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: I got a first-time offense DUI and was accepted into the ARD program. I haven’t paid off my fines and I still need to take one class. I have one month to my court date. If I pay off the rest of my fines and complete the class before I go to court can I possibly not get my ARD revoked? Should I contact my PO tomorrow to see if they have any advice, or is it too late to call them? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Yes, in Allegheny County, all is not lost, especially if you have a month to get it together. You need to be proactive and get everything done. Call your PO immediately and give him your spin on your recent financial difficulties. If you pay and complete your class before the hearing, and the PO still wants to go through with the hearing, you should probably take a lawyer to court. You don’t want to have your ARD revoked because it is a one-time deal and will prevent you from having a record.
Q: My 17-year-old son pulled over 12:46am for having a break light out. Cop said he didn’t have insurance, but I did, it’s my car, His mom I just bought it 10 days prior and just didn’t get around to dropping old and adding new car with our insurance agent. They searched car found small amount weed, a bong, papers and e-cigarette devices. Now, I get 2 fines for district court no brake lights no insurance, but it’s addressed to the defendant with my first name and my son’s last name. The cop wrote it this way on the ticket, so I am fighting the ticket. If they drop these tickets can it go to juvenile court? Since the district dropped I don’t understand why 2 different courts are charging with the same offenses. (Duquesne, PA)
A: Your question is a bit confusing. It really depends on who is charged in each action. If you are charged on the Motor Vehicle traffic summaries, and your son is subsequently charged in juvenile court for the reefer, then that is permissible under the rules. However, if your son is charged with Motor Vehicle summaries, enters a plea of guilty, or is found guilty or not guilty, an adjudication occurs. The police cannot then charge him again for drug offenses arising out of the same set of facts. There are Rules 109 and 110 of the PA Rules of Criminal Procedure that address this. It is basically a double jeopardy situation. I would consult with a lawyer for a precise answer as I am not looking at your charges and am not sure I have all the facts
Q: My dad is elderly and is an ex-alcoholic with a revoked license (habitual offender). He wants to buy a van, so I can drive him to the store and appointments and frankly, take him to and from the bar. Can he buy a van from a private seller and register it and get insurance? I would just have him write me a check and buy in my name, but I don’t want my relatives to act like he is gifting me money. We just want to buy like a $1500 van.
A: If you have a valid driver’s license, current insurance, and the car will be registered to you, I don’t think your father is breaking any law that I am aware of merely by writing the check. If he not only wants to pay for it, but also register the vehicle and obtain insurance in his name, I believe he can. He just cannot drive, obviously.
Q: My father has my sister as his Power of Attorney, due to having issues with the law (DUI) and not being able to take care of his own financial obligations (Bills, Mortgage, and the like). We (my two sisters and I) sat down to figure out the best person for the job, and because of her strong financial stability, it was decided that the eldest daughter should take that responsibility. That was February of 2015. By September of 2015, my sister said she was not going to have anything to do with him, and refused to relinquish power of attorney. My father is now in Foreclosure with the house, bills were several months behind, until I moved back in. I cannot afford to cover the mortgage, otherwise I would have. My father spends well out of his means, and I have no legal basis to stop him. My sister was supposed to pay all the bills, and then have a card sent, so I could make sure that all his other needs were met. I love my family, but my dad is now living in a motel room, because of having nowhere else to go. What can I do? (Ligonier, PA)
A: If your father is competent, acknowledges that he needs help, and is willing to appoint you as his agent on a new power of attorney, he can simply revoke the present power of attorney and sign a new one. As mentioned, even with the power of attorney in place, he can still handle is own finances-write checks, spend money, etc. If he is not competent, unable to care for himself or danger to himself, you may want to consider having yourself appointed as his guardian. To do this you will need to have a lawyer file a petition with the court and a hearing will be held. You need to consult with an elder law attorney in your area.
Q: A family member obtained medical, and general power of attorney, through a lawyer, for my grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s when she filled out the forms as well. I’m wondering if we could get revocation forms, signed, notarized with a witness, and then filed with the County Clerk’s Office, without needing the service(s) of a lawyer, and have it be made official and indisputable. Any suggestions? (Coraopolis, PA)
A: As pointed out, one can still be viewed as legally competent, even with dementia. It depends on the severity of the dementia. Most Power of Attorney documents have language which states that the document can be revoked in writing by the Principal. Check the power of attorney document to see if it contains such language. Even if it does not, and grandmother is competent, she can sign a simple letter or document stating that her prior power of attorney is revoked. You should take the revocation document to all entities and persons who are relying on it in providing services to your grandmother. For example, banks, her doctor, etc.
Q: My dad wrote a will leaving his entire estate to me and my brothers several years ago. Since then he remarried. I’m not sure if he wrote another will or not. I’m just curious if the will he gave us is valid since it isn’t notarized and what happens if he wrote another will leaving everything to his wife acting as if that was the only will to exist. Would the latest one be the valid one? Would it come down to an ugly court battle if something ever happened to him?
A: A will does not have to be notarized to be admitted into probate, however, it makes the probate process easier. It is likely that the witnesses to the will, will need to appear in court to attest they witnessed the will, or provide an affidavit to the effect. Normally, the new will is the one in effect as the new will presumably preempts the prior wills. Most wills have language which states that all prior wills are revoked.
Q: I was given ARD probation of one-year for a DUI. This is my tenth month on ARD and have completed all the conditions of my ARD program except for the 30 hours of community service, which I will complete before my ARD term is over. The only other condition I have not completed is the $3,000 in fines and restitution. I am a student and working every day to get a job.
A: You do not want to lose your ARD. Try to get an extension from the ARD probation officer. If you are summoned to the court for an ARD revocation hearing, be prepared. If you cannot afford counsel, bring all records of your bills, and income to prove to the judge that you are trying but are financially limited.
Q: Does a lawyer have to provide me with a copy of my will that was drawn up by myself and the lawyer? Do I have a right to a copy of my will? I asked my lawyer for copy of my will so I could review it. He will review with me in office but refuses to give me copy of my will. Can he refuse to give?
A: Sounds weird. My understanding is that your will is your property, as you paid the attorney to draft it. If he or she is holding it for a good reason, for example if you are mentally unstable and prone to make sudden impulsive decisions that you later regret, he or she may have a good reason. However, like I said, it is your property. If nothing like that is going on here, and he or she won’t give it to you after you request, just go do another will with a new lawyer. The new will revoke the old will.
Q: How can I revoke my power of attorney? What if my agent engages in unauthorized acts after the power of attorney has been revoked or terminated?
A: Normally, POAs are not filed with the court. Also, normally, a POA has language that states in can be revoked in writing by the Principal. Therefore, you should be able to revoke this, by drafting a Revocation of POA. Once you do this you should have the Revocation delivered to every institution which may be relying on it, such as banks and hospitals. If your agent has acted contrary to your interest after having knowledge of the Revocation, he or she, could be subject to criminal charges or a civil suit, especially if he or she has stolen or converted money or assets. You may need a lawyer to assist you.