On August 15, 2012

One of the most common problems families have when a loved one dies is a lack of foresight. We talk often in this blog about the importance of estate planning to avoid family arguments and second guesses about a recently deceased or incapacitated person’s last wishes. But even families who have an estate plan, power of attorney and executor ready to see these wishes carried out can run into problems.

Two children of a Bloomer, Colorado, woman have been accused of stealing from her estate. The brother and sister, both in their early 60s, have been charged with theft by bailee in a business setting as parties to the crime. The troubling part is that the woman’s son had power of attorney and control of his mother’s estate accounts.

After becoming ill the woman moved into a nursing home in February 2010. Long before she died in January 2011, her 61-year-old son was given power of attorney, meaning he had control of her finances. Two debit cards were issued on the woman’s accounts, which show withdrawals as far back as 2008.

A younger son of the woman notified police in January of this year that a considerable amount of money was missing from the accounts. An investigation revealed that his older brother had withdrawn money several times in Colorado and Minnesota, where both of the siblings moved after the investigation began. Although the brother had power of attorney, he was not authorized to withdraw funds from the accounts for personal use. The woman’s daughter may have also made debit withdrawals from the accounts and received gifts paid from the accounts from her brother. Police have issued arrest warrants for both siblings, who are accused of stealing between $60,000 and $80,000.

It’s highly unfortunate that despite the woman’s efforts to make plans for her estate and choose a power of attorney, her son appears to be untrustworthy. In addition to the criminal case against him and his sister, the woman’s younger son may have to file a lawsuit to better protect his mother’s assets. An attorney who focuses on estate administration and probate litigation can make sure those assets are put in more trusting hands.

Source: The Chippewa Herald, “Siblings charged with theft from estate,” Aug. 2, 2012

  • Our firm deals with a wide variety of estate planning and administration issues. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Colorado estate administration page.

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