov 24, 2018
Thanks for your input and your story. Mine seems petty compared to what you've gone through. I've text my sister on a number of occassions about the checks and with holding information (texting allows me to keep records). She is not writing checks to herself, just to a few bills (maybe 2 or 3)that are not on my online list ( I pay all the bills online ). When asked to hold bills that are still coming to Mom's house, she goes silent (I'm up there every 2 weeks). I hold all the cards ( POA, Healthcare agent, Trust Executor) so there's resentment that she's not involved (there's good reason why she's not but that's a whole other story). I've tried to let her be involved in other ways, but she is resentful. I'll monitor this for a little longer, then I'll seek legal help. Again, thank you for your input. Enjoy the holidays.
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How does your sister get access to these checks?
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iamhabit Nov 24, 2018
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Hi, iamhabit, I know that this is not a trivial issue, and I'm sorry if my post came across that way. I think getting legal advice is a good idea, so that at least you can protect yourself. If there is any money going missing, there will be steps to take. However it's worth realising that there may be limited options if difficult sister is not actually taking money. Protect yourself as the first issue. And yes, take away access to a check book, and tell the bank not to issue a new one. Checks are getting pretty rare these days, so are you sure that she is forging the signature, rather than giving credit card details?
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iamhabit Nov 24, 2018
I monitor Mom's statements on her old account and yes she is writing checks. Problem is Mom's old checking account is in a trust (of which I'm executor) but we can't find it. So I have limited options to access it. That's the main reason I moved her to a new bank. The old account (and I replenish it monthly) is to be used, with the debit card, for groceries, meds, and hair and nail services. I agreed to that. There have been some occasional suspicious cash withdrawls but it wasn't worth getting in a huff about (I have the statements if needed). Margaret, thank you for all your input. A lawyer may be my next move. Enjoy the holidays.
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Look.

I've been scratching my head for fifteen minutes now and I still don't know how to put this.

When you bring to your sister's attention that forgery is a criminal offense - and I have been to check, and so it is in every state, although I gather that if the sums involved are not large and the intention itself is not egregious it is a misdemeanour rather than a felony - what is her response?

Is she failing to understand the criminality of what she is doing? - or does she not agree with the law?

I mean, seriously, "does this constitute abuse?" !!! It constitutes a criminal offence. She has to stop doing it!
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iamhabit Nov 24, 2018
Nail on the head. Thanks.
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A lawyer would seem appropriate and well worth the cost to bring some peace to the situation. Even just speaking to an attorney and getting their input could help.
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Iamhabit, I appreciate your wish to deal delicately with this, and I also appreciate the fact that it's your sister who is, so to speak, in the trenches - handling your mother's day to day tasks for her.

But I do get the impression that you haven't really been frank with her; and on the face of it this is really simple. If your sister, or another family member, is signing your mother's name on her checks that has to stop, immediately, and if it happens again after you have spelled this point out you must go to the police.

You have POA for your mother, you are responsible for her financial welfare, and should it come to light that repeated forgeries took place of which you were aware and you did nothing - you'll be complicit.

Be understanding and proportionate in the way you explain this, by all means, but for heaven's sake don't be squeamish.
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MargaretMcKen Nov 24, 2018
Country mouse, it's actually really tricky. I just checked our own local law, and both forgery and fraud as criminal offences require someone to be benefited or disbenefited by the action. Making copies or telling lies may or may not do this, and they are of course both very common. Sorting it out would be good, but defamation is lurking in the background here if 'criminal' allegations are chucked around too openly. If no money is being taken, a judge (or prosecutor) is quite likely to say 'this is a storm in a teacup, sort it out yourselves and don't waste the court's time'. iamhabit needs to protect himself, yes.
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Talk to the bank as well and tell them the signatures are being forged on those cheques. As has been pointed out, this is a criminal offence and no more blank cheques should be issued to any one but you. The "suspicious" cash withdrawals are a concern even of they are small amounts. It could be the thin end of the wedge. Your sis should not have any access to your mum's funds. That is your job.
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Idly curious as ever, I couldn't resist Googling "oh heck I've lost my trust documents..."

The range of options seems a bit limited without the name of the original firm to hand (nothing in any old address books or card indexes?) but what does seem very clear is that you must do something about this. If your sister really wanted to make trouble out of sheer pique she could have a field day with this.

The bank can't give you any details of the trust with your mother's own verbal permission backed up by your DPOA? If the account is connected to it would they not have information? - a file reference, a law firm's letterhead, anything?
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Rent/Utility free?
In exchange for what?

Do you even know the original agreement btwn Mom, Dad, and the family living rent free? Maybe they were expected to pay the utilities?

What bills are Sister paying? Something for Mom? Does Mom need internet, cell phones, etc.

A POA does not "give away" Mom's money, does not pay for gifts, groceries for others,

Maybe take your POA more seriously, at the very least, require receiots, contracts, explanations in writing. Stop by when they do not expect you.....maybe there is NO caregiver if you have not met her? Look into the refrigerator.....is there food for Mom, or just a lot of kids food? Is the family responsible for some of Mom's care?

I do understand your challenges at age 70, but this arrangement, non-arrangement is ripe for theft and exploitation. And sister does not explain? Take the checkbook.
Find a better way, such as grocery gift cards, ask for receipts before you give more.

Maybe there is nothing unusual, but account for it......
If you are not handling the money, somebody else will.
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iamhabit Nov 25, 2018
First: I'm serious about my duties. It's why I'm here. There was no formal agreement. My niece and her husband were expecting a child. They asked my Mom if they could move up to her house because their neighbors were noisy and she couldn't sleep. That was 6years and another baby ago. There was no formal contract written or otherwise. They didn't keep their word. For me, you are no longer trustworthy. But this is Mom's lesson.

Mom didn't ask for rent/utilities 'cause she (and I) thought they'd be gone. Now Mom is suffering from Alzheimers and needs care. My niece just hired herself to fill that position. Problem is there's a conflict of interest. You can't watch Mom and your take care of your kids. There's no accountability.

There's just too much story to type here.

My sister is probably resentful for not being a part of Mom's and Stepdad's affairs. There's good reason for that and she knows it. I've explained the consequences of what she's doing but she just ignores me. You can disrespect me.. that's your choice. But I won't tolerate being disrespected...my choice.

Know this: I am not giving away Mom's money. I don't know where you got that from. Maybe I've just not been clear here..I get that sometimes.She's debt free. I moved her payroll deposits and all the money to a new bank. I kept the old acct. open with just enough to cover her necessities. I replenish it periodically.

I'm just here to get input on plugging a small leak and taking to task the person Interfering with this.

So far, most feel this a criminal offense (forgery). I'll get with my lawyer and the firm to take the initial action.

I do appreciate your input....honestly.
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