Huge family mess/aunt in nursing home (long)
My widowed aunt (my uncle's wife) went into the hospital in late December '10 and was moved to a nursing home in early January '11. We did not know this before, but apparently she had granted Power of Attorney (POA) to her out of state niece (on her side of the family) back in 2009.
She had been showing signs of confusion off and on, but had managed to cook, pay her bills and walk a mile round trip each day to pick up her mail. Lots of friends and family kept her socially active. And we all kept an eye on her to make sure she was okay. I did notice that she seemed to be getting more confused and an incident in January made it pretty clear that she needed some additional supervision.
But suddenly this niece puts her in a nursing home 40 minutes away from everyone she knows and loves. She cleaned out the apartment and took everything (I don't care about the belongings) including my aunt's lockbox with all of her critical papers in it. My aunt had nothing. She is on Title 19. The niece visits rarely, doesn't return my aunt's phone calls and refuses to move her to a beautiful nursing facility just 10 minutes from where she lived her entire life. If my aunt lived there her relatives could easily visit her, take her to lunch etc. Over the past few months my aunt has become increasingly upset over the situation. The niece told her "I am the boss of you" and "You are here for life". Friends and relatives who called the niece were told that she was in charge and they were not to question her decisions. We were not privy to any information about my aunt's medical diagnosis, her social worker reports, or anything else. Meanwhile my aunt started suggesting that the niece was ripping her off. My aunt seemed depressed and angry.
Finally when my cousin came home from visiting my aunt she couldn't stand seeing her so unhappy. After being rebuffed again by the niece my cousin contacted me and I agreed to help her. We took my aunt to her attorney. Once he determined that she was doing this of her own free will he revoked the niece's POA and my aunt gave the POA to both me and my cousin. The attorney sent the niece the POA revocation along with a letter listing the things my aunt wanted returned.
We knew the niece would not be happy, but wow, we had no idea where this would all go. The niece flipped out and has called my aunt several times screaming at her. She calls the nursing home crying. She called my cousin and refuses to return any of my aunt's belongings including her lock-box with her papers, her wedding ring and my uncle's watch. Hmmm....
So with very little information and our POA clutched in our hands we started asking questions. We found out the following:
--Savings account emptied as of March($3000)
--Full monthly payments have not been made to the nursing home ($1135 missing)
--Full deposits have not been made to my aunt's personal spending account at the nursing home so she has no money to buy stamps or get her hair done.
--$205 per month was supposed to be sent to AARP supplemental insurance and the remainder to the nursing home. That policy was canceled for nonpayment in Feb'11 so that's 6 months of premiums that she pocketed.
--And today we found out my biggest fear had come true--the niece cashed in my aunt's life insurance policy, which was only enough to bury her.
My question for all of you is, what should we do now? Do we call the State and report Title 19 fraud? Do we call the police? We are lost in all of this and never expected anything more than an argument from the niece. But never thought we'd uncover illegal activity! Any input is appreciated.