Ask The Expert: My mother's caregiver is isolating her from the rest of the family--which I believe is a form of elder abuse. What can be done?

posted by: Ben A. Neiburger Elder Law Attorney

You have a very difficult situation which has no good answers.Your brother has been caring for your mother and you suspect is that he may be exerting a type of "undue influence" on your her. This can happen when your mother only has contact with one person and is socially isolated from everyone else. During this isolation, your mother could come to only trust your brother since he is the only one around, providing support and "suggestions" about how much help the other family members are giving her.
There are many situations that my firm encounters where a trusted family member exerts undue influence and gets mom to change the estate plan to disinherit the other children.  You only have legal recourse to be kept in the loop if you are an agent under a power of attorney for your mother or if your mother agrees to let you see what is going on.  If you are not an agent of hers or she does not let you know what is going on, you could file an elder abuse complaint against your brother or file for a guardianship for your mother and ask the court to investigate what your brother has done. Of course, either of these options will anger your brother and create even more issues which will force that direct confrontation with either the authorities or in court. In any event, your brother will know where the complaint came from.  In addition, the legal fees for this type of battle in guardianship court can cost $20,000 to $40,000 or more in legal fees with no guarantee that your mother's estate will be able to pay you back.
I am sorry that I do not have good news for you or a good option, but htis is one of the most difficult type of situations we deal with.

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Posted by:Alyece Russell

6/28/2012 5:32:30 AM

Long story - Mother is Japanese, can't read,...... found new Power of Attorney mother's best friend and I knew something must have happened because my mother would never do such. Sent to (3) handwriting experts - came back NOT my mother's original signature. Now, what do I do......

Posted by:Trish

10/30/2011 7:05:32 AM

My father has Alzheimer’s; he has a new wife (married Dec. 2005). I do believe this is serious form of elderly abuse. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Sept. 2005, but they got married anyway. His wife works for the gov’t…eligible to retire over five years ago. He stays at home by himself every day. Oh, did I mention, he is a diabetic and has other health issues. He is 76 years old. He does nothing all day, no adult/senior program, no activity no nothing…just in the house alone all day until she gets in from work. I don’t know if he is eating properly, every time I call him, he doesn’t even know remember what he ate or even if he ate at all. Is there anything we (his children) can do to protect him from this woman? Can we get a court order to have him placed in an adult day care or have a provider to come out to sit with him for two to four hours a day? I feel he is wasting away he does nothing all day. He is alone in the house all day. My father has money (money that can be used to help provide for him). I/we believe his wife is intentionally doing nothing for him so that he can waste away and she will get everything he leaves. Very concerned daughter

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