When Powers of Attorney Go Wrong – Senior Fights to Save His Home

Elder law issues are complex and comprehensive. Many attorneys practice exclusively in this area, because the legal issues facing the nation’s growing number of seniors are very unique, encompassing many different matters, including securing healthcare, at-home support, inheritance planning, and more.

Unfortunately, some try to use generic shortcuts to handle some of these matters, instead of creating comprehensive plans that take different issues into account. For example, some many that adding a child’s name onto a bank account or having a single Power of Attorney drafted are enough to solve any issues that might arise.

Examples continue to mount, however, illustrating how these shortcuts can cause serious problems. That is particularly true when disagreements arise between family members who were given various power and control over the affairs of the senior.

Evicted from Own Home
For example, the American Bar Association Journal pointed to a story this week exploring the story of one man–a 91-year old WWII veteran–who engaged in a high-profile fight to stay in his home.

The senior had given a Power of Attorney to his adult daughter several years ago. In 2004, using that legal authority, the daughter transferred ownership of the home to herself and her husband. Later, a dispute arose between the senior and his adult daughter. While details are somewhat sparse, the disagreement was rooted in visitation rights for another of the senior’s children–a man with autism.

Eventually, the disagreement rose to the point where the adult daughter filed eviction papers against the senior. Because the daughter was the legal owner of the home, the man had little recourse. He had lived in the home for 56-years. The senior tried to fight back, filing a lawsuit to stay in the house. However, an appeals court judge threw out the suit, because the man was apparently aware of the property transfer and voluntarily handed over Power of Attorney.

Since then, various efforts have been waged to save the man’s home, including an online fundraising drive which raised $125,000 so that the veteran could buy back his house.

No Shortcuts
It is understandable that seniors are willing to hand over control of affairs to those closest to them, like adult children. However, in most cases, it is far safer to have professionals involved. This ensures that an objective eye will be in control of affairs, eliminating even the temptation of abuse and ensuring the best interests of the senior are prioritized at all times.

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