Legal Question in Elder Law in Pennsylvania

Hello I am not sure where to start. Well my grandfather appointed me power of attorney on his bank accounts only. My Aunt was helping him with his finances and his medications and she urged him and me to take over as the poa on his accounts so we went to the bank and did so. Not long after that I get a call he was doing really bad he was in the hospital and deemed incompetent he had no idea who I was. He has a son (my father) who is disabled and a step son that he has not spoken to in over 10 years. He had to go to a rehab facility where it was really bad he was hitting and kicking and biting people this was not my grandfather. I had to take sometime of work just because when the nursing home called I had to be there to try and calm him down. I used his account to pay some of my bills and have put the money back in there. He has come back to us now and is doing great. Well the big problem is my aunt his sister in law is opening his mail and copied bank statements and gave them to his step son and is wanting to know why I wrote out checks. I have done everything I am suppose to I pay his bills and the money I used when I couldn't work to help him is back in his account. He contacted the department of aging and I honestly don't know what he is doing. I contacted everyone when this happened and told them what was going on with him. The only thing my uncle worried about was the house and my father said he couldn't do anything because he has to worry about himself. My grandfather can't live on his own so at the end of the month he is planning on moving in with us. What should I do is what my Aunt did illegal? Is what I did illegal should I do anything else? And can my Uncle do anything? They are saying I am hiding him from them which is not the case I have phone records proving I called everyone and he has gotten christmas cards from family members at the nursing home. Can you give me some advise? Thank You!

Asked on 1/05/11, 7:29 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

First, do you have a real power of attorney document (not just being added to a bank account)?

Second - NEVER take money belonging to the principal (your grandfather). Keep records. If there is a real power of attorney documents, what, if anything, does it say about compensation or reimbursement of the agent?

Third - what proof do you have that you paid the money back? Cancelled checks, deposit slips? If you don't have it, get it. You will need to be able to prove that you made full reimbursement and caused no loss.

Fourth - why is the aunt opening his mail? Does she have the real power of attorney? If not, she should be be doing it. It is illegal to tamper with someone's mail and is a federal offense.

Fifth - your information is somewhat haphazard but is the uncle and step-son the same person? Do either of them (if different) have power of attorney? If not, then they really cannot do anything either unless they seek legal appointment as guardian.

Sixth - is your grandfather mentally competent now? If not and there is no power of attorney, then anyone can apply to be his legal guardian of property and his person. It can be the same person or different people. If your uncle does not get answers, he can go to court to ask to be the guardian. He already has gone to the Department of Aging. You can oppose, but a court is not going to look kindly on the fact that you took the money and they are not going to put you in charge of that. Again, you have to prove that you paid the money back or else the guardian may try and have you ordered to pay the money back. It might also be a theft crime. I do not mean to scare you, but it will depend on how much trouble your aunt and uncle want to make for you. Phone calls do not mean a thing - you better get bank records proving that the money is back there.

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Answered on 1/13/11, 2:24 pm

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