If I have power of attorney for mom and my sister had her sign a document without my knowledge, can I intervene?

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If I have power of attorney for mom and my sister had her sign a document without my knowledge, can I intervene?

My sister had been helping mom during her illness. My sister has her own home in the same city. My mom went to hospital and was put into a rehabilitation center. I asked my sister several times to leave the home, she refused. She is somewhat intimidating and has mom convinced no one else can help her. Today she had mom sign a paper saying that she can live in mom’s house as long as she wants. However, mom told us tonight she regrets signing it and now wants to revoke it. As power of attorney can I do anything?

Asked on November 30, 2018 under Estate Planning, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Either you or your mom could revoke the document if you want: while you can't stop your mother from signing anything she wants without your knowledge or permission (having authority from a POA lets you act for or in addition to her, but does not take away her power to act for herself) unless this meets the requirements to be contract or lease. An enforceable contract (including a lease) requires that each side give or promise the other something. So if your sister is paying for the right to live there, or is performing services for your mother in exchange for living there--and the document states this--it is a contract, and a contract, once signed, is enforceable as per its plain terms. So while the contract is in effect (i.e. until its expiration date or during its period or duration), so long as your sister does whatever she agreed to do, the agreement could only be terminated if there is some clause or provision in it allowing termination under certain circumstances (e.g. on 30 days notice)--though if your sister stopped doing what was required, then you could immediately treat it as terminated by her breach.
But that is only IF it is a contract, which means only if your sister is giving your mother something in return for residency. If it is not, it's not a "gratuitous", or freely made, promise, and a freely made promise may  be freely revoked at any time, without notice or warning. So in this case, either your mother or your could tell her that her permission to live there is revoked; typically, you give her 30 days written notice doing this (the law expects you to give her a reasonable chance to move out). If she doesn't move out when required, you would bring a legal action traditionally called an action "for ejectment" (your state may have a different name for it) to remove her--you can think of this as "eviction for non-tenants," or for people who are not paying or doing something for the right to live there.


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