Can my stepfather keep us from seeing Mom and getting her will?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother fell twice and now has early Alzheimers. The doctors are putting her in a home to be rehabilitated. Her husband is 84 and not in the best of health. He is the meanest man I've every known. We were we not able to go see Mom at home before all this happened. He had run us all off. My mother has six children alive and we are concern about her. She has a will leaving me as her excecutor, but if I can not go to the house to get it, I won't be able to take care of it. My brothers and I only want the pictures of our past my mom has in the event she passes. Dear God I don't want her too, I miss going to see her. The only contact her husband would allow us was talking on the phone. He never let us know she had fallen, we found out own our own. Please let me know if I have any recourse in this matter.

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.

In a weird way, your mother's fall might have offered you an opportunity. Now that she's safely ensconced in a facility while mending, her husband no longer controls who comes to see her and when. So you and your brothers may now be able to reestablish some relationship with her, even if she sometimes may seem addled or forgetful.

If you anticipate problems or a potential run-in with your mother's husband over this, you might contact the facility first to explain your situation. The patient representative, ombudsman, or facility administrator may be able to help with a solution, such as scheduled visits so that you can all avoid the stress of being in the room at the same time.

And one of these people, or potentially a family mediator, may be helpful in finding solutions that would allow you and your siblings to maintain a relationship with your mother if and when she is able to go back home again.

The matter of your mother's will is on a slightly different footing. If your mother is able to comprehend your dilemma, she may also be willing to intercede"”and either direct her husband to turn over the document, mail it to you, or have someone else do the mailing. If none of these options seem viable, find out whether your mother had a lawyer help draft her will"”and consider contacting him or her.

There is a possibility the attorney would not relinquish the will until your mother's death, but at least you could live with the peace of mind that you will have access to the document when needed.