Q: My 70-year-old service disabled veteran father loaned money to a much younger person who he thought was a friend. That person has a failing business and asked my father for multiple loans, over a year or two, often promising to pay it back the following week. He has never paid back one penny. The loans total $23,000. At the time of the loans my father was heavily medicated for multiple health issues and was not thinking very clearly. The person that requested the loans does not deny that he borrowed the money and has even signed a handwritten document showing the total, however, he has made no effort to repay any of it. He owns a house, land, vehicles etc. that could be used to pay my father back. I’m trying to figure out to proceed. A small-town lawyer told my father that not much could be done. That even if the court ordered him to pay he still might never get it. Any advice you can provide would be much appreciated. I just don’t know where to even begin.
A: Much more information would need to be know if it would be worth suing this person or not. A lawyer would need to know if this person held any property of value in their own name. If they did, it might be worth suing to obtain a judgment. The judgment could then be executed on the property which could be seized and sold off to satisfy the debt. The problem is that many people are not worth suing because they have no property held in their name only or what they do have is mortgaged or already encumbered by a lien. For example, their house is held in husband and wife name, or their vehicles are also held with a spouse on the title. Both house and vehicles could also be encumbered by a mortgage.
Q: What is the penalty for someone who didn’t take care of their elder spouse such as withholding nourishment, and not properly helping like withholding hygiene for the person? This was the main cause that lead to the person’s death.
A: More information would be needed. If this is an extreme case of failure to nourish, which is medically/forensically related to the death, the charge could be homicide. I would review all the details with a lawyer or contact the police.
Q: My aunt bought a house decades ago and paid cash for it… It had been entirely in her name only as she was a widow at the time with younger children. My aunt put her sons name on her house 15 or 20 years-ago when she was married to a man that ended in divorce. She believed in doing so it would protect the house from the husband. Now the son, who has always lived with her, has turned into bi-polar? and a slob and a hoarder and his stuff is encroaching into the entire house, except her bedroom. He also is very verbally abusive to his mother. She has health issues and he refuses to do anything because he says he owns half the house and he pays half of the expenses. Is there any way to get his name off the deed without her buying him out or having him sign anything; especially when she is the one who paid in full for the house originally?
A: Once someone’s name is on the deed, you must get them to sign a new deed to get their name off, unless they die, assuming the property is held as joint tenants with survivorship. She must get him to agree to sign a deed from both to her. or buy him out. If that is not possible a partition action can be filed. These are expensive and time consuming. If he is verbally abusive, you might want to consider advising her to consult with an attorney regarding the filing of a Protection of Abuse Petition. This would in effect, get him out of the home, but would not affect his property rights.
Q: I have known this lady for about 20+ years and has been like A grandmother to me. I’ve lived with her and everything. Her son has never really liked me. Long story short she has helped me sometimes with financial matters like one time my car got towed so she wrote me a check for $350 to help me get it out. Basically, I’ve gotten A little help from her on some occasions and her son I think has called the police and said something about elder abuse. She is older but was the smartest women I’ve ever known. We both held a high spiritual relationship and loved each other dearly. I’ve never taken advantage of her. There were times when things have come up and we would pray about it. We would then agree that her helping me out with money wasn’t the answer. But then again sometimes she would give me a helping hand. Can I really get into trouble? I never felt as if I was doing anything wrong in anyway. She has since passed away and I’m scared! We’re only talking about 2500$ in a couple years.
A: It sounds somewhat harmless the way you describe it, but I would need to know more facts. Was she incompetent? Did she have dementia? With her not being around to be interviewed by police or an adult protective services investigator, it is unlikely anything will come from it, especially given the fact that only $2,500.00 is involved. My opinion would change of course if there was any forgery or theft involved, or some other tangible record that exists.
Q: Unbeknownst to me and my two siblings, my sister and brother-in-law who live in White Oak drove to Florida where my mom lived and moved in with her. Apparently, they drove her to another county and had her sign an “Enhanced Life Estate Deed.” The deed says they bought the house for $10. As it stands now, the equity in the house from November 10, 2011, when she signed the deed, until her death, February 2, 2017, is going to my sister. In 2009, my mom became physically and mentally weaker from “mini stroke episodes” that forced her to become more reliant on my sister. For example, my mom put her house on the market because she couldn’t keep up with the house expenses. The realtor told me whenever he had a good offer, my mom would say ” I have to talk to my daughter” and never took any of the offers. Soon after that, my brother in law and sister took over the mortgage payments and as soon as that happened my sister’s strong arm tactics were to tell me and siblings this was none of our business, and then she took over everything including my mom’s finances. She decided who visited my mom at the nursing home and who got info from the hospital about her condition. They stole the house, while my mother lived in a state nursing home.
A: There are many issues here and more information is needed to properly advise you. You need to consult with an experienced estate lawyer in the state and county where this house is located. Florida, I assume? It may be extremely helpful to support the allegation that your mother was incompetent at the time she signed the deed if you have a medical opinion. You may want to talk to her doctor or doctor’s office to see if they would support you. The main issues would be possible elder abuse, her incapacity to execute a deed and fraud.
Q: I take care of a 90-year-old man. He gifted me his 2 houses. His children are suing me in probate to get the houses back. But now they filed a removal petition on me. My question is my name is on the deed can they have me kicked out of the property. (Versailles, PA)
A: Yes, it is possible that you can be removed from the home if a court order states to so. It is possible that the deed could be vacated or rescinded. You would be notified of the hearing and allowed to participate as a party. The children would have to prove in court that their father deeded this home to you when he was mentally incompetent or that you exercised some sort of extreme influence or coercion over him to get him to sign the deeds. You really should consult with an attorney to see if this is defensible. Criminal charges for elder abuse are a possibility. It may not be an easy case for them to prove in court.
Q: A family member gifted their home to me. We went through the whole process legally…the house was appraised; contracts were signed and a new grant deed for myself was recorded at the county recording office. Since then I have sold this home (was cash owned) and purchased a new home. The family member is now angry at me for a personal reason and is saying she wants the house back…which means the new house I bought. I received a letter from her attorney stating that she should have been on the title to the new home because I sold her home. The attorney is also saying that I am responsible for elder financial abuse because the home that was sold was hers. This sounds ridiculous! I sold the home when it belonged to me. That is my legal right. Grant deed recorded and papers signed over. She was in no part of the selling process for purchase of the new home. The attorney is threatening to file a quiet title, financial elder abuse and duress lawsuit. How is that possible? After my grandmother gifted the home to me and I received the grant deed she gave up all rights to the home I’m assuming. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: There is no easy answer for this without you sitting down with an attorney and going over all the facts and reviewing all the documents. This attorney may be alleging things that he cannot prove. I hope the prior deed to you from grandmother was done by an attorney, as the attorney would have made sure the law was complied with and this was a gift/transfer for no consideration and grandmother was of sound mind as evidenced by her notarized and witnessed signature. So, if all those measures that you stated were done, it sounds like you have protection. Again, gather all your documents and sit down with an attorney, preferably the one who handled the original transfer from grandmother to you.
Q: My father can’t testify at his own elder abuse PFA hearing due to mental incapacity, I have POA, will it be denied? My father has been physically abused and mentally abused by my younger brother. Recently, my brother is financially exploiting him too. My father is mentally incapacitated due to severe depression, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and physical illness and he can’t testify on his own behalf. I want to file for a PFA since I have a durable power of attorney. And since I know about all the abuse and financial exploitation, I am able to testify to get the restraining order. Do you think the restraining order will be denied at the hearing in court?
A: You cannot step into his shoes and testify him because you are his Agent on a POA. however, I think you can still prevail at the Protection From Abuse Hearing if you or someone else can give first hand testimony of the abuse-actually witnessing the abuse. I would suggest that you bring father to court so the judge can see his condition and bring a copy of the POA to show that you are the agent. I would strongly suggest having a lawyer represent him at the hearing.
Q: His children are mistreating him. They have power of attorney. He lives with his daughter and her husband. They will not allow him to have company. After his nurse leaves, no one comes to check on him. He has a decent income. He just wants to live in assisted living, be around other people. They don’t take him out and he doesn’t eat with them. His grandchildren lives there and he hardly ever see them. He has no quality of life. His nurse is only company he has. He is in wheelchair, but it is just cruel the way they treat him.
A: This is a difficult situation. You could try to talk to the family if you haven’t done so. You could contact the local Department of Aging to see if they will do a wellness visit. Perhaps have him express his feelings of wanting to leave to the department of aging people in writing if he is not comfortable doing it in front of his present caretakers. Maybe, but doubtful, the local police department has an officer who deals strictly with domestic situations or with crime against the elderly. If such officer exists, you could see if he will visit your friend and talk with the family then talk to the friend in private. He could also sign a POA in favor of you if he agrees to do so and if you can somehow get it done with a lawyer going into the home. It seems that if this friend of yours really wants to leave, if he expresses his feelings, it can be done. The other option is to file for a guardianship over him which you really need to have legal advice before doing so. If you are not family, the court will favor family unless the family members are suitable.
Q: I took great care of my parents my entire life. My Mother recently passed. I am being kept away from my 87 year old father. He suffers from dementia. My Aunt & Uncle are controlling Dad for their financial gain. They are taking his money and acquiring assets. They took him to make a new will with their attorney. (Baldwin Twp., PA)
A: If you feel they are exerting undue influence on him, or he is incompetent to manage his own affairs, you could see a local attorney about petitioning the court to become his guardian. As a child, you would qualify, with other siblings if there any, to be a guardian. On the financial management side, your dad can do, or allow others to do, pretty much whatever he wants, irrespective of whether and to whom he has provided powers of attorney. This is true even if the results are adverse to his interests or to the interests of his children. You can attempt to involve the police or elder protective services, but it is generally hard for them to take action where the senior cannot lucidly express an objection. The most common course of action is to seek a guardianship with the probate court. The guardianship supercedes your father’s right to manage his own affairs, including others doing so with his permission or using a POA, and the guardian has the right to sue or pursue charges if money has been stolen. Ideally, you want to request that you be the conservator, but if there is significant friction the court may elect to appoint an independent conservator, usually a probate attorney. In general, courts do not take kindly to elder fraud, but non-appointment is a risk to consider.