Q: I am permanent guardian of the person and estate for a 50-year-old adult son with mental illness. However, he can and has acted independently to get jobs and credit cards. It has become almost impossible to track his spending and I question if he is legally incapacitated. At I minimum I cannot handle the guardianship any more. I also receive no compensation for it. He is no longer under the auspices of the mental health system but is in jail with a potential mental health commitment for competency. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If you have been appointed guardian of his person and estate, you can petition the court to appoint a successor guardian. Unfortunately, you will need an attorney to do this. You might be able to find an agency to take over but without knowing more, I am not sure what agency would accept him for services. If an agency would step in, they may be able to handle petitioning the court to have you removed and replaced. The interest of an agency will increase if he is collecting disability or if there is some other source of income for him.
Q: My sister in recently had her children taken from her custody and placed with her mother-in-law for a failed drug test and a somewhat recent drug related charge. My sister’s husband is a heavy drug user and hasn’t even contacted the children since they have been placed with his mother. My sister claims that CYF told her that they will be holding her accountable for his actions even though they are separated and not even living together. Is this legal? (West Mifflin, PA)
A: It helps if the heavy drug user father is out of the home. However, if mother has a positive screen and drug related arrest, it can result in children being removed from her home. More facts would need to be known. I suggest the mother speak with a lawyer who handles custody and cases involving CYF. If she cannot afford a lawyer, I suggest she contact the Allegheny County Bar Foundation Juvenile Court Project to see if she qualifies for a free attorney. In situations like this, mother may have a better chance of reunification and getting custody back if she splits from father altogether and enters and completes a serious drug and alcohol program.
Q: My sister who lives in FL (I’m in PA) got an attorney and become the executor. It seems the lawyer is not working with me and will not talk to me. I think I need to get my own lawyer and if I do, will my portion of the estate have to pay both? I never signed anything. Also, can the executor avoid going into probate as she is not dividing the estate equally. I also know she uses marijuana. Can I ask for a drug test and get her removed as she is not making good decisions? Any help would be great appreciated. Thank you. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If an estate has been opened in FLA and your mother died without a will, you are likely to be an heir under FLA law if there is anything to inherit. If the attorney for the estate is not responding to you, that is not good. I would send him or her a certified letter containing all your questions. If you get no response, you may want to see if the county has a probate court website for you to look for her estate or call the Probate Court and see what you can find out. If your inquiries are not satisfied, you should call a lawyer in that county who handles estates. There is a process involved in petitioning the court to remove an executor. An attorney in FLA can advise you if this is necessary.