Can my sister charge me for elder abuse?

Q: I have been my mother’s power of attorney as well as on a joint checking account with her for the past couple of years. She has now had to be placed in a dementia care home and my sister who was not involved with any of her care filed for and got guardianship. I then closed the joint accounts and sent the money to the care home. My sister got copies of bank statements and is now charging me with stealing my mother’s money. My mom and I were ok with me spending what I needed as well as me using money from my private account to help her with bills. Since I was a legal joint owner on that checking account does my sister have a legal standing to accuse me?

A: Based on the limited facts I am hearing, the simple answer is that when you were acting as POA Agent, you had a fiduciary duty to act in your mom’s best interest and document all your expenditures of her money. If you can did act in her best interest and can document all of her expenditures, your sister can allege all she wants, proving it is another matter. In order for her to proceed against you legally, she would need to hire an attorney to file a petition in Orphan’s Court requesting an accounting of all of your spending as agent for your mother on her POA.


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