Legal Question in Elder Law in Ohio

Our Uncle lived in Fl and we live in OH. He commeted suicide in June 2009. He had a couple that lived a few doors down taking care of him since his wife passed away in 2004. We went down there after her death to make sure he could take care of himself. He could not walk well and had visual problems. It was very unexpected that his wife died before him. She went in for a heart procedure and past away in the hospital. She walked 2 miles a day. She had wanted so bad to come up to OH to be hear with her grand-nephew. She was so happy that there was a young one to keep the family going. They were not able to have children and her sister had a boy who is my husband. Now, we have two children. Before we go there in 2004 our Uncle had already had this couple helping him do his bills, taking him to get groceries, medicine, basically caring for him. He had never had any contact with these people before she passed away. We spoke with them and gave them our phone number and address and told them please contact us if anything is not looking right or if you feel he can not do this on his own. At the time we were down there our Uncle had a trust made making us the trustees of it. He informed us that our son (we only had 1 at that time) was going to come into a lot of money at the time of his death for college, he informed us put him in a private school because there is 4000 shares of IBM stock for his education. Well, after we left we spoke with him often. His attitude toward my husband grew hot and cold. Then my father was in a severe car accident and took over a year to get better enough to be on his own. Then I got pregant with our 2nd son. Then our 1st son went into school. Needless to say we were unable to go to Fl. We did call these nieghbors about 15 to 20 times about our Uncles behavior and they said he was the same with them and they just ignored him if he was nasty with them. They never called us in 5 years exept the day he killed himself and at which time they informed us that he said he was going to do this everyday!!! Well, now he is gone and we went down there and all the paperwork is missing (we have some but not all). There was a joint checking to which they had there name on and they emptied that the day he died with automatic payments due to come out is that allowed? The other sad thing is that 4000 shares of IBM stock is now at 325. There is much more to the story but I was wandering about the joint checking she closed it so fast with bills being owed. They were also paid a lot of money to take care of him and there is missing money. Can I send them a W-2 for all of this money and do that have to show this and the money in the checking.


Asked on 2/21/10, 11:05 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Christine Socrates Christine Sabio Socrates, Attorney at Law

Unfortunately, if there was a joint checking account, upon your uncles death, it would go to the the survivor on the account. Essentially, if your uncle put them on the account, he made a gift to them. You may have an action if they coerced him or knew he was incompetent and they influenced him in any way to give them his money. If they were paid to take care of him, you could send them a 1099, not a w-2, if you know what the amount is.

If there are assets in his name alone or in a trust, they will not be able to transfer to themselves. Do you know what happened to the trust? Are you still the trustee? You need to find out what assets he still owns and whether they are in the trust? You should be able to take over his affairs and find out what assets he has by going through his possessions and especially his mail.

If you need assistance with this please contact my office at 216-378-7570.

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Answered on 2/26/10, 12:41 pm
Edward DiCato Edward DiCato Attorney at Law

What needs to be done is that an estate should be opened. You could apply to be executor. Then, as executor, you will have the legal power to investigate. Your attorney (should you retain one) would have the power to take depositions, request documents and more. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions. Ed DiCato

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Answered on 2/26/10, 1:58 pm


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