What are my rights and responsibilities as Durable power of attorney?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have durable power of attorney for my handicapped sister according to the special needs trust and her will. Since my father passed away 3 weeks ago, the organizations responsible for her care (ISSH and Inland Regional) have been very secretive about her care, refusing to tell us anything because she is "her own person". They have lied to us and crossed several lines, some of which we think might be illegal. What are my rights and responsibilities as Durable power of attorney?


Expert Answers

If you have a valid durable power of attorney for your (handicapped) sister, you are her legal agent. As her agent, you have full legal authority to handle her finances. The organizations responsible for your sister's care are legally bound to comply with your wishes and decisions regarding her finances.

I suggest that you demand to speak to an attorney, or attorneys, who represents these organizations. I do not know every state's laws on the consequences for an organization that reuses to honor a valid durable power of attorney. I believe that in many states, an organization that refuses to honor a valid durable power of attorney can be held liable for damages.

I have assumed, so far, that you have a valid durable power of attorney for finances. If you also have a valid durable power of attorney for health care for your sister, you have the right to make medical decisions for her as well. [A "durable power of attorney for health care" can go by other names, depending on the state.]

I do not know what these organizations mean by stating that your sister is "her own person." This statement is meaningless if you hold a valid durable power of attorney for your sister.