Q: Mother had dementia and agreed to my sister being POA. I believe money is missing and was misused during the required Medicaid spend down. I went to original consultation with elder care attorney, but my sister fired him, without my knowledge. The new attorney did Medicaid paperwork but neither attorney nor my sister will share details with me. Based on my knowledge of assets at beginning of illness, mom had about $210k of assets, Medicaid summary shows $168.5k of spending (with $55k spent on groceries in 2 years! and other questionable expenses). Neither the original assets or spending includes 30 months of approximately $45k in social security or stock dividends. Do I have a legal right to bank statements and other financial information to do my own audit? If so, how can I get this info? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: A party of interest, which you would be as an heir, can petition the court for an accounting of all monies spent by an Agent while serving under a POA. The accounting can be for the period while the Principal is alive or after the death of the Principal. If your suspicions have merit, you can petition the court to ask her to produce a full accounting. It will go better if you have an attorney handle this for you.
Q: My husband lives in assisted living facility and my sister in law has not paid any of his bills for the home nor had she paid pharmacy bills, etc. What can I do? She will not answer any phone calls from me nor the assisted living facility. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Call the Department of Aging and report Elder Abuse. You may want to see if the police can help. Neither agency may want to be involved as your sister in law is presumably in charge and it may take a court order for them to investigate her use of his funds. Although I would talk to these agencies, it may be necessary to involve a lawyer to file a petition for accounting which will force her to account for her use of his funds. If it turns out she stole money, criminal charges of theft and civil liability may be in her future.
Q: My mom had a will and trust. My uncle had power of attorney over her and he went on a power trip. I know he had some bank accounts in his and her names on that were considered part of my mom’s estate and is he accountable for the bank accounts. If so, how do I go about getting him to be accountable and showing receipts for his withdrawals of the bank accounts during his time of power of attorney. During that time, he filed a restraining order against me, my mother’s only child. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: You can ask him for an accounting of all bank statements and receipts, but it sounds like that is not going to happen. The correct legal procedure needed to hold an Agent on a Power of Attorney accountable is to file a petition in probate court asking for an accounting of all expenditures and deposits. I would not try this on my own if I were you. You should consult with an attorney.
Q: My dad has Alzheimer’s Disease. My aunt is his Power of Attorney and has been making some questionable financial decisions on his behalf. I saw the Power of Attorney a few years ago, and I don’t remember much detail about it, but I do remember it expires this year. When I asked my aunt about the Power of Attorney and her actions being taken under it, she says she has an attorney and cannot speak to me about it. As my dad’s son, do I have a right to see this Power of Attorney? Can I question my aunt’s actions and hold her responsible for mismanaging my dad’s estate? Can I remove her as Power of Attorney and have her held responsible for her actions while my dad is still alive?
A: Your aunt has no legal obligation whatsoever to show you the power of attorney or give an accounting to you, unless she so chooses. People seem inherently suspicious of Agents under powers of attorneys and most often for no legitimate reason. If you get nowhere with her or her attorney by making an informal request, and, you still are convinced there is questionable activity, you will need to hire a lawyer. If the lawyer’s informal inquiries are denied, he or she can file a petition for accounting and force your aunt to produce an accounting of all her expenditures on behalf of your father. You can then review the accounting with your lawyer. If you still think there are questionable issues, you can start procedural record producing requests and ultimately drag her and her attorney into court on a Petition for Accounting for a no-rules barred legal cage match.