How to Handle Missing Mother’s Financial Affairs

Dear Mr. Premack: How do I go about being granted power of attorney for my mother who has been missing now for 2 years? She was in fact married but the husband is not in the picture. I am paying on her mortgage and bills but if at any point I can no longer do that, I need to be able to sell her house. – MR

You cannot get power of attorney, since it must be voluntarily granted (and signed) by your mother. She cannot do that, because she is missing. How is it that she has disappeared? Is there suspicion of criminal acts? Was she in a bad spot and lost herself to start over? Under Texas law, you could apply to become her guardian but would have to serve her (but cannot because she is missing) and would have to prove she is incapable of providing for her own needs (but cannot because she is missing). A missing person cannot be declared dead until missing for seven years. Her husband has broader rights: he could petition the court for authority to manager their community property, and thus sell the house. Legally, it looks like you are going to need to gain the cooperation of her husband.

Paul Premack is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and a Five Star Wealth Manager (Texas Monthly Magazine 2009-2013) practicing estate planning and probate law in San Antonio.

Original Publication: San Antonio Express News, October 22, 2010

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Paul Premack has been a Board Member and has served as President of the Texas Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and is a Member of the Washington Chapter of NAELA. He is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation as accredited by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and the ABA. He is licensed to practice law in the States of Texas and Washington and handles Estate Planning and Probate in Texas and Washington, including Bexar County and King County Probate, Wills, Living Trusts, Durable and Medical Powers of Attorney, and Elder Law. Premack writes the legal column for the San Antonio Express News which is syndicated in other Hearst Newspapers around the USA.

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