Q: My 89-year-old mother has been diagnosed with severe delusions and after a psychological and medical evaluation, a letter was written stating that she is suffering from delusions and is not capable of handling her financial affairs. With an attorney in my presence, my mother stated that she would never let anyone take over her financial affairs and stated that she would not live. My mother believes she is a CEO of a company, married to someone that does not exist. Her only source of income is social security around $960 per month and most of it is used to set up business phones. Banks accounts were set up as business accounts even though the name she sets it up is different than her ID. There is other devastating and crazy actions that consumes all her SSI. Her current doctor will write another letter regarding her delusions and she is currently taking medication for delusions. Is it possible for me and my sister to get a Power of Attorney without our mother having knowledge of it because it would harm her and could make her have a stroke or serious medical issue? We heard from other families with the same situation that they have done it. Is so who can do it and what is the average cost and time frame? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: No, you cannot get a Power of Attorney over someone without their knowledge. The person must be competent, understand what they are doing and sign the document. Your mother sounds like she may not be competent to sign such a document. If that is the case, your only option would be to file in court to be her guardian. Your mother certainly would have to know about this proceeding as she would be summoned to court unless excused for health reasons. You should consult with a CA lawyer in person.
Q: My aunt is in the hospital and she has no children, no husband. She has sister in another state that cannot come see about her due to her own medical issues. My aunt has nieces and nephews that are in the same city with her, we can’t make decisions because she has siblings. (Turtle Creek, PA)
A: It appears she needs someone to assist her. If she has no one else, and you want to help her and act in her best interests, you have two options. If she is competent, she can appoint you as her Agent under a Power of Attorney. If she is incompetent, she will not be able to sign a Power of Attorney. In that case, you can petition the court to be her Guardian. You will need an attorney to do either, and I highly suggest a consultation with one.
Q: My mother is extremely ill and is refusing to get medical treatment. I’ve threatened to call an ambulance, but she says that she’ll refuse to go to the hospital. Can I get power of attorney over her? If I can’t, can I have her sign something that says that she refused all medical treatment, that way I won’t be charged with anything? (Aspinwall, PA)
A: If she will not voluntarily sign a Power of Attorney over to you or someone else, you cannot compel her to. If she is competent and wishes to sign one, call an attorney and set up a consultation. If she will not, or cannot, sign a power of attorney, you will have no choice but to seek a guardianship over her. It would be wise to consult with a local elder law attorney to determine if filing to be her guardian is advisable.
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: 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 oldest sister has guardianship in her home in Florida over my mom without mom’s knowledge of what she got it for. Mom’s 89 and in good health, she’s begging to come home and NOT HAVE TO LIVE WITH MY SISTER. (Monroeville, PA)
A: Law’s pertaining to guardianship are different for every state. Generally, if there is a court ordered guardian in place, it takes a court order to remove the guardian. To do this, you will need a lawyer to file a petition. Consult with a FLA elder lawyer.
Q: Can we get a restraining order against our brother for bullying my mom for money. She is 85 and has given him over $100,000.00 My brother shows up at her house and won’t leave until he gets money. Mom feels intimidated and says he won’t leave. She says she is being punished if we get on her accounts with her to stop this. Any other ideas how to stop him if we can’t get a restraining order?
A: Mom can do this if she wishes, and you can assist her. She would need to file for a Petition From Abuse Act hearing. If she is mentally incompetent, you will need to seek a guardianship of her so you or another family member can file for her. I think the best thing to do, and I know it is not easy, but is to have a family talk with the brother to let him know what damage he is creating and to lay off, or legal remedies will be pursued. A lawyer could guide you through this stressful and complicated family situation which involves criminal, civil and family laws.
Q: My grandmother lives with me I work a full-time job and no longer help to take care of her. She cannot make rational decisions and physically cannot take care of herself. She does own her own home. I have no POA. She will not let me help her with any of her finances. I take her to the bank and to pay her bills. She needs 24-hour professional care. I need help, how do I send her to a home if I don’t have any say so and cannot access her money. (West Homestead, PA)
A: I am sorry for your situation and understand the stress it can cause. You need professional help. I would contact her doctor to have her examined and assessed. Not only for her well being but for Also, see a lawyer about a guardianship-either plenary or of the person. If a guardianship is granted, the money to pay expenses comes from her estate and you won’t have to pay.
Q: I have a friend who has been abandoned in a nursing home. What steps can I take to make medical decisions on her behalf? My friend suffered a heart attack and was to never wake up. She was put in a home. She has since waken up and can speak she knows peoples places emotions. Her son is in jail and her daughter is on drugs really bad no one has seen her since Christmas last year. But she has been collecting checks on her mother’s behalf. The staff can’t even let us comb her hair and they can’t get her into speech and physical therapy without her daughters consent. She is making so much progress and she could even make more with the right care. The staff says she is not ready to speak on her own care yet. I don’t want money or anything like that I want to be able to make medical decisions for her. Any help would be greatly appreciated. She is a part of my family.
A: If she is not competent to sign a Power of Attorney to you, you probably should consult with an attorney about filing a guardianship for her. The guardianship fees, expenses and attorneys fees can come out of her income and assets, and you should not have to pay.
Q: My aunt has power of attorney for my grandmother. She is currently in a nursing home that she doesn’t want to be in. My other aunt said that she is willing to have her live at her home being as though none of my other aunts want her at their home. My aunt who is POA said no because my who wants my grandmother is Muslim and she doesn’t think its right. Is there anything my aunt can do to get her mother to live with her?
A: Outside of denouncing her Muslim faith to satisfy the other aunt, the option would be to hire an attorney and file to have either you or the Muslim aunt as guardian. If the non-Muslim aunt is not acting in the best interests of grandmother and it is medically possible for grandmother to live outside a nursing setting, then you may have a case. This option should be reviewed carefully with an attorney first.