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My father has become deathly ill and has a will in place. My brother is POA & is very sneaky. What should I be aware of?

Virginia Beach, VA |

Weather it be changing the will or tampering with banking accounts ect.?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. It sounds as if you already have a healthy suspicion of your brother's conduct, and that's okay, but you do want to be careful this suspicion does not turn into outright antagonism, as that can dramatically complicate matters (especially if he is not acting inappropriately). In terms of what to watch for, you are on the right track - keep an eye on bank accounts, brokerage accounts, insurances, retirement accounts and real estate holdings.

    The POA should not be retitling any accounts in his name individually, nor she he be titling accounts jointly with your father. Joint accounts pass to the surviving co-owner at death, and there is no reason for him to have his name on the accounts; rather, he should have signature authority only. Generally, a POA can not execute a new will, so that's not an issue, but the POA may be able to influence your father sufficiently that he (your father) agrees to execute a new will - that's could be considered undue influence or coercion, depending on the circumstances. Real estate should never be titled in the POA's name, and likewise, there should be no changes to beneficiary designations on retirement accounts/insurances. If you learn of any such changes, you should contact a local attorney immediately and discuss the matter with him or her.

    NOTE: If you find this response helpful, please click on the “thumbs up” button at the bottom. DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION PRESENTED HERE IS GENERAL IN NATURE AND IS NOT INTENDED, NOR SHOULD IT BE CONSTRUED, AS LEGAL ADVICE. THIS POSTING DOES NOT CREATE ANY ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. FOR SPECIFIC ADVICE ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION, CONSULT A QUALIFIED ATTORNEY.


  2. The answer above is well thought out and reasoned. The POA unless specifically drafted for the purpose will not allow your brother to change the will. If you are already suspicious, there may be a good reason behind that. He will be required to account for the transactions he handled. He is not allowed, because he is a fiduciary, to change accounts into his own name or use any of the assets for his personal purposes. See an attorney in VA to get more detail.

    Contact your local bar association for referral to an attorney who specializes in this. Often, but not always, the attorney will do an initial consultation free of charge. You will then be in a better position to determine what to do next. Best of luck to you!

    If you liked this answer, click on the thumbs up! Thanks. Eliz. C. A. Johnson Post Office Box 8 Danville, California 94526-0008 Legal disclaimer: I do not practice law in any state but California. As such, any responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to a general understanding of law in California and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.


  3. As my colleagues have pointed out for you, the authority granted to a person under a Power of Attorney is often very limited, and does not come without accountability. In this case, if your brother has assumed his role as agent under the POA, he is accountable to your father. He is required to act in the best interests of your father and upon his instruction. Agency under a POA is not a license to begin self-dealing or altering an estate plan to better benefit the agent.

    At the same time, with you already being concerned about your brother's motives, you're likely going to find it difficult to keep a close eye on the specifics of your father's finances. Unless your father is willing to share that information with you, you might not be able to determine exactly what steps your brother is taking. Your best bet is to keep whatever line of communication you have with your brother open, and to document what activities of his you learn about relative to your father. Then, if the time comes in the future to argue over something (accounts, your father's Will, etc.) you'll be in a better position to point to specifics.

    This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted to practice law in the State of Texas only, and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to Texas. This answer is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation, and is for promotional purposes only. You should never rely on this answer alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney-client relationship.