Can trustee allow her adult children to live in father’s house rent free?

Q: My father’s second wife passed away in March 2016, at which time my sister immediately had her children, ages 20 and 22 move into one of his houses under the stipulation they were to check on my father every day and pay the cable bill. They have done neither. My father pays their bills unknowingly, and my sister, as trustee, won’t give my father a copy of his will and trust so he can see what he signed. With the exception of my brother and I, the rest of the family constantly lie to my father about issues concerning his health, driving, and legal issues. Due to his early stage dementia, this causes more confusion for him. My sister (trustee) has stated a couple of times that she wished our dad would die. Doesn’t that constitute elder abuse? (Glenshaw, PA)

A: With early stages of dementia, your father can still be competent. If so, it is up to him to allow the grandchildren to live in his house and allow your sister to be an influence. If he made her trustee of his trust (if that is what you mean) he must trust her to some extent. However, as Trustee of his trust, she has an obligation and duty imposed to preserve trust property. Allowing her children to live in your father’s house for free does not sound she is acting in a fiduciary capacity. If you feel he is being taken advantage of, have a talk with him. He can always make you and/or your brother Agent under a POA if he is still competent. If he should digress to the point of being incompetent, you and/or your brother can file to be his guardian in court. If the sister also wants to be his Guardian, you may have a contested guardian hearing. In addition, if you believe she is mismanaging the trust, your lawyer can file for an accounting of that trust with the court. You will need the advice of a lawyer to handle these procedures.

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