A: Yes. The personal representative is entitled to make all decisions relating to the estate on his or her own, without consulting the heirs. However, the PR is under a fiduciary duty to take care of the estate and make prudent decisions about it. If you feel that the PR has acted in a way that violates this duty and you want to challenge his decision, you should speak with a local attorney who handles estate proceedings/litigation.
A: Did your mother’s will either instruct or authorize her Executor to transfer your son’s inheritance to a custodian? If so, this is a transfer under NCGS 33A-5. For these UTMA accounts, the default is that the money must be transferred to the minor when he reaches 21. However, if the will expressly stated another age (either 18, 19, or 20), you will need to transfer the funds to his name when he reaches that age instead.
If your mother’s will did not mention a custodianship at all, then this was a transfer under NCGS 33A-6. This statute allows the Executor to transfer a gift to a custodian even without an express provision authorizing that in the will. If this applies, you need to transfer the funds into your son’s name when he reaches 18.
A: Making a Power of Attorney gives an Agent the ability to take certain actions, in addition to the Principal (a power of attorney does not affect an individual's ability to make his or her own decisions). However, it sounds like your mother in law may not be capable of making her own decisions anymore because of her dementia. If her dementia is so severe that she is now incompetent and is not making good decisions for herself, someone may need to obtain a guardianship over her. I would recommend that your family tries every other avenue before pursuing a guardianship, if possible. A guardianship is expensive, time-consuming, and embarrassing/disempowering for the ward. If you can work with your mother-in-law to help her come to better decisions in an informal way, that would be preferable for everyone than going through the hassle of getting a guardianship over her.