Is there any way that my brother or sister can take away my power of attorney

Jh asked...

This is a legal question -- My brother and sister are upset that I am POA for my mom. I have taken care of her all of her life, and she lives with me, so it was natural that I would become POA -- they live out of state. Can they have POA taken away from me, maybe using a doctor's orders as leverage. (By the way, I am the only one who is honoring my mom's request to stay at home. The others want her in a nursing home.) Thank you -- I hope to hear from you. Blessings, Jan

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.

Your brother and sister are legally entitled to challenge your appointment as agent in your mother's POA. But to do it successfully, they would need to produce some strong evidence that you aren't acting in your mother's best interests"”and that is usually a difficult thing to prove.

Doctor's orders don't have the leverage that most people assume they do in such a situation. Unless a doctor makes a strong case that your care is somehow harming your mother or is negligent, it is unlikely you would be removed as agent. This is particularly true if your mother continues to live with you and no one challenges that arrangement.

That's the legal side of things. But it still leaves you in the uncomfortable position of having two siblings who seem to be united against you. There is a chance you could help smooth their feelings and change their minds by describing your mother's specific care needs and how you are meeting them. It may help to enlist the help of others for this"”your mother's doctors, or neighbors or friends or other care providers who are aware of her condition.

And here's a weird thing: Many siblings get upset about one being named agent because it makes them feel guilty or shut out or ignored. So if there's any way you can grit your teeth and ask them to help participate in the care some way"”paying for a specific treatment or in-home service, or coming out for a week to care for her and give you a little respite"”you might want to try it. That sometimes helps distant siblings see the reality of your situation.

It is also possible that nothing you say or do will change your siblings' feelings. Family mediators are sometimes able to step in and help distraught siblings work out their differences. But if that's not an option, you may just need to keep on doing what you're doing: caring for your mother the best you can, keeping her best interests foremost in mind and heart.