Q: My late father had dementia as all his extensive medical records show. His MD told me on the phone that my father had not been not competent enough to sign any financial documents for the previous 4 years before his death. My father could not write well or speak clearly, and he was mainly in bed. My father’s emails show that an attorney had been contacting him urging him to sign this TOD, yet my father seemed annoyed at these requests. The attorney went to my father’s home and wrote out the entire TOD agreement for my father and had my father scribble ONLY his name to sign the agreement with his financial institution (a stock brokerage/bank) so the agreement was between my father and his brokerage. There was no independent notary observing this interaction as the attorney was also the notary. I am the executor of his estate and his only child/only legal heir and do not believe this is fair treatment of someone who had dementia and should not have been signing financial documents. Is a contract law attorney or “will dispute” attorney most efficient at handling this case which is in the federal court as an interpleader case with the other beneficiaries suing too? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: The matter sounds complicated. If litigation in Federal Court has begun, you need to have an attorney or may forfeit your interest. If you have a medical opinion that states your father was incompetent when he signed the transfer, you have the beginning of a good case. I think you need an experienced estate attorney who also handles litigation in Federal Court. This is an unusual combination. The other more realistic option is to hire an estate lawyer and let him bring in a Federal Court litigation attorney as co-counsel. Good luck with your claim.
ELDER LAW, COMPETENCY, ELDER ABUSE, TRANSFER, LITIGATION