How do we figure out what type of power of attorney my aunt has over my mother?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 02, 2016
Beccasmith asked...

My aunt has power of attorney (financial) over my mother as far as me and my brother know. 11 years ago she (my aunt)placed our mother in a nursing home and told the family that my mother was being rehabilitated. We later determined that was false! My brother and I want to know how we go about figuring out what type of power of attorney my aunt has, and how we can go about getting mother out of the nursing facility and into our home so we can take care of her!

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.

The thing you seek"”making sure your mother has good, fitting, affordable care"”probably has little to do with what type of power of attorney your aunt may or may not have had 11 years ago.

So your time and energy is probably better spent on the here and now. While your natural good impulse is just to want to get your mother back home with you, you will need to get answers to a lot of questions to understand the best way to proceed.

Here are a few of them:

--What does your mother want and need? Eleven years is a long time to stay in one spot, and many people actually find it hard to leave a place, even though they may have fought the idea of going there first. As long as your mother has the ability to communicate and reason, you owe it to her to really listen to what she wants"”and what she needs. --What specific kinds of care does your mother need now? Is it different than when she was first admitted 11 years ago? Would you and your brother be able to provide that care at home"”or have a plan in place to hire help to get it? There are now many choices for getting help with home care, but good, affordable help is not available in all areas of the country. You can find some helpful articles and guidance on in-home care on this website by searching "Senior Living Directory" and then "In-Home Care." --What do your time and finances allow? When looking into in-home care, you will likely find that help comes with a price. Make sure that the family finances are able to pay for help to fill in the blanks that you an your brother can't fill.

--Is your mother receiving good care where she is now? To find this out honestly, you and your brother may need to spend quite a bit of time observing your mother at the nursing home and being honest with yourselves about limitations your mother may have developed. Your mother's doctor and nursing home personnel may be willing to help with this by discussing openly with you what she requires.

After you and your brother have done the work of collecting this information, your next best step may be to ask for a meeting with the nursing home's ombudsman to discuss your concerns, and to talk over realistic alternatives.

An ombudsman is a neutral person assigned to smooth over concerns that residents and family members may raise about nursing care"”including whether a particular person might receive better or more fitting care somewhere else. Contact information for the ombudsman should be posted at your mother's facility, but if you can't find it, go to for specifics.