My stepmother had power of attorney of my father. She passed...

A fellow caregiver asked...

My stepmother had power of attorney of my father. She passed away a couple of days ago. Now her daughter says she has power of attorney. My siblings and I haven't been able to see my father because my stepmother wouldn't let us. We just found out what facility she put him in, but the people there can't talk to us because of my stepmother's daughter. Is there something we can do as biological children so we can move him closer to us and help him?

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.

A person who is empowered as an agent in a power of attorney"”as your stepmother's daughter might or might not be"”is entitled only to act in the best interests of the person for whom the POA is written.

Your first logical step would be to contact your father, to help assess the kind of care he is receiving, to detect what additional help he needs, possibly to find out whether he would be interested in relocating"”and simply to keep up your relationship.

Unless there have been some serious instances of abuse or neglect, it is very unusual for children to be barred from contacting or visiting their parents, since family connections are generally considered to be helpful and healthful things.

But some facility administrators may not be up on legal rights and wrongs"”and many simply don't want to step into the midst of a family argument. For whatever reason, it sounds as if you have your requests to see your father have fallen on deaf ears.

Consider getting in touch with the facility's ombudsman"”an objective sort of advocate for residents"”who should be able to tell you whether there are true medical or legal reasons that might prevent you from seeing him now.

You can find out the name of the ombudsman at a particular facility or get additional direction by contacting The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center at