Father's ashes taken from care home

Uglymug Posts: 165
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My parents were placed in a Care Home just over 5 years ago. I've got/had Power of Attorney for both. My father passed away about 2 years ago just leaving my mother now aged 91.

My brother had very little contact with my parents for over 20 years. He rarely visited them at the Care Home whilst my father was alive. Since my father's demise he's apparently repented and turned into a caring son visiting my mother about twice a week. I reasoned that the ashes of the husband of my mother whom she’d been married to for nearly 70 years should be left in the Care Home room with her.

On new years eve I got a phone call from the Care Home, apparently my brother had ransacked my mother’s room. Taking various sentimental items, mostly provided by me, not one of them by him. The Care Home explained it was not in their remit to try and stop him.

As well as my fathers ashes, he’d taken various photo albums, a huge acrylic picture I had given them for their diamond wedding (it was not cheep) and various other sentimental objects. My mother’s mobile phone which she’s had during her 5 year stay also vanished.

I’ve tried being very reasonable with my brother. He says he’s talked to my mother and just following her wishes regarding the ashes which is to build a shrine at his home. (My mother’s mind is in such a confused state that if I suggested flushing the ashes down the toilet she would agree.) I’ve tried to explain that I talked with my parents on many occasions whilst they were both still of sound mind. That they told me what their funeral arrangements were and what I should do with the ashes, I’ve apologized that we did not include him in the conversation, but because of his very rare contact assumed he was not bothered, I’ve apologized to him for this omission. I’ve asked him to return the ashes and I’ve given him my word I’ll consider any of his requests regarding both parents ashes on my mother’s demise. I’ve done my best to be extremely tactful. All to no avail.

My mother’s walls are now bare, I’m prepared to replace some of the missing pictures but concerned he’ll just take them again

He’s now stating that I’m slandering him by suggesting he took my mother’s phone. It’s disappearance being very convenient as it’s stopping him from phoning our mother. He’s threatening me with legal action if I don’t immediately replace it. I’d happily replace it, just a bit concerned that it may mysteriously disappear again.

I’m just wondering where do I stand legally, I strongly believe my father’s ashes should be with my mother and his and my mother's original wishes be followed. I also had plans for the acrylic picture which was going on my dinning room wall and then going to be handed down to my daughter.

How do I get all these items returned and how do I stop my brother from taking them again?

Can I use my Power of Attorney to chose who can visit my mother in her Care Home or do I need to take it further.

I’d be extremely grateful for any suggestion on how I should proceed.


  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,214
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    I would assume that if you got the police involved, even just by getting a crime reference number for theft, you could use that to try to get the care home to not allow your brother access.  

    If you do get another phone for mom isn't there some way to put a tracker on it?  I've heard of parents doing this with their children's phones so that they can keep track of where they are.  It may be though that it's the sim rather phone that's being tracked so all bro would need to do is change the sim and you couldn't be sure he had the phone.  
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • Flugelhorn
    Flugelhorn Posts: 5,407
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    very difficult - have seen people like your mum get a bee in their bonnet about something and getting the next available visitor to take it away only to complain loudly to whoever visited it after that that X "had taken it away". If brother was more reasonable you could try a communication book - he has to understand that what mum said is part of her mental condition and what she wants this morning is not what she will want this evening 

    we had similar - MiL wanted something sorted with an item, insisted we took it away, we did so but left a note in the cash box for brother to see. 
  • sammyjammy
    sammyjammy Posts: 7,291
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    I wouldn't be concerned around your brothers threat of legal action if you don't replace the phone, its laughable!
    "You've been reading SOS when it's just your clock reading 5:05 "
  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,128
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    edited 11 January at 4:01PM
    The legal threat is an empty one. If you do get her another phone I would a) not let him have the number, b) block his numbers on it and c) make sure you can track its location.
  • Uglymug
    Uglymug Posts: 165
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    Many many thanks for all your replies, much appreciated.
    My main objective is to try and get my father's ashes back, they belong with my mother, when she asks where her husband is (as she frequently does) I used to point to the urn and tell her that he's there. I'm now telling her that he's not with us anymore. This is the first time they've been parted in about 70 years.
    I had a very good relationship with my father, my brother didn't - I now feel I've failed him.
    Would contacting a solicitor be of any use or do I just give up?
  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,617
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    You could try a solicitors letter requesting the return of the items he has taken. 
  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,244
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    edited 11 January at 10:15PM
    The health and welfare power-of-attorney could theoretically stop your brother from having contact. 
    However generally speaking, a decision of this magnitude because of the right to a family life would end up in the court of protection to decide whether to end contact or having supervised contact was in your mother’s best interests. Given that he has been visiting regularly and the visits have been fine up until now I think you would have a hard case to argue stopping all contact.

    I also think the care home are shirking their responsibility. Those are your mothers belongings, and if she is as confused as you say, then they shouldn’t be allowing people to come in and just remove them regardless of the relationship. They have probably allowed it to happen because the day to day care staff aren’t going to know who has power-of-attorney and who doesn’t, and they are not going to get want to get in the way of family conflict.
     I would be following this up with the care home manager (or higher up the chain if it’s a big organisation) pointing out that you have the health and welfare power-of-attorney and your brother doesn’t, and potentially also discussing it with CQC.

    As to the ashes on a practical level I don’t know how you would get them back because the police are very likely to consider it a family dispute or tell you, it’s a civil matter and not want to get involved.
    You probably want to solicitors advise on that one.
    An alternative could be to split the ashes and for your brother to keep half  and half to go back to your mum. It’s not ideal but it’s a suggestion.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
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