Q: My mother, who is very ill would like to hire a family member as a live-in caregiver. Her husband does not want them there. Does he have the right to deny her a live-in caregiver? (Carrick, PA)
A: These are complicated situations. If your mother’s husband is a sole owner or owns the house with your mother, he can bar you or a caregiver from entry. If you feel your mother is being neglected or abused, you can call the Department of Aging of Allegheny County and see if they will investigate. If her husband becomes more obstinate, you may want to consider filing in court to be her guardian. I recommend a consultation with an elder law attorney.
Q: My sister filed a petition for conservatorship of my mom last October without discussing it with any family members. She lives in Georgia and I live with my mom in PA. My mom has no access to any of her funds and my sister stopped sending money 6 months ago. My mom has moderate dementia and has good days where she is alert and days where she is sleepy and not as clear. She receives 2k a month from her pension and about 3k from rental property. Because of the conservatorship she has access to none of it. I had planned on taking my mom to the hearing back in December because the court docs said she must be present, but my sister told me that she didn’t have to be there, and I trusted that, so we didn’t attend. Now I’m understanding that would have been the time my mom’s needs and wants could have been heard. I’m not working and live with my mom and have taken care of her for 4 years. For the past 6 months my mom and I have asked for some financial help from my sister who has control of the estate and have been denied or told that she needs to talk it over with the attorney. I don’t think I even have an option to get an attorney for my mom because she can’t access funds to pay. (Washington, PA
A: I will assume, your sister was appointed in PA and just happens to live in GA. The larger picture is that your sister is acting as conservator or guardian of your mother and according to you is not supporting her sufficiently. This requires the conservator appointment to be questioned. I suggest you speak with a local elder law attorney or attorney who handles guardianship law to advise on what your options would be. If it is readily provable that your sister is not acting in your mother’s best interest and not fulfilling her fiduciary duty as guardian, you may have legal grounds to for her to be removed as Guardian you appointed. The fact that she lives in GA raises questions as to how she closely she can care for your mother. I view your payment as caretaker as less of a problem. I would keep an itemized daily account of everything you do and keep expense receipts. The attorney can provide more advice on what records you need to establish for your services. If you keep a detailed invoice, you can submit it to the conservator. If she will not pay, that is another matter.
Q: I have lived with my mother my whole life. I have cared for my mother the last 15 plus years. My brother had power of attorney though and put her in a nursing home 20 months ago. She is getting low on funds and the guardian wants to sell her house. I am not on the deed, but left the house in her will. Can they sell her house if she needs Medicaid? Can they wait until she passes and then sell her house? I was told that she can still own a home and be on Medicaid and sell the house after her death to pay back Medicaid.
A: You may be OK, but I cannot answer this without much more information. It sounds like her liquid funds are depleted and now it is necessary to sell her home to spend down to qualify for Medicaid. Her guardian may in fact have a duty to do this. It would be good to know if she is considered able to return home. Another thing for you to consider is what was referred to as “undue hardship” under DPW (now DHS) rules. This applies if you have lived with your mother in the home as her caretaker for a two-year period prior to her hospitalization. If so, the home may be excluded as a Medicaid asset, at this time, and you could remain residing in the home.
Q: I am caring for an elderly uncle who has paranoid dementia. I have no real social support network of friends or extended family. I am honoring his request and refuse to place him in a nursing home. He wanders and and has shown up at neighbors’ houses while I attempt to shop for groceries or pick up medicines. The police have been called about the situation particularly when he lands up at people’s houses. The police have told me that I could be arrested for neglect if they catch him wandering again? How can this be? I have not committed a crime. I’m doing the best I can on a VERY limited income. If I place him, I will go against his wishes and will become homeless. What can be done about honoring his requests and protecting my home, that treats all with respect. (Moon, PA)
A: Based on the information you provide, it seems like your uncle is at risk of hurting himself. Although it is admirable what you are doing, it may not be enough to keep him safe. He may need professional help such as nursing care or in home services. You have been warned by the police which causes me concern that if your uncle ends up injured or worse, you could be charged with several crimes. This is usually a last resort. Although well intended, you have assumed the role of caretaker. First, you need to get him to a doctor as soon as possible. He may need of medication and a doctor can assess him for competency. Next, you need to talk to an elder law attorney or a social services agency about potential services and you or an agency becoming his court appointed guardian. It may be against his wishes, but he is not thinking clearly given his mental health diagnosis and dementia.
Q: My sister, brother and his wife have POA over our mother. For 12 years, they would not let me see her. Now they expect me to take care of her so they can travel. They listed me as first contact without my consent or signature on her medical, dental etc. Is this legal? My sister put herself last because she plans on traveling 3 weeks out of the month. Now that our mom is 95 and needs more help. Then, I get a phone call from my brother stating that I am the first contact and all her appointments are written down along with her medications. I am going through extensive PT right now and they are all retired and my husband and I are not healthy. If they are going to do this to me can I charge them for what a 24-hour caregiver makes? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Under PA law, you would have to sign the “Acknowledgement” portion of the Power of Attorney document to be legally bound to serve. It is not enough just to name you as an Agent. I think if it becomes a problem, you should ask your siblings for a copy and review it with a lawyer. Also, even if you were an Agent on the POA, under PA law, you can resign being an Agent by providing written notice to all parties involved. As for earning a fee, this needs to be specified in the POA document.
Q: My sister is disabled and living in our mother’s home in Wheeling, WVA. My mother now resides in a senior living facility. My other sister wants to kick my disabled sister out, but she’s on disability and can’t afford housing. She claims that they need to sell the house to pay the $500 monthly facility cost. Please advise. (Pittsburgh, PA).
A: You need to get to a WVA elder lawyer who is versed in Medicaid and SSI law immediately. Every state manages it’s Medicaid program differently. However, my thought is that you might apply for Medicaid now and be able preserve the home if under the WVA Medicaid there is an exception for a disabled child living in the home, or a child living in the home who was serving as a caretaker at the time of the institutionalized parent’s application. Some state’s Medicaid rules have such provisions.
Q: My daughter was taken away and kept from me pretty much her whole life and never knew me. She is now involved in DFS or Child Protective Services in the state of Florida she is currently in Pennsylvania in a shelter waiting for transport to Florida. Her mother doesn’t want her but there is no proof of that. When she gets to Florida she will be placed in a youth facility.
A:The family courts and Children Youth and Families (CYF) are directed to find relatives for children in placement. They call it “family finding”. Since this child is physically in PA, you can try a few things. Call CYF and tell them you want to be a caretaker. They may work with you but there is a possibility that the child is on her way to FLA where it appears there is jurisdiction? An attorney experienced in Juvenile Dependency law can help you immensely. If you cannot afford an attorney, you should call the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, Juvenile Court Project. 412-391-4467. If you qualify for representation, you will have an excellent attorney at no cost. The idea is, if you are serious, get involved now.
Q: My daughter was taken away and kept from me pretty much her whole life and never knew me. She is now involved in DFS or Child Protective Services in the state of Florida she is currently in Pennsylvania in a shelter waiting for transport to Florida. her mother doesn’t want her but there is no proof of that. when she gets to Florida she will be placed in a youth facility.
A:The family courts and Children Youth and Families (CYF) are directed to find relatives for children in placement. They call it “family finding”. Since this child is physically in PA, you can try a few things. Call CYF and tell them you want to be a caretaker and want a paternity test. They may work with you but there is a possibility that the child is on her way to FLA where it appears there is jurisdiction? An attorney experienced in Juvenile Dependency law can help you immensely. If you cannot afford an attorney, you should call the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, Juvenile Court Project. 412=391-4467. If you qualify for representation, you will have an excellent attorney at no cost. The idea is, if you are serious, is to get involved now.
Q: Grandmother has dementia. Been in nursing home for 5 years. Her money is gone due to hospital bills, nursing home and necessities she needs there as well as meds. Can my mom sell her belongings to pay for her continued care and hospital bills? My uncles have threatened to sue her if she does. As well as demanded an account of where her money went as well as demanding to see the will that the lawyer has. Can the sue her for selling her things to pay the hospital? And can they threaten to sue her if she doesn’t get the lawyer to turn over a copy if the will. They are claiming my mom has stolen my grandmother’s money. The apparently thought my grandparents were rich when my grandfather died and they were. They “feel” there should have been hundreds of thousands of dollars when he died. When in reality, there was less than $50,000. Nursing home and hospital/ doctor bills ate that. We provide her diapers and hygiene products gloves and snacks. Can they do this to my mom when they have provided little to no help?
A: If you are doing nothing wrong you shouldn’t have any worries. However, you do need to document these expenditures. Additionally, it would benefit you greatly to seek the advice of your attorney or an attorney versed in Medicaid law. You may need to apply for Medicaid benefits and an attorney can guide you on the process and at the same time prepare you on how to deal with these allegations. With all of these expenditures documented and organized all of your efforts will be accounted for. In the event the brothers find a lawyer who will file for an accounting, you will be able to deal with the issue before it goes to court.
Q: Is there any way to protect yourself from family who is not contributing financially or giving relief to family member who is caregiver? Matriarch suffered a stroke. Youngest child (Caregiver), who lives with her and is providing most care, day and night. He is 54. Sister has deed on house. She is providing him with some financing, but, not much physical relief. Older brother will not pitch in unless his name is on the deed, but feels the right to come over whenever he wants to give orders. Caregiver is responsible for taking care of her at night, and on days when he is not working. But Caregiver must pay an individual to come in and sit with her while he goes to work. He is exhausted and almost at the end of his rope. Can anything be done to force the family to assist in a more responsible manner?
A: No family member is legally obligated to care for another. Some states do have filial responsibility statutes which make certain next of kin financially responsible for other family members who are indigent. PA does. This doesn’t sound like your concern, at least at this point. If the caretaker is financially burdened by his role, he may want to discuss filing with the court to be appointed the Matriarch’s guardian. If so appointed, he could earn a fee for his services and/or hire service providers and caretakers to ease the burden. All of these expenses would be paid from the Matriarch’s funds. Of course, in these situations, the guardian has to keep a running account of all of the money he or she spends as the court now has jurisdiction. Often in these situations, one family member bears the burden more than others. If the situation cannot be worked out fairly in an informal manner, a guardianship may be the answer. In addition, there are other issues you need to be aware of such as Medicaid. You need to consult with an attorney and provide him or her with all of the facts.