Q: My sister filed a petition for conservatorship of my mom last October without discussing it with any family members. She lives in Georgia and I live with my mom in PA. My mom has no access to any of her funds and my sister stopped sending money 6 months ago. My mom has moderate dementia and has good days where she is alert and days where she is sleepy and not as clear. She receives 2k a month from her pension and about 3k from rental property. Because of the conservatorship she has access to none of it. I had planned on taking my mom to the hearing back in December because the court docs said she must be present, but my sister told me that she didn’t have to be there, and I trusted that, so we didn’t attend. Now I’m understanding that would have been the time my mom’s needs and wants could have been heard. I’m not working and live with my mom and have taken care of her for 4 years. For the past 6 months my mom and I have asked for some financial help from my sister who has control of the estate and have been denied or told that she needs to talk it over with the attorney. I don’t think I even have an option to get an attorney for my mom because she can’t access funds to pay. (Washington, PA
A: I will assume, your sister was appointed in PA and just happens to live in GA. The larger picture is that your sister is acting as conservator or guardian of your mother and according to you is not supporting her sufficiently. This requires the conservator appointment to be questioned. I suggest you speak with a local elder law attorney or attorney who handles guardianship law to advise on what your options would be. If it is readily provable that your sister is not acting in your mother’s best interest and not fulfilling her fiduciary duty as guardian, you may have legal grounds to for her to be removed as Guardian you appointed. The fact that she lives in GA raises questions as to how she closely she can care for your mother. I view your payment as caretaker as less of a problem. I would keep an itemized daily account of everything you do and keep expense receipts. The attorney can provide more advice on what records you need to establish for your services. If you keep a detailed invoice, you can submit it to the conservator. If she will not pay, that is another matter.