Can my sister in law prevent me from visiting my mother?

Q: In September my Mother was moved from an independent living facility to my brother’s house. My brother is now working out of state. In November my sister in law told me that my mother really wanted to see me. I told my sister in law I would visit for a week and she said that was fine. In December in went to visit. My sister in law was very rude to me. I told my mother I might leave after 3 days and she begged me to stay. The next day my sister in law called the police and had me removed. I would talk to my mother after that and she always asked, ‘when are you going to come see me’? Six weeks ago, in April, I told my mother what happened in December and my sister in law yanked the phone from my mother, yelled at me, and hung up. I haven’t talked to my mother since. Can my sister in law do this? (Mt. Lebanon, PA)

A: If you truly believe there is elder abuse, you can call adult protective services and they may do a wellness visit. You really should consult with a local elder law attorney about the merits of you becoming your mother’s guardian. This would involve a court proceeding called a guardianship hearing in which you would petition to become her guardian over any other child in your family. A judge would decide who should be a guardian at the conclusion of the case. Your attorney would have to serve your brother and any other siblings, with a copy of the Petition for Guardianship and notify them that they have a right to come to court and argue their side of the story, prior to the hearing. Your mother would have to be given a copy of the petition and notified as to what was happening. It can be an adversarial hearing unless the family agrees who should be guardian, prior to the court proceeding. Again, you need to consult with a lawyer and review all of the facts.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.