Q: My father is currently in a rehabilitation facility and POA has been granted to an in-law I don’t trust. He has early onset Alzheimer’s Disease and is unable to articulate full sentences. How would I go about transferring the POA to myself so that I can better assist him with his needs? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Your father can only execute a new Power of Attorney if he is competent. Ask his physician or the Social Worker in the rehab facility if in their opinion he is. If he is not competent, you can file in Orphan’s Court to be his Guardian. You will need an attorney. The attorney can advise as to your chances of being appointed by a judge to be Guardian over the present Agent on the POA if he or she should challenge you.
Q: A family member obtained medical, and general power of attorney, through a lawyer, for my grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s when she filled out the forms as well. I’m wondering if we could get revocation forms, signed, notarized with a witness, and then filed with the County Clerk’s Office, without needing the service(s) of a lawyer, and have it be made official and indisputable. Any suggestions? (Coraopolis, PA)
A: As pointed out, one can still be viewed as legally competent, even with dementia. It depends on the severity of the dementia. Most Power of Attorney documents have language which states that the document can be revoked in writing by the Principal. Check the power of attorney document to see if it contains such language. Even if it does not, and grandmother is competent, she can sign a simple letter or document stating that her prior power of attorney is revoked. You should take the revocation document to all entities and persons who are relying on it in providing services to your grandmother. For example, banks, her doctor, etc.
Q: My father has Alzheimer’s Disease. He is belligerent, lost frequently. He has two guns with carry permits. My mother is in denial and I am concerned he will hurt someone. Am I liable because I knew he was not totally competent? He lives in Michigan. I live in PA. (Ross Township, PA)
A: My thought would be generally, you would not be liable. However, my concern would be that if you are aware of his propensities and that can be proven (i.e., you take him to doctors, letters to you by physicians or persons complaining of his behavior, you admitted him to a hospital, etc.) and he hurts someone, that Michigan may have a statute which extends criminal or civil liability on those with such knowledge. I would consult with a Michigan attorney and I would work to get these guns out of the house. Some states have a mechanism whereby the local sheriff upon being notified of mental incompetency, can remove guns. You may want to call the firearms department of the local sheriff or appropriate law enforcement in Michigan to see if they can advise you.
Q: Both my father and stepmother were admitted into the hospital 2/5/2017. His blood/sugar level was at 900, he was diagnosed with vascular dementia and gets more confused every day. His wife has had Parkinson’s for 20 years, which has recently been getting worse. They’re about 80 years old. My stepmother is supposed to make all the decisions regarding my father’s health and finances, but she’s deferring most of those decisions to her son. My family wants my sister to have joint power of attorney with my stepbrother regarding my father’s health and finances and regarding any joint assets belonging to my dad and stepmother. My stepbrother says that’s fine with him, but has yet to do it. Instead he’s closed my father’s checking and savings accounts, is putting their house on the market and will not disclose any financial information. We’re afraid she’s planning to divorce our father and leave him broke in a substandard nursing home. My sister and I don’t live in the same city as our father. They live in Pittsburgh. My sister lives in Erie, I live in California and the stepbrother lives just north of Pittsburgh. What rights do we have in this situation to protect our father? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: That is a tough situation. You need to do some investigating quickly. You can call Adult Protective Services to assess him. Your sister may benefit greatly from consulting with an elder law attorney in Pittsburgh. It may be advisable to have her appointed Guardian of your father by the Orphan’s Court.
Q: My husband is 85 and has dementia that turned into Alzheimer’s disease. He also is an alcoholic. A year ago he became violent, aggressive, started exhibiting bizarre behavior, forgetting things on a daily basis, and verbally abusing me. He finally had to go into a memory care home. We have been together for 9 years married for 3. No family on either side. Back in 2011 we went to his lawyer and had his will changed, threw out the old trust and created another trust but only in his name. When we married, everything stayed the same with only a few minor changes. Basically, it states when he passes away everything turns over to me. But I think part of it says he can change anything at anytime. Right now, he is telling everybody at the home how he is going to hurt me, etc. How do I protect my home?
A: My first thought is that he probably does not have the capacity to sign a legal document at this point. You may want to inquire from his doctor if he is in fact competent. If the doctor says no, it may give you some peace of mind. In the event that someone did have him sign something, you would have a good basis to challenge it. In any event, I think you could benefit from the advice of an elder law attorney. He or she can advise you how to shelter this home and other assets from a potential Medicaid claim, should your husband ever need to apply for Medicaid. You should also make an effort to locate and secure this trust agreement so it is not lost or destroyed by another person.
Q: Mother’s memory has deteriorated to the point where she must reside in an Alzheimer’s care unit. Does she still have the legal capacity to grant a power of attorney or to consent to a formal guardianship? Who determines competency if there is a dispute among siblings?
A: A person must be mentally competent to sign a Power of Attorney or to consent to any document or in any legal proceeding. If she is in an Alzheimer’s unit, one would think her competency is compromised. I think you need to consult with her doctor as to the level of her competency. If she has basic competency, even with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, she may be able to sing a Power of Attorney.
Q: I am a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient. I haven’t been paid for a year due to family of the patient mishandling of her finances. No one wants to care for her anymore now that all her funds are gone. I would like to know how can I protect myself so I don’t get cheated in the end, and someone be compensated for the job am doing. The only asset she has is her house and I would like to know if she can sign a deed or at least put my name on the title so I can have some say and not get kick to the curb after all my hard work
A: Having Alzheimer’s Disease doesn’t necessarily mean she is incompetent to sign a deed. However, if she is not competent she cannot sign a deed over to you. I am mystified as to how you are taking care of her and expecting payment without a written contract from her or her family. It is quite possible that at the end of her life, the family does not pay you. After she passes, if there is an estate opened, you can file a claim against the estate. If there is no estate opened, you can open one and file a claim against the estate or sue the family. In either case, you are swimming upstream without a written contract. You really need to get an agreement signed or you run the risk of not being reimbursed. If the family wants to pay you or wants to give you the house, it can be arranged legally. You should see a lawyer.