Mother had dementia for a little over three years. Dad was POA for mom's finances. A copy of the POA was given to the bank two years ago. The bank knew mom no longer made financial decisions, but allowed mom and daughter to make a large transfer. The bank's branch manager said that mom went into the bank and said she wanted a cashier's check for $XX,XXX.00. But mom has not been able to speak in complete sentences for the last two years, nor did she have the mental capacity to understand what a transfer or cashier's check was. And supposedly last November, mom was able to do all these amazing acts. Doesn't the bank have some sort of banking ethics? The branch manager knew dad handled mom's finances, but didn't bother to inform mom's Financial POA of this large transfer of their account. Is this kind of action acceptable in banking?
It does not appear that Mom has been declared incompetent by a court and does not have a guardian.
A mere power of attorney does not mean that mom cannot transact her business. Married couples use them al the time when one travels and is not available to handle their business affairs at home.
You will need to contact an attorney in your area. I'd use this website to locate an attorney.
If your sister was aware of mom's dementia then she might have a fiduciary duty to protect mom's money.
A lot will depend on how much money is now "missing". If it was $10,000 then it might not be worth the legal fees. But if it was $99,999 that's a different story.
Sometimes just a letter from an attorney threatening suit works to get money returned.
It sounds like sister was the primary culprit.
I agree that the bank manager sounds like he dropped the ball but without notifying him in writing prior to this event it will be a difficult hurdle to "prove" in a court of law that he knew she was not competent and he did not act appropriately within his capacity of his job. (I'm sure all the other employees will agree with him that she was behaving appropriately,. spoke in complete sentences and they had no idea there was a problem.)
Good luck and if it helps, this happens a lot in families.
Fran Brochstein has been a licensed Texas attorney over 24 years & has an active mediation practice. She also accepts a limited number of uncontested family law cases in Harris County at a flat-rate price. If you found this answer "helpful" or "best answer", please select the button to show your appreciation. Please understand that Fran's reply to your question in no way creates an attorney-client relationship. You are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney in your county in person about your specific legal problem.
It sounds like your sister played a trick. I'd need more detail in order to know for sure. A lot of times a letter from a lawyer will scare someone into correcting their behavior. If it doesn't then being served with a lawsuit will make them more likely to cooperate. A judgement will force them to behave.
Ms. Brochstein gives an excellent response. A power of attorney does not remove the principal's capacity to engage in transactions. That can only be done in a guardianship proceeding. Your mother had a right to access to her money in the bank. The bank would have been liable for conversion if it had refused to perform the transaction. One has to ask why your father had not removed his wife from having signature authority on the account. That would have prevented her from gaining access to it.
DISCLAIMER: This is not specific legal advice and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.
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