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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 24202
Experience:  14 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
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I am conservator/guardian for my mother. She resides in a

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I am conservator/guardian for my mother. She resides in a nursing home. All of her funds are allocated to pay nursing home cost, except $60 for personal use. She no longer can afford her personal residence. The water department has placed two water utility property tax liens on the house. The two adults who reside in the home have failed to pay the water utility. The water company threatened to turn off the water and I agreed to let them do it. The judge told us (my sister, brother, and me) to pay 1/3 of the current outstanding water bill, which I did. My sister and brother have not paid their portion yet. The water department says they will not turn the water back on until the liens are paid off. Am I responsible to pay off the liens out of my own funds? My sister and brother have never been charged rent. We go back to probate court on September 16, 2013. My sister is threatening to bring a lawyer with her. Should I pay the property tax utility liens and have the water turned off since I agreed with the water company to turn the water off? How much trouble am I in? Do I need a lawyer too? Deborah J
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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If the judge has ordered you each to pay 1/3 of the bill and you have done so, then you are in compliance with the judge's orders on the matter. If you have done what the judge has ordered, then you can't be held liable if they cut off the water.
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If you are in the position as guardian for mother, then you are essentially acting as her agent with regard to her property. But that does not mean that you are personally liable for her debts if she doesn't have adequate funds to pay them. So you can't be held liable to pay the water bill yourself if siblings don't pay their ordered share.
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If your siblings are living there and are using mother's property, the least they can do is pay the water charges that they are responsible for incurring. At this point, if sister is not able to pay the water bill, I find it extremely unlikely that she will have a few thousand dollars to pay an attorney to show up and try to argue.
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BotXXXXX XXXXXne is that as long as you have done what the judge ordered, you can't be held personally liable for the bills.
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Remember, the water has already been shut off as of August 9, 2013. The judge order us to resolve this by September 16th. I explained to the judge that the water company wanted the lien paid as well as the current bill, but the judge shrugged it off and told us each to pay 1/3 of the current water bill. Even if or when my sister and brother pay the bill, I know the water company is still demanding the lien to be paid before they agree to turn the water back on. Also the file clerk gave my sister the phone number of a public defender. I believe they serve at no cost. I am concerned about showing up at court with the matter still unresolved (water still off). How much trouble am I in? She claimed that she paid rent to my father who is now deceased; however, I have never received any rent from my sister or brother. She have an oral agreement that they can stay in the house as long as they pay the utilities. Technically, am I acting as landlord on behalf of my mother? Help!

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Ok, even if they have actually cut the water off, you have complied with what the judge has ordered. You have to keep in mind that the judge is the only one who has the authority to order you to do anything. So as long as you have done what he said, you are fine.
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Also the file clerk gave my sister the phone number of a public defender. I believe they serve at no cost.
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As a former Public Defender myself, I can tell you that they don't handle civil matters, only criminal ones..
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Since you are mother's guardian, you have the legal authority to evict both of them from the house if they are still living there if you choose to. As her legal agent, since they are legally considered month to month tenants under an oral lease agreement, you can terminate their tenancy with a written notice to vacate due to violating the oral lease contract by not paying the utilities and then formally evict them through the courts if they refuse to leave.
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Okay. While the eviction process takes place, am I liable to pay property taxes, insurance, etc on my mother's property out of my own funds? If I allow the house to be foreclosed upon due to not paying taxes and/or liens, will I ultimately be held responsible for the cost? Keep in mind my mother is in a nursing home with the assistance of Medicaid.


 


Also I am considering asking the judge on September 16th to appoint a third party conservator/guardian over my mother simply because this is costing me too much money; that is, my family expect me to pay their living expenses out of my own monies. At this point, I just want to go back to being a daughter. By the way, my sister is a drug addict. There is no one else in the family capable or willing to take over. I have another sister who wants to take over but she will try to take my mom out of the nursing home & put her back in the house with my drug addict sister. I took my mom out last year due to neglect (malnourished 72 lbs) under my drug addict sister's care. This is why I am considering a third party to take over conservator and guardianship. I have had enough. Thank you.

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
While the eviction process takes place, am I liable to pay property taxes, insurance, etc on my mother's property out of my own funds?
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No, a guardian never has personal liability for the debts of the ward. These are mother's debts, not yours. You are just basically an employee and mother the employer...
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Also I am considering asking the judge on September 16th to appoint a third party conservator/guardian over my mother simply because this is costing me too much money.
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This may be a good idea when you get back to court to ask the judge if you can resign as mother's guardian/conservator. You shouldn't be paying anything out of your own money to pay mother's bills. If she doesnt' have adequate funds, then those bills just don't get paid and services will be terminated.
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


BotXXXXX XXXXXne. Would it be a terrible mistake on my part to pay the property liens, property taxes, obtain insurance, etc. , water utilities just to appease my family?


 


Is this the natural process of being a conservator over someone who has no funds? Do not pay the bills and let things be turned off! Are you sure that I will not get in trouble or be held liable?

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Would it be a terrible mistake on my part to pay the property liens, property taxes, obtain insurance, etc. , water utilities just to appease my family?
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I don't know if I would call it a "mistake" but you will be enabling them to continue to remain on the property and use it at your expense. When they refuse to pay bills later on as well, you would find youself in the same situation as you are in now. When winter comes, the house will have to be heated and that is expensive as well...
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If it were me, since this has reached a boiling point now, I would go ahead and resolve it now by telling siblings that you are not able to financially support them and mother doesn't have to funds to do so either. Then they will either have to move on or take efforts to support themselves and pay any bills they incur.
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Is this the natural process of being a conservator over someone who has no funds? Do not pay the bills and let things be turned off! Are you sure that I will not get in trouble or be held liable?
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Yes, this is the natural progression of things if a ward doesn't have adequate funds to pay for their debts to maintain a separate residence. And yes, as I mentioned earlier, you are just a representative of mother, you are not personally liable to pay her bills.
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


So when that house is foreclosed on, as her conservator, I will not be accused of wasting my mom's largest asset. The letters of authority dictate that I cannot sell the property. Am I suppose to request to sell the property subject to court approval? Or can I choose the first option that I want to take, let the house be foreclosed on because it is a distressed property in a deteriorating neighborhood. I do not believe I could sell it even if the court allowed me to.

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
So when that house is foreclosed on, as her conservator, I will not be accused of wasting my mom's largest asset.
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As her conservator, you have the legal power to put it up for sale if the judge allows it if there is equity in it and then use that money for her care. But if she is on Medicaid, they may already have a lien on it for her care costs and any money would have to be turned over to them anyway.
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So if there is equity in the house, ask the judge to allow you to sell it and turn the money over for her care to Medicaid or put it in an account to wait on them to make a claim. Explain that mother has no money to maintain the house and if it is not sold, it may be foreclosed on.
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The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that your duty is to manage her finances. If she doesn't have anything to manage, then you don't have to come out of pocket to pay for her expenses or to preserve whatever assets she has. If the house needs a roof or water heater and mother doesn't have the money, you can't be forced to pay for it. Same thing with bills or the mortgage or insurance, etc..
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Thanks
Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 24202
Experience: 14 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
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Barrister
Barrister
Estate Lawyer
24202 Satisfied Customers
14 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate