Can non-POA review parent's accounts to stop sibling's power of attorney abuse?

6 answers | Last updated: Nov 10, 2016
Sdroads asked...

Can non-POA review parent's accounts to stop sibling's power of attorney abuse? A sibling has financial POA for a parent. There is strong evidence that some of the money in the parent's account is being used for that sibling's children. Is there a legal way in which the account can be opened for viewing if the sibling objects to resolve any power of attorney misconduct?

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.

Unfortunately, privacy which is one of the benefits of a Durable Power of Attorney is also a detriment in situations such as you describe.  An agent under a Durable Power of Attorney is under an obligation to act in the best interests of the person for whom he or she is acting.  The agent under the  specific Durable Power of Attorney may also be authorized pursuant to the Durable Power of Attorney to make gifts as you describe.  So the situation may be either quite legitimate or terribly wrong.  If the parent is still of sound mind, you should bring your concerns to his or her attention.  If he or she is no longer of sound mind you should consult a lawyer about filing a petition for the appointment of a guardian or conservator to examine these matters.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

I don't understand why I was taken off as durable power of attorney after my Dad was deemed incompetent.  Prior to my Mom's death, she was also DFPOA.   My Dad was competent at the time to sign the DFPOA.

Of course I was accused of stealing all sorts of money.   This is simply not true.  I was an authorized user on some of their credit cards mostly because if I had to call about an account, I needed to be an authorized user.   At times, I used my parent's credit card to purchase things for the home such as paint (I painted the entire house by myself for my parents and now I am being accused of stealing because I charged paint on their credit card?)

The Clerk of Courts decided that there was some  suspicioius activity, but wasn't sure so he felt he need to be cautous with my Dad's money and deemed it necessary for my Dad to have a Guardian of his Finances.

The Guardian of his Finances is an absolute joke.  I gave him my Dad's separation papers from the Navy in March, 2008.  He still hasn't filled for VA benefits in which my Dad is entitled to since he was in the Navy during wartime.   VA Benefits pay retroactively from the date they were filed.  This jerk threw away about $15,000.00 that my Dad shoule have received from the VA. 

What happened to the DURABLE part of DFPOA?  My sisters continue to tell everyone that I stole money from my parents.  That is simply not true.  I have given them all of their bank statements, credit card statement, etc.  Yet they still have no proof of their accusations....because it never happened.

I suppose this is more of a Question than an Answer, but if anyone is given DFPOA, be very careful...even if you go pick up prescriptions and use your parents credit card or debit card to pay for them.  It looks as if I went to the drug store and bought things for myself (even with the receipts).  My Dad's GOF simply doesn't have any money left in my Dad's account.  He  allowed my sister, Guardian of His Person to place my Dad in an assisted living, when it was recommended that the best place for him was at home with me and his dog.   So now my Dad is paying $4500.00/month for a place he doesn't need, nor does he want to stay.

If you get a DFPOA, make sure it is Durable...I would ask a lawyer how to make sure the same thing doesn't happen in your family.

Barbara kate repa answered...

The question/answer by Anonymous points up something that might be of help to sdroads .

If there is strong evidence that the agent named in the power of attorney has acted other than in the parent's best interests, or has actually misused property or funds, take that evidence to the court that approved the POA--usually the nearest probate court. Many have the discretion to remove the POA, or demand an accounting of how and why the funds were spent.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I was accused of stealing also, because my siblings were jealous I was chosen as POA. But I didn't steal, and actually spent a lot of my money on my parents. After 2 investigations not 1 cent was found to be misused. I am suing my siblings for malice and liable. I will be asking for an amount that they cannot ever afford. show NO mercy to people who lie about your good deeds!

Ktzman answered...

My sibling has DFPOA but I have the medical POA. However my sibling has not been taking good care of the financials--in fact he didn't even know that mom still had a mortgage. My mom asked me for help in re-financing her mortgage, since I live close by, and drive her everywhere. She chose what she wanted, but when brother (six states away) was told about her plans, he hit the roof and stopped it. So now my mom still has a mortgage, and feels she can't do anything financially, since she gave brother the DFPOA. The attorney who drew up those POA forms and had her sign, is no help at all. So now she still has a high-interest rate mortgage. And worse yet, my brother racked up several thousand dollars of attorney bills (which he expects mom to pay, the bill was sent to mom!) apparently talking about mom's affairs, but didn't tell my mom that he was going to talk with the attorney. The attorney has yet to provide any copies of what all was talked about, that is supposedly of value to his client, my mother.

A fellow caregiver answered...

To anonymous (above) : I cannot thank you enough for spending the time to share your story. It is one which is similar to mine. I have a Heath issue which has been seriously affected by the stress of this ordeal. Like you, I've given my mother money...large sums of it, to help pay her bills. I feel so helpless and vulnerable, being accused of stealing! I'm sickened.