Q: My grandfather is currently in a different state (Ohio) and I’m in PA) at a physical rehabilitation facility and they are pressuring him to sign a contract for long term care. He doesn’t want to do this, but his daughter (my mother) does not want him to live at home with her. I am willing to take on care for him and move him in with me, but I want to make sure I do everything legally. He is mentally present with no dementia but does need constant care and handicapped accessible housing. I can provide both. What steps do I need to take? (Robinson Twp., PA)
A: If you want to be his caretaker and your motives are pure, that is commendable. If your grandfather is competent, he can sign himself out of rehab and move out of state with you, if that is what he wants to do. He is free to make his own decisions and live with whom he wishes. If the situation is more complicated, I advise that you contact an attorney where your grandfather lives and set up a meeting with you and your grandfather. The attorney can assess your grandfather’s competency and his willingness to go with you. If needed and appropriate, a Power of Attorney can be executed which would give you authority to manage your grandfather’s affairs if or when, he is unable to do so. If needed you can discharge him from the rehab with the POA. Once in NC, you should consult with a lawyer there to have state specific documents drafted for going forward.
Q: My husband lives in assisted living facility and my sister in law has not paid any of his bills for the home nor had she paid pharmacy bills, etc. What can I do? She will not answer any phone calls from me nor the assisted living facility. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Call the Department of Aging and report Elder Abuse. You may want to see if the police can help. Neither agency may want to be involved as your sister in law is presumably in charge and it may take a court order for them to investigate her use of his funds. Although I would talk to these agencies, it may be necessary to involve a lawyer to file a petition for accounting which will force her to account for her use of his funds. If it turns out she stole money, criminal charges of theft and civil liability may be in her future.
Q: My mother Is in a nursing home and will no longer be able to drive her car. I want to sell her car. Can I do this with just the POA and go to a Notary Public?
A: If it is a legal Power of Attorney, in that it complies with the requirements of state law, and, it authorizes you to sell or transfer her property, you can do it. There are other factors to consider such as Medicaid. If she should need to apply for Medicaid in the next five years, the transfer of any personal or real property without consideration (i.e., gift, under market value) could disqualify her for benefits to the extent of the value of the transfer. If you sell the car, keep records of the transfer and put the money in your mother’s bank account and only use if for her expenses. First and foremost, consult with an attorney, especially if Medicaid may be in the future.
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: She transferred his money into her account. No one knows in what bank. How can he get his money, vehicles, business’s, house’s back from her? (Bridgeville, PA)
A: More facts are needed. If she abused the Power of Attorney by stealing money from the Principal, this would be a violation of the POA and would be a crime. However, and again, more information is needed. You would need an attorney to review the Power of Attorney document and advise accordingly.
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: I have personally seen my grandmother’s will. She had copies in her house. She had a stroke and my aunt moved her out of state to a nursing home in Tampa Florida. She has since passed away, two days after my mother (so no help getting info from her). I believe my Aunt maybe trying to hide the fact my grandmother had a will. I know her grandchildren were left a fair amount of money. My aunt is also POA. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: You will need to hire a lawyer in FLA to investigate and possibly file a court action. Before you do that, you can call and check what the procedure in that county is to see if a will has been filed. They may have a website, or you may be able to get an answer on the telephone. If a will has not been filed and you truly believe there is one, the attorney can begin to request it in writing from your aunt and if unsuccessful, he can petition the court to order her to product it. Having an attorney involved will cost you money.
Q: How does power of attorney work in cases where the parent is no longer there, mentally, has offspring, and has NOT written anything in the will about power of attorney? If one of his children asks to get power of attorney because of his/her parent’s weakened metal state, is it given to that sibling without informing the others first? Suppose that sibling happens to be a con-artist, hoping to take his/her parent for all his money? Lastly, where do you go to get power of attorney in this case? The state? Hire an attorney? (North Strabane Twp., PA)
A: So long as they are competent, a person can sign a Power of Attorney which appoints anyone he or she chooses as Agent. The Agent does not have to be the person’s spouse or child. A person who becomes appointed under a POA, has no duty to tell anyone, including his or her siblings. It is best to have an attorney consult with the person who is designating the power, the principle, assess his or her competency, then if appropriate, prepare the Power of Attorney. Depending on what you mean by the parent “…no longer there, mentally…” could affect whether the parent is competent to sign a POA. You can consult with an attorney or take this parent to one.
Q: My brother has POA over my mom’s assets. Can he change her will and estate into a living trust without her signature or notary? He says he can. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Generally, the Power of Attorney documents must specifically empower the agent to create trusts, or for your brother to do so. You should have the trust instrument reviewed by an attorney. An Agent on a Power of Attorney cannot execute a will for a Principal, nor change it.
Q: My father’s personal injury attorneys created a Power of Attorney and I was the Agent. I served in that capacity for about 2.5 years. The estate is being settled exclusively by the probate/estate attorney.
A: Possibly. If the Power of Attorney authorizes payment of a fee for Agent services performed, then yes. If not, then no. If the POA authorizes payment of the Agent, you can submit a bill to the Executor.