Legal Question in Family Law in Pennsylvania

My Dad has been remarried to his second wife for 20 years. She has had some medical issues and her daughter is her financial POA. When they were married his wife got her house and it is only in her name. My Dad has been paying all of the bills on the house for the past 20 years including updating the kitchen, new roof, all new windows,($58k) and taxes and utilities.

They are now in an assisted living facility and her daughter is putting the house as her POA in her name or a trust. They don't seem to be willing to put the house into any payment for the two of them. Is there anything legally I can do to protect my Dad. Get him into an assisted facility just for him. Would he have legal responsibility for her or could he do some sort of legal separation?

Asked on 4/11/12, 2:38 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

A power of attorney does not necessarily allow the agent to put property in a trust. It allows the agent to manage the property. However, I would have to see the language in the power of attorney to know for sure,

Second, what are you protecting your father from? He lived in the house for 20 years. I presume he did not pay rent and benefitted from the improvements. He and his wife should have discussed this issue and if it was important, he would have asked to be added to the deed. If he was not concerned about this, I am not exactly clear why you are trying to interfere in property that is not owned by your father.

And why does the house have to be "put into a payment for the two of them?" It was not your father's house. It was the wife's house. It can be used for her benefit only. Again, if your father was concerned about this, then he and his wife could have set up a revocable living trust, put the house in the trust and provided that the assets would be used for both your father and his wife's benefit. Your father and his wife chose not to do that.

Finally, your father and his wife are in assisted living. POA does not extend to your father nor is a POA for finances suitable for healthcare decisions. Does your father have a healthcare power? What is his mental status? Does he wish to leave his wife of 20 years? Are you proposing now to separate him from his wife? Is that what he wants?

I don't understand what you mean "does he have legal responsibility for his wife." Are you asking if your father is financially responsible? Or responsible as a guardian? First, if the wife has a health care power of attorney, then the wife could choose anyone to be her healthcare agent. The agent may be the daughter or someone else. It is usually the husband, but it doesn't have to be and I don't know why your father is in assisted living. If he is not mentally competent to be agent, then it will be someone else.

If you are asking about financial responsibility, if the wife has resources to pay for her care, then she needs to use those resources. Your father has to use his resources for his own care. Who made the decision to put them in assisted living? Did someone else sign them in? That person may also be responsible.

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Answered on 4/11/12, 8:15 pm

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