Elderly Aunt

Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2021 11:12 am
I have an aunt who is in her 80s and has been having some signs of dementia. She has no husband or children. Her next of kin would be myself, my sister and brother, and one male cousin. My dad (her brother) is still alive, however, he has Alzheimers and is in a nursing home. My mother is still alive and was always in contact with her. My sister was always in contact with her as well.
Apparently a few months ago, my aunt had a bad fall and had to go to the hospital. A neighbor helped her out. My family was never contacted . My mom and sister had been trying to call her. My sister reached out to another neighbor and found out what happened. When my aunt fell, she told the neighbor that helped her to not contact the family. So we never knew she was still in the hospital for 2 months.
Days after we found out, we discovered that my aunt signed some papers that gave power to her neighbor. I guess my cousin and my sister originally had that, but that all got revoked. So, the way I see it, is that my aunt doesn't want to have family involved anymore.
But my sister just keeps pushing the issue. She urged us all to call or send cards to my aunt for her birthday. So, I relented. I wrote a short note saying that I know that she had signed a restraining order against us, but that I always had great family memories, and that I just wanted to wish her a happy birthday. I'm not up to speed on legal terms, and I guess "restraining order" wasn't the correct terminilogy. Supposedly my aunt read that and cried. My cousin had gone to see her and she cried to him. And she also cried to my sister. I asked that maybe she could just explain to my aunt that I just got the terminology confused and didn't mean to upset her. But no. My sister insisted that I should call her. She pestered me for over a week about it.
I tried calling one night, and the call just went into her voicemail. But fortunately, the neighbor messaged me through my aunt's Facebook account. She said that my aunt got my card, and went on to say that there was NOT a restraining order. But she said that my aunt wanted the neighbor to thank her for the card and well wishes. I messaged back and apologized for the misunderstanding and that I just mixed up the terminology. And that was the end of the discussion and I thought the whole matter could be dropped.
But no. My sister still feels like I should call my aunt. I feel like I would be bothering her. I mean, wasn't that the whole point of her signing power to the neighbor? She told the neighbor that she didn't want family to know when she fell. I feel like I should be respecting my aunt's wishes and not bother her. I really don't like to be stuck in the middle between my sister and my aunt & neighbor. And it's not like I did anything wrong, but just get a couple of legal words wrong. It's not like I'm a lawyer.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 414 • Replies: 7
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Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2021 12:29 pm
Your aunt has dementia so that is what worries me.

Does the neighbor really care about your aunt? More than any of you family? Was she coerced to sign these papers? There is potential to have these more recent papers voided if it appears that the neighbor convinced your aunt to sign and your aunt does not have full mental capacity due to her illness.

It seems suspicious if your sister has maintain regular contact with your aunt. If your aunt really has dementia depending on the degree she may have signed without really realizing what she was doing or fully understanding so it may have nothing to do with her not wanting to have her family around her.

I know when my husband's grandmother became very ill - she had cancer and dementia - she had when well given my husband power or attorney, trustee all that stuff. So when she started to get very ill where her mental facilities started to fail her - he regrettably took control knowing some people/church, etc may take advantage of her. He was able to set up in an assisted living facility so she and her husband could get the care they needed while still having independence. He did take control of their money as the place was very expensive and my husband felt they would just start giving their money away.

Dementia can make you do and suspect strange things - they were claiming he was stealing their money because they did not have the open access to it. My husband to help with this would ask them how much cash they would want say per month/week and give that to them (they really did not need much at their facility) and he explained to them how he wanted to ensure they had enough money so they could there (as opposed to running out and having to stay at a government assisted place).

Any way long story short - when you have dementia you can get paranoid and suspect family members that you used to completely trust do the opposite - savvy people can take advantage of dementia and have these people sign things over they never would with their full mental facilities.

To be honest, if your sister is as close to your aunt as it sounds and wants to do what is in the best interest of your aunt - I would have her seek out an attorney and have this other paperwork that a neighbor pushed on her nulled and voided.
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2021 12:51 pm
Fortunately, my cousin is an attorney. I guess he and my sister feel the same way about the neighbor like you do, since we don't know anything about the her. I'm fine if they want to fight this and I'm all for letting them handle it. I just don't understand why my sister has to be so pushy and why I have to call my aunt about a "typo" on her birthday card. Especially since the brief Facebook messenger exchange I had with the neighbor seemed to settle the matter. I just cringe everytime I see a text come in from my sister because I know it's going to be her asking if I talked to my aunt.
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2021 02:18 pm
Tell your sister to back off. You have contacted her. Enough and done.
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Reply Sat 14 Aug, 2021 08:16 am
All this “paperwork” would have taken time and even legal steps- like the power of attorney status given to a non relative.

Also, the idea that allowed relatives to not be notified about her health care is suspicious, too.

You do know that, from what you have described - that the neighbor will probably inherit everything in your aunt’s estate.

If that doesn’t bother you, then stay quiet. If it does, take steps to find out exactly what has been happening between your aunt and this neighbor.
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 09:40 am
I don't think there's anything to inherit. I don't understand any of the legal stuff either. I have no idea what "power of attorney" means. I thought it meant that we weren't allowed to talk to her, but apparently that's not the case according to my sister. My cousin is a lawyer, and my sister has always been close to my aunt... kind of like a sister... so I'm fine with leaving this all to them to worry about. I guess my cousin is suspicious as to why she was sent to this particular hospital to begin with. Apparently her own usual doctor wasn't even aware she had fallen and was sent to this hospital

Anyway, my sister hasn't pestered me about calling my aunt in days, so hopefully I'm off the hook and my aunt has forgotten about it and moved on by now.
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 09:57 am
This is what a power of attorney is: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-a-power-of-attorney-poa-en-1149/
And this is what a restraining order is: https://www.womenslaw.org/laws/general/restraining-orders

The two have nothing to do with each other, and it is understandable why your aunt would be upset if you mentioned there was one.

Might I make a suggestion? There are a lot of terms being slung around and you don't seem to know what they mean. Here is a book Amazon sells (I have no affiliation with the author or seller) for around $10 which looks like it's got decent definitions: https://www.amazon.com/Dictionary-Legal-Terms-Definitions-Explanations/dp/1438005121/

Or go to your local library and ask the librarian for help (that's part of where your property taxes go to). In particular, not understanding what a power of attorney is could be an issue for you in the future. Forewarned is forearmed, yes?
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Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 12:50 pm
In addition to all the excellent advice above, consider that none of you seem to live close to your aunt and the neighbor does. The neighbor is there to help, there to talk to on a daily basis and seems to be willing to do the role. Giving her a power of attorney for healthcare could make perfect sense and her asking her neighbor not to trouble relatives with her medical problems is not unheard of. The neighbor is probably taking care of the the home, visiting her in the hospital, etc. Also, a restraining order is a DRAMATICALLY different thing than a power of attorney. What you implied was very different than what the situation is and from what you have posted here, it sounds like your siblings' reactions are over the top as well.

All that said, is there a reason you don't want to call her? Given that you seem to have had a relationship in the past, I think she would love to hear your voice. Forget your sister. If you could put a few minutes into your schedule every few weeks to say hi, it would probably enrich both of your lives.
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