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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 20233
Experience:  Explains legal matters based on 14+ years experience.
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How do you declare an elderly parent incompetent in order to

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How do you declare an elderly parent incompetent in order to prevent someone else from taking over his life, house, and bank account? My father-in-law is 86 and my son (on probation for theft) is living there with a woman and the woman's boy friend. They are influencing him and we fear they will take over, even though my wife is supposedly handling his finances. My wife has a power of attorney and is joint on his bank account but is also esily manipulated by our son.
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What is your father-in-law's medical condition?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
He is being treated by the VA for several non life-threatening problems although we were informed about a year ago that he could die any time. He seems to have improved since. His mental state varies between that of a child (refusing to go to the hospital for tests after complaining of chest pains, for example) and he seems to subsist on cereal with an occassional meal of KFC chicken. Sometimes he remembers past events and discusses them for short periods in a very rational manner. Other times it is just as though we were talking with a very young child. Hospice comes every week or so to change his catheter. He spends almost his whole day and evening sitting in his recliner watching TV. He will not sleep in a bed, which is occupied by one of the other people living in the house anyway.
Does he have dementia and will a doctor testify to that?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
He has mild dementia, but I am not sure if a doctor will testify to that. He is a retired US Army Major and his medical care is by the local VA hospital. He can sound rational, but at the same time like a petulant child.
As the saying goes, "in order to pass go," you have to have a doctor who is willing to put in writing, and testify that the patient's medical condition is X and how s/he is unable to care for her/himself.

Are you able to "pass go"?

Have you been working with the hospice's social workers?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I don't know if we can "pass go." I'll see if I can find that out. My wife is the one with contact with the Hospice people, and there is a problem getting my wife to actually do something. She stalls on taking action even though she agrees when we talk about the problem.
The big picture is that you need to have a doctor say how he's not able to care for himself, including making financial decisions.

Then, you can go to court and request a conservator/guardian. Here's the kicker, though: since your wife already has POA, it's likely that if the court were to appoint anyone, it would be her -- and if she's not willing to be strong with your son now, there's no assurance that she would in the future. So, any court petition would have to request that a public administrator be appointed (i.e., not a family or friend). Your father-in-law's estate will incur expenses to pay for the public administrator.

At this point, it would be prudent to work with the hospice caseworker and see if they can give you some strategic direction.

Good luck and best wishes! I hope that you find this information to be helpful and this answer to be ACCEPTable!

If nothing else, this real life example is THE REASON why people should do careful estate planning NOW including who should care for and have say over them and in what circumstances. You always have to plan for the worst. It's not just about wills. It's about who will have control over your stuff when you are not able to exercise independent judgment.

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