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Is My Brother Misusing Money Belonging To Our Elderly Grandmother

Brother Takes Care Of Grandmother's Finances

Mary lives in Saint Paul with her grandmother Marjorie, whom she has taken care of for the past four years. Her brother, Richard, offered to take care of Marjorie's finances so the grandmother signed a power of attorney for Richard to take care of her assets and monthly bills. Things went well for several months.

Using The Power Of Attorney

One day Mary learns that Richard has cashed out several of Marjorie's certificates of deposit using the power of attorney. When Mary asks Richard about it, he becomes defensive and angry! He refuses to discuss his management of Marjorie's finances.

Marjorie is physically and mentally disabled and does not remember anything about any discussions with Richard. Unfortunately, she has an advanced case of Alzheimer's disease.

What Can Be Done?

Mary is upset with Richard's actions and wants to know what can be done to ensure Marjorie's assets are protected in order to provide for her daily needs and care.

Financial abuse of senior citizens is an enormous problem in our society. Was Richard stealing Marjorie's assets?

At the same time, many families try to care for elderly parents or grandparents in the best way they can. Perhaps Richard was properly taking care of Marjorie's finances. If so, it may be unfair to accuse Richard of wrongful conduct.

Be Open With A Power Of Attorney

For one thing, it is often helpful if more than one family member is managing the disabled person's finances. We always recommend to our clients that the persons who have the power of attorney share information with the immediate family members unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.

From the facts of the case, it seems doubtful that Marjorie could cooperate, for example, to demand an accounting from Richard or to revoke the power of attorney. As stated, she is dealing with an advanced case of Alzheimer's disease.

Possible Actions To Take Against The Brother

Mary and the family could petition the probate court to appoint a conservator to administer Marjorie's assets. The court could also appoint a guardian for Marjorie to make necessary decisions for her care.

The county also has agents whose responsibility is to investigate cases of senior abuse, including financial exploitation.

Any of these steps can be very difficult for the family to undertake. The temptation is for the family to procrastinate and hope that the problem will go away. It won't. When you suspect a problem in the family, it's important to communicate with other family members without delay. If you need professional assistance, contact an experienced probate attorney promptly.

The contents of this video are for information only and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning. The U.S. Treasury Department requires us to advise you that any written tax advice cannot be used and is not intended to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code. Written advice from our firm relating to any Federal Tax matters may not, without our express written consent, be used in promoting, marketing or recommending any entity, investment plan or arrangement to any taxpayer. 

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