If your sibling has a power of attorney, also known as a POA, authorizing him to act on behalf of your parent, he can ask your parent to amend the original power of attorney or revoke it and sign a new one without telling you or any other sibling. A sibling may also ask your parent to amend or revoke a power of attorney in which you serve as your parent's agent, but you must be notified when this occurs for the amendment or revocation to be legal.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney document is a legal form in which one person, called the principal, grants another person, called the agent or attorney-in-fact, the power to make decisions on his behalf or when he becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. A principal usually grants a power of attorney for financial or health care matters. An elderly parent will frequently choose a son or a daughter to act as his agent.
No Notification Requirement
State laws governing powers of attorney differ from one state to the next as to whether a power of attorney must be filed with a court and, if so, what types must be registered. Traditionally, the principal and agent are not required to notify other family members of changes to the sibling's power of attorney and agents typically serve without supervision.
A common situation in elder care law occurs when a parent agrees to give two siblings power of attorney, usually without informing either or both that he has done so. This situation is commonly referred to as dueling or competing powers of attorney, i.e. when two or more persons hold a power of attorney for the same principal and the powers granted by each conflict with one another.
If you suspect or know that a dueling power of attorney situation exists, or your power of attorney has been amended or revoked under suspicious circumstances such as your sibling taking advantage of your parent's mental deterioration, you have some legal options. You can contact your parent and sibling, in writing, and politely ask that copies of any altered or new power of attorney is sent to you and your other siblings immediately. You can also contact the clerk of the local court where your parent lives to see if any powers of attorney have been registered with that court.
You may have to enter fiduciary litigation, a lawsuit in which you require your sibling to account for what he has done with your parent and your parent's property. You can also ask a court to appoint you as your parent's conservator on the grounds that your parent is not mentally able to manage his affairs.
References & Resources
- National Caregivers Library: What Is Power of Attorney?
- Legal Aid of East Tennessee: Power of Attorney -- Representative Payees -- Conservatorships
- North Carolina Bar Association: Durable Power of Attorney
- ProSeniors: Power of Attorney
- Rack and Olansen: Fiduciary Litigation
- State Bar of Wisconsin: Durable Powers of Attorney for Finances and Other Property
- Connecticut Network for Legal Aid: Frequently Asked Questions About Powers of Attorney
- eNotes -- Encyclopedia of Everyday Law: Estate Planning -- Power of Attorney
- Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups: Revoking a Power of Attorney for Health Care
- Lawyers.com: Powers of Attorney
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