Can one son with power of attorney stop another from taking Mom out to lunch from her care facility?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 25, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Situation: Mother is in an assisted care facility and she has two sons. One son has power of attorney and the other (estranged) son does not. The estranged son is trying to spend time with his mother after not contactng her in about 3 years. Can the power of attorney son prevent his brother from taking their mother to lunch outside of the care facility?

Expert Answers

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.

From most perspectives, this sounds like a hopeful story: The prodigal son returns to reestablish a relationship with his ailing mother before it's too late. But even hopefulness can be misplaced.

From a practical standpoint, the first step here is to determine whether the son's authority as named agent in the power of attorney has kicked in yet. Most such documents specify that they are to take effect only when the principal"”the person for whom the power of attorney was created"”is no longer able to act for himself or herself.

In this scenario, if this is the type of power of attorney that exists"”most of them are written this way"”and the mother, although in assisted care, still maintains her mental faculties, then the power of attorney does not come into play.

If the son is currently empowered by the power of attorney, that might give him more clout in directing his mother's care. But whether or not he is currently the authorized agent, he"”and everyone else"”should be guided by one concern: the best interests of the mother. Most eldercare experts and other humans applaud the possibility of family members mending their rifts. But if the formerly estranged son's lunch outings are upsetting or destructive to the mother's health, they might need to be limited, restructured to be supervised"”or in the most drastic situations, eliminated at least for a while.

It can be helpful in such situations to get an objective assessment about whether the visitation is truly damaging or merely annoying or rankling to other family members. Consider contacting the facility's ombudsperson, who likely sees the mother before and after the visits and is trained in knowing whether they have a negative effect.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

The problem as I see it, we have almost the same situation. The son without the POA wants to get his parent to sign loan documents for him to take out a loan for him, with his father as co-signer. The father can seem very lucid and could convince the bank that he is. They are not going to question him beyond the loan information. It is up to the son with the POA to protect his mom, we do not know all facts involved. answered...

Both of the above answers seem very appropriate. It would seem there is animosity between mother and son or mother would talk to the son and have it changed. Greed is such a terrible thing and certainly divides families.