Can I take legal action against my late mother's POA?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 18, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother, 83 yrs old, had several heart attacks last year and a stroke which left her disabled. She lived in Houston, in her own home and had 2 adult children living close by. I live in Louisiana, in which she was coming to live with me, but had the attack a few days before the move. My sister, had the power of attorney and she took my mother and hid her out from care center to care center so we couldn't find her. When my mother died, she didn't even contact anyone, not even her grandchildren or her best friend. She died without all her family, except my sister. I found out she died by googling her name. She had past 2-1/2 months prior to the time I found out. I contacted the rest of the family and told them. Everyone is so upset for not being there when she died. Is there any legal action we can take for what she has done to the family? This was a cruel and inconsiderate thing she has done to everyone. She won't return our calls or emails. We also think she has taken all Mom's assets and has hidden them. We don't know what to do. Please help.

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

If you believe that your sister's actions may have actually harmed your mother, you should report this matter to local law enforcement authorities. However, if your sister merely kept your mother out of communication with you and other family members, there is little effective recourse.

In regard to your mother's assets, a probate should have been commenced for her estate which is the proper venue to investigate the situation of her finances and her assets. You should receive notice of the commencement of the probate of her estate. If your sister does not begin a probate of your mother's estate, you can do so and use this as an opportunity to find out with more specificity what happened to your mother's assets.