Pinehurst, NC asked in Elder Law, Estate Planning and Probate for North Carolina

Q: My brother is POA over my family's it possible for my brother to change finances to suit him better?

My mother recently had a stroke and things have gotten strange between me and my brother...I asked my mother about the will and she said everything is set in stone and the inheritance will be divided between me and him...but for now things are being paid with our family's finances..which is pretty good..I have been left out of knowing anything about my family's finances for almost all of my life..My family has either downplayed things or flat out lied to me about it...I was just wondering if my brother might weasel me out of money that is coming to me one day..I hate to ask this..but I need to know so I can stop worrying about the future so much..thanks in advance.

1 Lawyer Answer
Amanda Bowden Johnson
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  • Jacksonville, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: Whether or not you inherit anything is not your decision nor something you are owed or due or have 'coming to you' or even anything you have a right to at this point. It is your families finances and / or property and as such they are allowed to do with it pretty much anything they want. It is up to the members of your family who the estate belongs to (or to the laws of intestate succession if they die without a will) to decide who gets what and frankly that is as it ought to be. So if you are asking is it possible for your brother to do shady things behind your back to convince or even manipulate your family members to leave more or even everything to him and / or to misuse family money to his or others benefit, then - the answer is yes. However as POA agent, your brother does have a fiduciary duty to the principle (your family) meaning, he is typically only to use the money in the best interest of the principle. He should also be keeping receipts and managing a record of expenditures and make at least an annual accounting - very much like a trustee. You can potentially check on what your brother is doing but you should likely consult with a local attorney on how to best do that. If you poke around in your family's financial business too much or in the wrong way, it is you who could come out as the weasel and weasels typically do not fair well when it come to inheritance.

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