From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother has Alzheimer’s, and my uncle has been handling her money for several years as her power of attorney. My sister and I are not given any information about how he is handling her money. Recently, he took his family on a long cruise that I know he could never afford on his own money. My sister and I feel he must have used our mother’s money to pay for his vacation. What can we do?
Your mother’s Power of Attorney names your uncle as her “Agent.” As Agent, he has a fiduciary duty to use those powers to care for your mother. In Pennsylvania, the Agent is given broad powers and very little oversight, but an interested person being able to easily get a court order for the Agent to account for every penny counter balances this flexibility.
You could have an attorney experienced in the Orphans’ Court file a Petition to force your uncle to account. If he provides you with information that satisfies you, then you can withdraw the petition. But, if it appears that your uncle has acted wrongfully, the court can force your uncle to put back money and appoint a Guardian of the Estatefor your mother.
If you have any other questions about Powers of Attorney or Accountings, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation with one of our Philadelphia Estate Planning Attorneys.