What can my sister do legally to challenge my decision as Power of Attorney?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I have a situation where I am in charge of my mother's trust and I am her healthy care proxy. I have Power of Attorney. My older sister lives out of state and my family and I have been responsible for taking care of my mother's needs, emotionally and physically for 18 years since my father passed away. Now she resides in a nursing home. Presently my sister decided she wants to get involved and wants control. My sister and her husband are emotionally inconsistent and control freaks. They hired a lawyer and every 3 weeks or so I get a letter of questions. I am concerned that they have a plan to set me up so they can take control. My mother has been diagnosed as mentally incapable. What do you think they may be planning and how do I protect myself? I would like to live in peace and not worry every day about this situation. At this point, my mother's assets are paying for the nursing home. Can you help me understand what and how they could set me up and gain control or whatever?

Expert Answer

You want to know what your sister can legally do to attack you regarding the power of attorney you have from your mother. My answer is that your sister can do very little, if anything.

To get a power of attorney legally declared to be invalid, it must be proved in court that the power of attorney was obtained by fraud, duress or undue influence. Those are veery hard to prove. Far ore importantly, it seems clear to me from what you've written that there are no fact that could indicate, let alone prove, that you obtained the power of attorney through fraud, duress or undue influence.

Your sister could also assert, and even file a lawsuit claiming, that you abused your authority under the power of attorney and acted in bad faith. Again, your sister would have to prove facts to support this claim. And again here, I think there are no facts that could prove it.

In my opinion, you do not have to respond to the lawyer's letters of questions. It might be wise to answer them, simply to demonstrate that you are doing nothing wrong and have nothing to hide. But if you keep receiving these letters and they become a burden to answer, you could write the lawyer (and your sister) and say you have responded to several of the lawyer's letters and that is more than sufficient and you do not intend to respond to any more of them.

Of course I can't predict what nefarious scheme your sister may be up to. Still, I suggest you cease worrying about that. If your sister acts against you later on, do something then. For now, just keeping doing your job under the power of attorney honestly, and let the anxiety go.