Can a caregiver with power of attorney decide they don't want to be a caregiver or power of attorney anymore?

Artgirl asked...

My husband's brother has POA over his mother who is now in a nursing home where he lives in Austin, Texas. He just sent us a voice mail saying that he was tired of doing taking care of his mother and he did not want to do it anymore and that my husband and his older brother better figure out what to do with her. First of all, he is the younger brother, is financially able not to have to work and is the only one who can do it. He just does not want to be bothered or have his vacations and his life interrupted now that she is failing even more, plus her money is running out. My husband is disabled and has serious health problems and can not possibly care for his mother, although he is the one that truly loves her and wishes she could be nearer to him. His older brother is recovering from cancer and has gone back to work and he works nights and long hours to pay for medical bills etc. The younger brother who is the POA fought to get the POA and now she is taking too much of his time and he no longer wants to do it. Can he just dump his responsibility of caring for her? What happens if he is the only one who can do it and he won't? I think he had eyes on her money but now it is depleting and he is finding out all the red tape involved in getting medicaid etc. He just told us that he was done. Can he do that? We don't know what to do and my husband does not need this added stress from his younger brother who is thinking only of himself.

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.

You ask whether a person can just decide to stop being a caregiver"”and the unfortunate answer in your situation has made itself clear: Your brother-in-law has opted to do that very thing.

There may be some unspoken factors in his life that have caused him to change his mind. But the bottom line is this: An unwilling caregiver is no caregiver at all, so it will do little good to invoke the "shoulds" or to conjecture about money matters at this point.

The best approach may be to get the opinion of an objective professional about exactly what extra care your mother-in-law requires above and beyond what she is receiving in that Austin nursing facility. There may be a number of people able to make this assessment. A social worker or director of nursing at the facility may be in the best position to do this.

You may also call in a geriatric care manager or ask for a good local referral for a financial advisor or care planner or even a family mediator from the Area Agency on Aging; you can find contact information for all of these by searching's Senior Directory.

Armed with the facts of the true needs at stake"”and how much it may cost to provide them"”ideally, the three brothers would be able to work out a solution among them.