What are my rights as power of attorney?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 16, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have power of attorney over my mom and dad. I recently had to move to Texas in order to make money for my family. My daughter has moved in. My mom's niece is not happy with the fact that I had to move and has been adding information to my mom. She has hired a lawyer and said that I can't contact them at all. I am very sadden and I just want to know what is going on with them. What are my rights on this situation, I still have power of attorney. Should I still move my dad so that he can be taken care of?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com 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.

First of all, keep in mind that the power of attorney you have for your mom and dad probably doesn't take effect until your mom and dad are considered incapable of making their own decisions"”or mentally incompetent. If your mom and dad are still able to make their own decisions, then the power of attorney document likely has not yet taken effect. But depending on what happens, it might be helpful evidence that your mom and dad trusted you and chose you are their decisionmaker"”especially if the document was finalized rather recently.

But power of attorney aside, there may be some actions you might want to take to help clear up the problem that exists for you right now: That you are not able to have contact with or get information about your mom and dad. This is puzzling, since no court or judge in the world is likely to bar a child from contacting his or her parents unless there is some very good reason, such as fear of financial or physical abuse. If there is legal authority banning you from contact, then there would most likely be a legal document in place such as a restraining order against you"”and if there is such an arrangement in place, you should have received notice of it, either in person or by mail.

You might not be getting the straight story from your mom's niece, so may need to find a way to get through to your parents that doesn't involve her. Are there other close friends or relatives living near to your parents who might be willing to help you by helping you talk directly with your mom and dad? You will want to focus on their specific want and needs"”not what the niece thinks is right or important.

If there is no obvious person to help you do an end run around the niece to get to your parents, consider contacting the local Area Agency on Aging for help. You should be able to find the nearest office through the national chapter at www.n4a.org. Explain that you are concerned about your parents' well-being and ask what local resources are available in the area"”including an impartial senior advocate who may be able to interview your parents and help work out a solution.