Ask a Question

Do we need an attorney to fight a guardianship petition?

My stepbrother who has been largely absent from any involvement or care for his elderly father has suddenly started taking an interest in our parents' finances and thinks that because our parents are experiencing falls from time to time that they both belong in a nursing home even though I found and hired a caregiver who helps take care of them during the week. When he snooped in his father's den, he discovered that our parents assisted my oldest sister financially by taking out a home equity loan against her home (that used to be in their names) since she does not have a credit rating that would allow her to acquire a loan herself.

My sister has been the primary caregiver for our parents for at least the last 10-15 years and they wanted to help her out since she had a messy divorce that required a large payout to her ex-husband for his half of their home. They also made the decision to quitclaim their house (which is paid off) to my sister so that if anything happens to them she will have a means to pay off this loan and have something for her own retirement someday. Unfortunately, my 84 mother is now suffering from Level 2 dementia and my 90 year old stepfather is also experiencing memory loss issues. My stepfather doesn't remember signing over the house to my sister even though my sister reminded him of it several times and it was done at a time when they both were of completely sound mind and body as witnessed by their estate attorney.

The stepbrother is accusing my sister of elder abuse because of this financial entanglement. She has a durable POA for both our stepfather and our mother as well as a medical POA for both. The initial court hearing happened and the commissioner who heard the case is already siding with our stepbrother and has ordered that my sister quitclaim the house back into their names. The stepbrother's sole objective is to sell off our parents’ home and force them into a nursing home regardless of what they want. Because I live in another state along with a third sister I cannot be there physically to help out. I'm worried that my sister who has been there taking care of our parents will be left penniless because not only will she have to give them back their house, but once it is sold and used for private pay for their nursing care there will be nothing left for her. The brother is also insisting that she find a way to pay off that $60k note which is just impossible for her to do without selling her own home (assuming she even has that much equity in it). I have tried to talk my sister into hiring an attorney for herself so she can defend herself against many of the lies against her that he put forth in his petition and to make sure that she isn't forced to give up her own home in order to be able to sell our parents’ home. My other sister and I already sent a statement to the court saying that we would step up and take on guardianship or POA of our mother if they decide that my caretaker sister isn't suitable. But the commissioner who heard the case didn't even read our statements or seem interested in anything we might have to say in the matter either.

Status: Open    Sep 26, 2016 - 09:33 AM

Elder Law

Do you have the same question? Follow this Question

1 answer

Expert Answers

Sep 28, 2016 - 01:06 PM

You need to get an attorney right away or you will be caught out with no rights and an empty feeling in your gut as your brother "runs away with the spoon". If you need help in New Jersey I have been an attorney for over 35 years, call me, my contact information can be found on my bio page by clicking on my name beneath my photo.


Answer this question

Recently Active Members