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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10955
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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my 83yr old mother went into a care home a few months ago and

Customer Question

my 83yr old mother went into a care home a few months ago and i have found out that my other siblings have emptied her bungalow and shared her personnal effects between themselves. ( i only found out 'after the event' via letter). None of them have power of Attorney or my mothers permission( she does have failing health and failing mental health). Can they legally do this?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Buachaill replied 4 years ago.

Buachaill :

1. No, your siblings do not have the legal right to divide up your mothers personal effects and belonging amongst themselves. So long as your mother is alive, her belongings and effect are hers. So unless she were to gift things to her children, all things remain hers. Additionally, the executor of her will or the administrator of her estate can sue whoever took her things without her permission and get them back. So in law, for example, if some item of jewellery were taken, upon your mother's death the person can be sued to give it back. Additionally, be aware that it amounts to theft to take a person's property without their consent, so in strict point of law, your siblings have acted in the manner of a thief and should return the property. However, be aware that the police are unlikely to get involved in a family dispute such as this unless your mother made a complaint personally.

JACUSTOMER-552tk97v- :

Ok...i am aware that the police wouldnt want to get invloved. One of the sisters has applied to for power of attorney.... can she legally rent out my mothers bungalow or progress with marketing it for sale before she gets power of attorney??...

Buachaill :

2. Firstly, you mother will have to be examined by a psychologist to determine whether she is of sufficiently sound mind to grant a Power of Attorney. If your mother does in fact have failing mental health there are questions as to whether she has a sound mind in law so that she can grant a Power of Attorney. So ensure this issue is addressed. Secondly, your sister does not have power over your mother's affairs until such times as she gets a Power of Attorney. However, I would suggest that the best solution until your mother grants a Power of Attorney or if your mother cannot lawfully grant a Power of Attorney is that some agreement be reached between the siblings so that your mother's affairs can be dealt with whilst she is in the care home. I would suggest you agree to go ahead and have the bungalow rented out or sold, but agree what shall be done with the sale proceeds or the rent. There is no point in having a house just sitting there accumulating damp unoccupied. So attempt to reach some practical agreement and not merely erect obstacles. In the long run you are better reach some agreement rather than merely have things sitting in limbo.