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y the police My mother is elderly and suffers from diagnosed senile dementia. She's had one mild stroke and several TIAs. She owns her home, it is in her name and has been a homestead for many years. She has a paid in-home caregiver that sees to her needs but lately she's been plagued by a disruptive niece who came out of the proverbial woodwork after a 25 year hiatus to 'make sure she's doing well'. The niece's actions may seem altruistic but she has made a nuisance of herself.

It is well known in our family that my mother has assets in excess of $350,000. Her niece often shows up on her doorstep unannounced 'to visit'. While there, she pries into my mother's private financial affairs ("do you have a will? Who is the executor? Who is in the will?"), tries to gain access to her financial records which I manage for my mother as her primary power of attorney for finance, harasses her in-home caregiver and generally disrupts the household and makes everyone uncomfortable. My mother is very timid and doesn't want to 'cause a problem' so she allows this intrusion and just deals with it as best she can.

I've been told that there is nothing the police can do if 1) the property is in my mother's name, and 2) my mother does not tell her niece to leave. However, due to the extenuating circumstances and the adverse effects on my mother that I as a third-party observer have noticed, that's a hard pill to swallow. How can I permanently and legally get rid of this meddlesome pest on behalf of my mother?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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I apologize - I missed your statement that you are named in your mother's DPOA. They usually create broad powers; check to see if there are any that specifically address legal action, protection of financial assets, etc.

That might be the way to get the police involved.

Few further thoughts - do you think the niece has been able to access a house key to make a duplicate? If so, change the keyed locks. (This may sound somewhat paranoid, but it happened to my father).

There might be another method - put the niece to work outdoors, every time she comes over. Most yards have some need for weeding; that would keep her occupied for awhile. The goal is to make her feel exploited through working so that she decides not to come over.

It also wouldn't hurt to ask one your mother's bank representatives or an attorney how you can get a credit report on your niece. Something prompted her to suddenly show up as a prodigal after such a long absence.
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Just to clarify a few issues...

1. Is your mother in her own home or independent living (per your profile)? If the latter, you might discuss the issue with the administration and see if they have any way of blocking the niece from visiting, although I rather doubt they have the resources to get involved.

If the former, I think I would ask the caregiver to answer the door and advise the niece your mother is sleeping, or use some other excuse, and can't be disturbed. She might get the hint after being denied entry a few times. However, it does seem as though this niece has an ulterior motive.

I assume the door is kept locked so the niece couldn't just walk in?

2. Just to be creative, you could ask the caregiver to allow the niece in one last time and leave in an obvious place a created, fictitious document such as an adjudication of bankruptcy. If the niece is as determined as I think she is, though, she could verify that with a federal district court.

3. As Windy suggests, remove all financial data.

(a) Assuming you have access to her records, I would also notify holders of stocks, bonds, mutuals, etc., as well as credit cards, checking & savings accounts of the possibility of unauthorized access and ask what provisions they have in place to stop any such access.

Some banks have rapid response teams in place to identify potential fraud. Chase is one; it caught a fraudulent activity before we did, and I monitor our accounts closely.

(b) Contact one of the 3 credit reporting companies and activate a 90 day fraud alert. Reactive it every 90 days. There are longer fraud alerts that can be created but only after fraud actually occurs.

(c) SS and other ID cards should also be secured, although perhaps in a fireproof box in your mother's home so they're available if EMS needs to be called. You might want to make copies for your records as well in the event the niece has taken anything. In fact, I'd include them in your financial inventory.

4. Again if you live close and have the flexibility, go over when the caregiver notifies you the niece is there and have a heart to heart talk with her, if you think that would work.

5. Research the Texas statutes to see what provisions there are for harassment. You might find them in an anti-stalking statute. Michigan has one providing that a PPO can be requested if a person violates a notice to someone advising that no contact will be permitted. That isn't the sole grounds for issuance of a PPO, but it's kind of unique in that it doesn't limit the type of harassment but instead is inclusive.

I used this on a relative who was harassing some relatives. I sent her an e-mail notice, citing the statutory provision, and advising that if she contacted anyone in my immediate family 2 more times I would seek a PPO. Even if I didn't get it, I intended that just the threat of legal action would frighten her.

I also knew where she worked and casually mentioned in the no contact e-mail that if a PPO was obtained, it would likely be served either by a local Sheriff's deputy or police officer, and could be served on her at work. That could create significant embarrassment.

6. You could also have an attorney write a letter advising no contact is desired. Sometimes aggressive attorneys can also put some fear into someone snooping for assets.

7. It is also my understanding that the police can't act if your mother allows the niece to come. However, you state that she has some dementia - that should change the situation. Has your mother executed a DPOA, and if so, are you her attorney-in fact? In that case you might be able to pursue legal action on her behalf.
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There may be no legal means at this point to bar the niece from your moms. I'm am also POA to my parents who could be susceptible to this type of thing. It hasn't happened to Me But if it did I would immediately confront the shirttail relative, diplomatically at first, failing that, then more forcefully.

Meanwhile, make sure there's nothing in the house, documents, financial records, valuables, that she can get her
Hands on. You might even make some noise about trespassing or restraining orders, legitimate or not, to put the fear of God on this girl. I assume you've briefed the caregiver on the situation. If you and other family members live close behave the caregiver call when the pest shows up and have someone head her off or a least be present to discourage any meddling.
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If your mother has never been declared legally incompetent to make her own decisions, then I believe she would have to be the one to ask her niece to leave. You could coach your mother not to discuss financial matters with this relative, giving her some kind of reason she would be comfortable with. "Oh, I'm afraid my POA says I am not to talk about any of that information. I do tend to get things confused, you know."

If you think that your mother is incompetent (instead of just timid) and she needs protection you could look into becoming her guardian. But that will involve convincing the court of her incompetency. Would her doctors support that?
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