Thank you all for answers but we never knew our aunt only through letters and phone calls as our father and aunt were separated when their father died. My father lived in england with his grandmother and my aunt lived in America with their mother . it was only to be short term but we lived in england and my aunt never married. So over the years, we visited her and always wrote or contaced her by phone. Now she is deemed to have dementia and our 3rd cousins have informed us that they hold poa and health proxy. my aunts solicitor has nothing in her office stating same and cousins will not give us information on how they received same. They have also given up her apartment and I have been talking to her numerous times on telephone from England at her care residence in america # She is of sound mind and looking forward to getting back to her apartment - I am travelling to America to see her soon. My aunt lived an eccentric life and hoarded everything but so did my father - I think it stems from them been separated when my father was 8 and my aunt 6 years of age. My aunt as I said never married so we are her only next of kin. Can I or do I have any rights as her next of kin to ask health and power of attorney questions and our 3rd cousins are living in America? Can you imagine your home where you lived for 80 years gone and people declaring you mentally incapacitated, because you are eccentric.

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It would be awful to be removed from one's home, and to be declared incompetent because of eccentricity. That is why it is pretty dang difficult for that to happen. Not to say that it is impossible, but there are a lot of safeguards in place to prevent it.

What kind of "care residence" is she in? Assisted Living? Nursing Home? Foster Home? What kind of care does she need? For example, does she need assistance with some activities of daily living, such as bathing, shopping for, preparing, and eating food, walking, toileting herself? Even if she is mentally competent, if she cannot live alone, something has to be done about that.

Persons with dementia can often "showtime" -- get their act together for long enough to fool visitors, callers, and sometimes (at first) even doctors into thinking nothing is wrong. They cannot sustain this over a long period, so if you visit for a few days you will see a clearer picture.

POA is not required to be filed in many states. One's lawyer does not need to know about it (though it certainly makes sense to provide the lawyer with a copy!) But there has to be a written document and it has to have been signed by your aunt. Perhaps your third cousins will be willing to show it to you. Have you had discussions with them yet?

Try to keep an open mind until you visit. I hope your visit is not scheduled to be terribly short, and resolving this may take some time.

I hope that you and the other relatives can work together amiably toward what will be in the best interests of your aunt.

Surely visiting her lawyer should be on your to-do list, but he or she may have limitations on what they can share with you, because of confidentiality concerns. It Aunt it truly up to it, perhaps she can join you in a visit to the lawyer.

When you get here and have a chance to size the situation up, do post again and tell us what you find out!
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Please stay your judgment until you see her. Under US confidentiality laws, her doctors cannot speak to you unless she gives permission. If she has been deemed incompetent by a Judge, a conservatorship or guardianship would have been established, and no further POA authorization or Health Proxy can be signed. If it is simply a POA signed before she was diagnosed, that POA stands unless it is challenged in court. If she is in a nursing home, they would have a copy on file, but again, due to a law called HIPAA, they cannot share it with you.
Patients are very good at seeming perfectly normal for an hour or two, but then the conversation will reveal faulty memory and fractured reasoning. You will have to see for yourself.
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