How is durable power of attorney revoked?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I am my mother's Durable Power of Attorney. I took care of her for two years (the beginning of her Alzheimer's), until her doctor told me that I needed to get her into a home due to her being a danger to herself and my children. I tried to call the nursing facility yesterday and they refused to let me talk to her. I told them that this was her daughter and that I was her Power of Attorney. The administrator told me that I was no longer her POA, that my brother and my aunt had gone in there and "revoked" my POA. They also told them to NEVER allow me to speak to or see her again. I was never informed of anything. How can they revoke my power of attorney without me being notified? And how can the facility keep me from speaking to her just because my brother says? Further more my mother has NO assets. She lost her home and had to move in with me and my family. She totaled her car after the disease started to set in. I took over her bills (she is over $18,000 in debt) There is NOTHING to fight over. And I personally do not care who is power of attorney. I just want what's best for my mother and I want to be able to speak with her and for my children to speak to her. Is anything they did legal??

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

It is difficult to tell exactly what happened with your mother's power of attorney, but it sounds irregular. In most cases, it's the person who makes a power of attorney who has the power to revoke it. Outsiders are generally able to interfere with or change a power of attorney designation only if there is strong evidence that the appointed agent did not act in the principal's best interests or was actually deceptive or abusive. And that's usually a rather drawn out procedure"”involving a court investigation and notice to the agent.

Now that your mother is in a nursing facility, it may be less important who is her agent or whether anyone is truly filling this role. The important thing is that she gets the best care possible. And as you say, you are less concerned with the POA designation"”and more interested in being able to keep in touch with your mother and being informed about her condition.

The law should provide some help with this. Federal laws specifically give family members rights when their loved ones become residents in long-term care facilities. The rights are a bit different, depending on whether the facility is considered a "nursing home" or a "residential care facility."

But the rights are fairly specific. For example, federal gives family members of a nursing home facility residents the rights to: --Visit the resident at any time --Participate in planning the resident's care, and --Be informed of an accident resulting in injury, a significant change in the resident's condition, a need to alter treatment significantly, or a decision to transfer the resident.

And the law provides that residential care facilities must promptly respond to communications by residents' family members and legal representatives.

If you have not done so already, consider speaking directly with the facility administrator and describe your situation now that you're armed with the letter of the law and know your rights. Frustrating as it is, it is sadly not an uncommon one"”and many experienced facility operators will have thought of ways to make the information flow easily.

If you don't get help directly from the facility, consider contacting the ombudsman dedicated to helping solving resident and family problems there. You can find the ombudsman assigned to your mother's facility at through the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center at