From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother named me her power of attorney. For years, I used it to pay her bills and care for her. My mother recently died in Philadelphia without a will. My sister thinks I stole some money, but that is not true. She has served me a citation to account for my actions under the power of attorney, what do I do now?
By accepting the position of agent through your mother’s Power of Attorney, you became a fiduciary. As a fiduciary, you owed your mother a duty to look out for her best interest. But that job also comes with the obligation to explain your actions as Agent to certain people.
An interested party can ask for you to account for all the actions you took as the Agent. During her life, this could have been your mother. Now that she passed, your sister—as the heir to half her intestate estate—has the right to ask for a power of attorney accounting from you. Why? Because if it is found that you took any money, half of anything recovered will go to her.
Don’t take this process lightly, as the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court judges will closely examine your accounting. Also, your sister will have the right to object to all your entries. I suggest that you have an experienced Philadelphia probate lawyer help you assemble a thorough accounting, and that you hire a firm with a litigator familiar with Orphans’ Court litigation, as it sounds like your sister will want her day in court.
If you have questions about litigation in Philadelphia County, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.