Protecting elderly father

This is a discussion on Protecting elderly father within the Family Law Questions forums, part of the Legal Questions & Answers Forum category; My father is 89 years old and lives in Florida. I am his ONLY biological child and I live in Arkansas. I have three half-sisters and one half-brother; we share ...

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  1. #1
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    Protecting elderly father

    My father is 89 years old and lives in Florida. I am his ONLY biological child and I live in Arkansas. I have three half-sisters and one half-brother; we share the same mother; deceased. One of the half-sisters (the eldest) is technically not a sister at all, but a first cousin raised by our mother; never formally adopted. My father never adopted any of these half-siblings.
    When my husband and I visited Dad in 2011 he insisted that I look over his will and his power of attorney designation. He gave POA (financial and medical) to one of my half-sisters; we’ll call her “Jane” that lives in Tennessee (with me being #2 on the POA). When I questioned this Dad told me he did it that way because she lived closer to him and was single with no obligations outside of work. I live further away and own a farm with my husband. In his will Dad designated that all of us would share and share alike his estate - which I have no qualms about.
    He did not give POA to the half-sister (let's call her Anne) that lives just a few miles from him for several reasons. #1. She has a gambling problem. #2. She is extremely reckless with money. And #3. She is raising her two teen grandsons, both of whom have several mental issues; in fact, one was recently released from a state mental treatment facility after he killed the family dog and put a knife to my half-sister’s throat as she slept. This half-sister also has a habit of borrowing anywhere from $50 to $300 from Dad each and every month.
    Dad was in pretty good health until February of this year when he had a mild heart attack complicated by pneumonia and pleurisy. He took a fall while in the hospital and hasn’t been able to return to his home since. He is in his third nursing home since February. The current one is called an assisted living facility, but Dad is kept on a locked ward. Since Dad has been living in nursing homes, Anne and Jane have been basically running amok with his assets. Jane has taken and/or given away some of his belongings; she even gave away Dad’s car to Anne and is paying Anne mileage and gas money to go to the nursing home or “run errands” concerning Dad. Anne helped herself to quite a few things in Dad’s house with Jane’s approval.
    When Dad was first moved to the nursing home I offered to bring him into our home, which these two half-sisters are strongly against. This makes sense for several reasons. I am the only married sibling, living a comfortable life with my husband. We are not hurting financially. We saved for hubby’s retirement. We’re not rich by any means, but we are comfortable. My husband is a retired law enforcement officer and I hold a degree in medical assisting and graduated nursing school, though I am not licensed in the state of Florida. I have done quite a bit of private hospice care. The eldest half-sister (cousin) does not want him living with her and her live-in boyfriend. Jane can’t take him because she works 50 – 60 hours a week. Anne has those two grandsons living with her and just tonight, 911 was called when she got into a dispute with the older, more violent boy. My half-brother is a drug user and has basically said to let him know when to show up for the reading of the will.
    Yesterday Dad took another fall at the nursing home; his sixth fall since June. I was not informed of a fall last week when he broke a finger. Anne no longer updates me after I have paid a few surprise visits after each fall. Yesterday’s fall was the most serious by far. He opened a large wound on his head – right down to the skull and developed a brain bleed. He was moved from a local hospital to a large hospital in a major city a few hours later. Dad remains in a neurological ICU as of now, with plans to move him to a regular room hopefully sometime tomorrow. The hospital staff has informed Jane that he needs more one-on-one care than can be provided at the ALF. The ALF is saying they may not take him back because he’s a liability.
    I had a long talk with Jane yesterday and told her she needs to start giving serious consideration to letting Dad come live with my husband and me. She said she now feels that is a viable option; then she talked to Anne. Now she is back to saying he needs to stay in Florida. Anne is telling folks that she plans to move him in with her and her out-of-control grandsons.
    I cannot bear the thought of my father living in that nightmare!
    A lawyer we consulted here in Arkansas advised hubby and myself to go down there, take Dad out to lunch and bring him home to Arkansas; filing for guardianship as soon as we are back in the state. I can’t get Dad on a plane. He is no longer competent. I might be able to trick him into getting on the plane, but I’m concerned he will freak out @ 30,000 feet; plus he is fully incontinent. At best, driving straight through we could make it by car in 18 hours, but I have no way to provide Dad’s medications during that time.
    I’m sorry for the super long post, but can someone please tell me how to protect my Dad??? Is there a way to get adult protective services involved in the state of Florida (even with a POA in place)?


  2. #2
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    Tia since your father is no longer competent it may be necessary to have a court declare him incompetent and appoint a conservatof or guardian. The problem is that if the court appoints your sister to be the conservator, nothing will change. When ever you go to court there is an element of uncertainty of the outcome. Your half-sister may present well and convince the court to keep him in Florida. It would be challenging to gather admissable evidence against your half-sister in order to present an accurate picture to the court. It seems clear that your Florida relatives want to continue to milk his assets away with the power of attorney. It is a real concern, because, depending on the POA all of his assets could be liquidated and mis-appropriated. I would contact a family law attorney or more in the jurisdiction where your father lives and consider your options.
    Legal Disclaimer: Answers to questions on this forum are for informational and educational purposes only and do not constitute Legal Advice. No attorney-client relationship is established through this forum.


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