My sister-in-law went behind our backs and claimed Power of Attorney, removing my husband and I. What can we do?

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My mother-in-law has dementia and has been in a nursing home for several years. My husband and I had durable POA jointly during this time. He made the decisions, but I was on it because I actually handled ALL of the day to day paperwork. We just received a notice from an attorney today that our POA had been terminated and my sister-in-law was now POA. She had mentioned that she wanted to talk to my husband about it a few weeks ago, but then just ignored his calls and went ahead with it on her own. She told me she wanted to be added to ours. Instead, she just kicked us off and made herself the sole POA. I have a few questions. First, I’m not even sure my MIL was mentally capable of making the decision to make a change. I would say her dementia is on the low-moderate range. She has declined several points recently on whatever scale they use to test it, according to her Social Worker. How would we know if she was mentally capable of making this decision, in a legal sense? Would we have to hire a lawyer and contest it in order to prove she is not, or is there someting that might already exist that would state it? The reason my SIL did this, is because my MIL wants to get out of the Nursing Home where she is currently residing and live in an apartment. It is obvious to us that she is not capable of it, even with whatever help she would get from the Medicaid home care waiver program in our state. My SIL has Multiple Sclerosis, and is very disabled herself. She spent all of last year in hospitals and nursing homes. Now, because of that, she lost the housing voucher she received from the state. She can no longer afford to pay her apartment rent, so we believe that she wants to move her mother out of the nursing home to live with her, so she has access to her Social Security check (which goes to the nursing home currently.) I’d appreciate any information or experiences anyone could share about this subject that might be helpful.

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MIL is in a NH, right? And SIL is now POA of record?

So, you are no longer responsible for MIL. SIL is. Make sure she understands that SHE is responsible for taking care of her mom, when her mom becomes belligerent.

If MIL goes downhill and can no longer be cared for by SIL, MIL's care reverts to the State.  Not to you.

Just make sure that everyone, including SW at her current facility and  MIL is aware of these facts.
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I'd probably consult with an Elder Law attorney and seek advice or assistance in him notifying this attorney that mother has dementia. Attorneys have an obligation to confirm the person appointing a POA, especially, changing to a new one, is competent. Something sounds off to me. Also, these documents may require notaries, witnesses, etc. Also, if you suspect assets are at risk, I'd ask about filing for Guardianship. That way the court decides and it overrides POA.
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Has your husband spoken with his mother in person?
Does she remember doing this?
Did MIL dr say that MIL was not competent to make these decisions on her own in the past?
Has SIL given NH notice?
You may need to file for emergency temporary guardianship to stop this move if that is possible. Ask the new attorney.
Your SIL is no doubt in bad shape financially and mentally but this is not a good solution for either of them. Seems rather desperate and can’t last for very long due to both their conditions.
Who would be helping SIL do this? Where has she been living? Someone is being very shortsighted.
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I am so sorry for this uproar and potential danger for your MIL and your SIL. You wrote: "the Attorney who drew up the document signed as witness and notary." Is that even legal? Definitely contact a lawyer. I can't help but wonder if a quick call to the state bar to find out if the lawyer acting as witness and notary is legal and ethical!  Best wishes to you all.
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Can you call that lawyer and inform him that it is documented that MIL has dementia? That may start the ball rolling..
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There is no way a person in memory care could be considered competent to sign a POA. At least I don't think so.
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I would bypass the Area Agency on Aging and contact the Social Worker at the N H and APS. You alert them to the fact that this would be an unsafe discharge, that husband no longer has POA and will not be responsible for Mil's safety; you tell APS that MIL will likely end up homeless and is a vulnerable adult about to be rendered such.

You also send motorized notification via mail to SIL, MIL and NH stating that you are not accepting the POA reverting to you if discharge takes place. Send it return receipt.
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Sounds really fishy....you have reason to be concerned.

Do consult an attorney ( not the one SIL used!) and see what your options are. If MIL cannot pass the "dementia test" the new POA won't stand. She has to be determined to be of sound mind---and if she's not, SIL is in big trouble. The ATTORNEY cannot make that call, and he knows it.

Good Luck getting this dealt with. Families...what can you say? There seems to always be one bad apple somewhere!
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Even if the Attorney was also a Notary, another Notary would have been needed to witness the Attorney's signature.... thus it would make sense for that Notary to also witness Mom-in-law's signature.  Anyway, that is how it is done in my State.
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97, my husband hasn’t spoken to his mother in person. We live a couple of hours away, so he speaks to her on the phone almost every day, and visits a couple times a month. She’s been mentioning something about the POA and my husband’s sister, but he didn’t understand what she was trying to say about it. He thought she just wanted him to speak to his sister about it. I’m sure that his sister promised their mom she’d get her out of the nursing home if she signed POA over to her. Their mom has been obsessing over getting out of the nursing home for a long time, because his sister has been promising her she would get her out. His sister almost died last year from complications due to the flu in combination with her MS. She is in no condition to care for their mom, even with help.

I don’t know if her doctor has made any official statement about whether or not she can make her own decisions. I do not know what the legal standard is, but my personal opinion is that she does not know what is in her best interest. She certainly wouldn’t be able to handle any of her own financial decision making or manage the day to day business of conducting it.

I don’t now yet if his sister has notified the nursing home of the change in POA. I’m trying to understand some of our options before we approach them.

I agree with you that this is a very shortsighted and even dangerous decision on my sister-in-law’s part. My mother-in-law suffers from lifelong mental illness, and my sister-in-law has always been her enabler. She is very enmeshed with my mother-in-law’s feelings, and can’t separate her desire to leave the nursing home from what is best for her. I fear that if she leaves this nursing home, which is the best one in the area, that she’ll quickly decline. She is incontinent and wets the bed every night. She has started hitting and cursing, and being sexually inappropriate. She broke her hip a few years ago (which is how she ended up in the nursing home) and can barely walk, even with a walker. My sister-in-law is mostly BEDBOUND.

The whole situation is incredibly sad. My sister-in-law has been emotionally manipulated by my mother-in-law her whole life, to the extreme that she broke up with the guy she probably would have married 15 years ago, because my mother-in-law said she was abanandoning her. Now she hears her mother crying that she wants out of the nursing home, and she thinks we are uncaring for having her in there.

There’s a side of me that thinks we should just let nature take its course, and hope that it might mean a quicker end to his mother’s lifelong suffering, but the fear is that she will end up suffering more and we will have fewer care options because this nursing home has already told us they won’t take her back if she leaves.

It’s incredibly sad for my husband, and torture to watch both his mother and sister suffer, with some part of that being because of their own choices.
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