Does POA entitle that person to remove items from mother’s home

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Does POA entitle that person to remove items from mother’s home

My brother and his wife have POA over my mother who has dementia and is in a nursing home. My brother passed away 2 weeks ago. His wife, her mother, and her 1st ex-husband have been taking items such as furniture and other things out of my mother’s home. She says she has the right to because she has POA. Is this legal? Also is she even still part of my family since my brother has passed?

Asked on July 26, 2019 under Estate Planning, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

It is not legal unless they are doing this for her benefit (e.g. moving her items to storage to keep them safe; moving some items to her room at the nursing home so she can use or be comforted by them; etc.). A POA gives you power over another person's possessions *for their benefit*; if you are given power by a POA, you have a "fiduciary duty," or duty imposed by law, to be loyal to that person's interests and not benefit yourself at their expense. 
Unfortunately, the police are not likely to get involved because of the POA; they will view this as a "civil" matter to be resolved by a lawsuit or the courts. You may have to bring a legal action to have the POA revoked and get a court order that they return what they took, and have someone else who will not take advantage of your mother (like yourself) appointed her legal guardian if she is not mentally competent. Consult with an elder law attorney to understand and explore you options.


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