Mom is being cared for by her attorney in fact (the person who is appointed through the power of attorney document). The attorney in fact tries to do his best in caring for Mom, but there is a problem. . .a sibling who doesn’t want the attorney in fact to be there to help Mom.
Let’s suppose that our Aunt Gertrude was being helped by her niece Milly, as in our earlier discussions. Aunt Gertrude appointed Milly because she trusted her to make the best decisions for her that she could. Let’s suppose further that Milly has always acted in Aunt Gertrude’s best interests. But now Aunt Gertrude is not doing so well physically, and Milly needs to be at her home more frequently. If something prevents Milly from being there, say another family member who actually threatens Milly, what should Milly do?
If Milly stands up to the bully, she can likely have the bully removed from the situation.
But what if Milly is bullied herself? What if she decides, ‘it isn’t worth the fight’ to take some action to try and help Aunt Gertrude. Then what happens?
There are a few things that could happen:
- – Aunt Gertrude could speak up for herself. If, however, the bully is there, she may be afraid to do so.
- – The bully could simply run roughshod over Milly and Aunt Gertrude, taking advantage of the situation for her own use.
- – Another family member who sees Aunt Gertrude being bullied by Milly could try to help out.
- – Or – the family member could tell Milly that if she doesn’t stand up for Aunt Gertrude, she will file an action to have Milly removed from the power of attorney document. This is a drastic (and not always successful) step, but it is a way of bringing the actions of the bully out into the open.
The power of attorney document is meant to be a shield. When it is not used in that way, it can become as powerless as the person who holds it. Watch your senior citizen friends and relatives closely. Be sure that the POA document they signed is benefiting them.