Q: My fiancé’s grandfather is 92 and has some type of dementia. He was living with his daughter who is his caregiver, but they had a fight and he moved with us at his house. The house is not safe for an elderly and he stays home for over 10 hours while we work which is very concerning to me. Are we liable if something happens to him? My fiancé’s aunt just dropped him in our lap without any information about his medication and things he needs or things he can’t have. My fiancé’s grandfather was the one who decided to move in with us. He is not able to make decisions of his own. I need to know what I can do to get him to a safe place and are we responsible for anything that happens to him or is his daughter liable for it? Please help. Thank you.
A: Your fiancés aunt sounds like a real sweet lady. If I understand this, he owns the house and you and his granddaughter are living in it? If you do not want to take care of him, call the Adult Protective Services to assess his ability to live alone. Then you can move out and he is on his own. If you want to help him, you need to have him assessed by a doctor. This will give you an idea of the level of care he needs. You can reach out to and senior citizens care groups or perhaps get a referral from his doctor. He may need in home care, or possibly assisted living. If he has social security and a pension, he should be able to afford this. You should also seek the advice of an elder law attorney. If this man is competent, he should execute a Will and a Power of Attorney. If he is not competent the attorney can advise you about a guardianship. You should also be advised of how Medicaid would impact the situation, if he needed to apply for benefits. It will certainly be the right thing to do and honorable if you decide to help him, but it could be a lot of work.
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: 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.
Q: By way of my parents will I have 1/4 ownership of this home that I reside in. My mother has passed away and my father is in assisted care because of dementia my siblings are trying to sell this house worried about future Medical need for my dad who is 91 years old. I want to purchase this home but they’re not giving me enough time to get my credit in order. How can I prevent this transaction from happening or what can I do at this point? This has been my family home for 60 years I do not want to sell. I want to keep it and keep it in the family for my child and my grandchildren. (Pleasant Hills, PA)
A: I assume you mean your parent’s will and not their “living will”? Your 1/4 ownership does not kick in until your father dies. I will assume your father took full title when your mother passed. If the siblings are acting under a valid POA, and these medical needs are legitimate, they can sell the house. In that case, you need to get moving on finding a lender. If there is no POA in place and your father is incompetent, they would need to file for one of them to be his guardian in order to have legal authority to sell this home. This would give you more time. In any event, get moving and find a lender.
Q: My sister and I have had joint POA since 2013, but not immediate. We have never exercised any POA. I have been taking care of her, although she is in an “independent living” place. I do her finances, her shopping…she should not be alone any more, as her health and mental condition are both deteriorating. She cannot live with me. My sister and her husband are willing to have her move in with them in another state, until a nursing home or hospice is the only option. She does not want to go, but at this point it cannot be her choice anymore. Ten years of my life are gone. (West Mifflin, PA)
A: This is a difficult situation. If your mother is deemed to be incompetent to manage her own affairs, you can file to be appointed her guardian. Until then, she can make her own decisions. You really need to sit down with a lawyer who handles guardian work and share all the facts.
Q: My mother has her boyfriend as her power of attorney. She has become ill but can very much speak on her own behalf and make her own decisions. The boyfriend is not allowing her to have a choice in any decision from what clothes she needs to wear to which credit card to use for a purchase to what she feels like eating for breakfast. He speaks to her as if she is a child and threatens to take things away if she doesn’t do what she’s told. I need to know what steps come first in this case for me to follow. (Pleasant Hills, PA)
A: More information is needed for me to understand the entire picture, but I can give you some general advice. A Power of Attorney can be revoked in writing by the Principal. If your mother is competent, she can sign a written revocation of the POA and have the revocation delivered to any financial institution, hospital or entity in which the POA may be on file or who may have relied on it. It needs to be your mother’s wish to revoke the POA. If she is conflicted because of her relationship with this man, you may want to investigate other measures, such as a guardianship. If that is the case, I suggest that you take her to an attorney and if she resists, consult with one yourself.
Q: My father had a massive stroke two weeks ago and my mother has basically taken over the entire situation. He is not well, and needs someone to assist with his care and recovery, not hinder it. She does not allow him to talk for himself, she has told us all to leave them alone and that she is taking care of him. She recently returned from a two year “vacation” in Arizona, because that was what was best for her. I have two other siblings who feel the same way about the situation and we are wondering where we may stand. From a legal standpoint, do we have any footing to get her removed from the situation? (Greensburg, PA)
A: A complicated situation. If he is competent, you can have him sign a financial and medical Power of Attorney to you or another sibling. However, if he is not competent, or if the POA causes such a conflict with your mother that it creates problems for service providers, you may need to file to be his guardian. My suggestion is to have a comprehensive consultation with an elder law attorney as many more facts are needed to determine precisely how to deal with the situation.
ELDER LAW, POWER OF ATTORNEY, GUARDIAN, SPOSUSES, SEPARATION
Q: Our Dad is deeply involved in a financial scam. He has sent between $6,000 and $15,000 to scammers for “taxes” for the prize he has won. He has had 3 months of Social Security checks diverted to some jagoff we don’t even know. He has finally admitted he was deceived but still talks to them on the phone and still talks of sending them money. Sometimes he seems fine mentally and other times he doesn’t. So far, Dad hasn’t agreed to POA, but we think he is coming around. We don’t know if that will be strong enough. What should we do? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: It is a delicate situation. If he is competent to sign a POA and you can get him to, you may be able to safeguard his bank accounts in such a manner that he cannot withdraw without your (the Agent’s) approval. However, if he will not sign one and/or is beyond control due to dementia, you may need to have a family member appointed as guardian. Being guardian will provide more control of his affairs. However, a guardianship requires court involvement and monitoring. I suggest a consultation with a lawyer who handles guardianships.
Q: There are multiple issues. My mother lives in the District of Columbia and has serious mental health issues, but she chose me as her Personal Representative in her will many years ago. I believe she is in the early to middle stages of dementia and believes I am her enemy, so she may designate someone else besides me to be her Power of Attorney in general and for health care. If she does this, does this action trump me as her Personal Representative in her will? If so, will I need to apply for guardianship and conservatorship if this happens as she continues to mentality deteriorate? Right now, she has some capacity, but has demonstrated that she cannot take of herself. She is a hoarder. She is not able to wash her clothes. She has apathy concerning her hygiene and living in a clean and sanitary environment, and she will not allow anyone into her house to assist her. At some point, I know that I will need an attorney, but I am not sure when to do this and how to help her. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: An executor of a will handles the affairs and assets of a person after that person has died. The executor has no such power prior to the death. An agent on a power of attorney has power to act on behalf of a principal while the principal is alive but has no such power after the death. The agent on a power of attorney must act in the best interest of principal and in accordance with the powers specified in power of attorney document. My advice would be to meet with an elder law attorney and have your mother assessed for competency. You can also ask her physician to give you such opinion. If deemed competent, she can execute a power of attorney in which an agent is designated to act on her behalf. If not deemed to be competent, she cannot execute a power of attorney. If there is no power of attorney in place and she continues to deteriorate, you or another family member may have to petition the court to become her guardian. This will require the assistance of an attorney.
Q: My mother had a stroke and is unable to care for herself. My father passed away 4 years ago. I’m their only child. How can I get power of attorney? Am I able to take over the house they lived in? Neither one had a will or living will. There is more I want to ask and know but I either talk on the phone or in person. (Turtle Creek, PA)
A: You need to find a local attorney who handles wills, POA’s and estates. Find someone who will give you a free or low-cost consultation. Your mother can only sign a POA or other documents, if she is competent. If she is not, you may need to have an attorney petition the court to be her guardian. If mother is competent, an attorney can prepare a POA, Will and Living Will at a reasonable cost.