I am a 63 year old man...in 2013 i was hit by a car and awarded a substantial amount of money...at the time i made my sister my guardian because i suffered a broken neck and amnesia.....my sister recently passed away and my un--trusted niece wants me to sign papers i am not comfortable signing.......Please assist me in making the right decision for my future.
4 Answers from Attorneys
You need to see an elder law/estate planning attorney. No attorney on a public bulletin board can assist you. For one, you do not post enough relevant information.
Obviously, if you do not trust your niece then do not sign anything. But who else do you have? Friends? Other relatives? You indicate a substantial amount of money. Find a fee only financial planner at www.napfa.org and make sure this money is WISELY invested. Consult an estate planning attorney and make a will/trust leaving anything in your estate to the people you want to benefit. It does not have to be your niece. The attorney should also be preparing a financial power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney and living will for you. These documents will appoint someone to be your agent and manage your finances and person should you become incapacitated.
Yes contact the local bar association at once. There are programs to help people such as yourself.
There are Professional Geriatric Care Managers who can provide some of the resources and care you may need. There is a PA organization, seniorcareofpa.com, and a website for the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers - www.aginglifecare.org. An elder law attorney should be able to assist you in accessing these organizations and getting the professional care supervision you need.
Also, as the others have pointed out, you should not be signing anything appointing a person you do not trust to govern your financial affairs. A Supplemental Needs Trust can be set up for your benefit, with an organization such as The ARC Community Trust of Pennsylvania - http://arctrust.org/section85f4.html?id=14027 - as a Trustee or co-Trustee. This organization does nothing but administer such trusts and is fully familiar with the requirements of such a trust so that it will properly disburse funds to maintain the beneficiary's (your) eligibility for programs you might require. The elder law/medicaid attorney will be able to advise you about this.
THIS RESPONSE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, SINCE I DO NOT HAVE ALL OF THE INFORMATION THAT WOULD BE REQUIRED, AND I DO NOT HAVE A REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT WITH YOU.
* If the answers to your question confirm that you have a valid issue or worthwhile claim, your next step should almost always be to establish a dialog with a lawyer who can provide specific advice to you. Contact a lawyer in your county or township.
* Another reason for contacting a lawyer is that it is often impossible to give a good answer in the Internet Q&A format without having more information. The unique circumstances of your situation and things that you may not have thought to mention in your question may completely change the answer. If you want to be sure that you have a complete answer to your question and an understanding of what that answer means, establish a connection with a lawyer who practices in the area of your concern.
I am sorry to hear about your accident and sincerely hope that you are recovering from your injuries.
In answer to your question, I wholeheartedly agree with my colleagues. Under no circumstances should you permit your niece to manage your financial or personal affairs. You should keep as much distance from her as possible and be on the alert so that she does not commence any Court proceedings to declare you incompetent and have herself appointed your guardian. You are obviously mentally competent to realize that she would not be a good candidate to manage your affairs.
You are still quite young and my suggestion would be to find an attorney you can trust and have her make the necessary calls on your behalf and explain the differences in the available alternatives. Then have her prepare a living will in which you would set down on paper your wishes regarding your medical care in the event you become incapacitated at some time in the future and have the attorney also prepare a will setting forth how you want your estate to be distributed when the time comes. If you have further questions, please feel free to call me at 610-259-2724
ANDREA G. TILLIS