We live in California. My dad receives SSI, and I am his...

3 answers | Last updated: Jun 22, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

We live in California. My dad receives SSI, and I am his full-time caregiver. Dad has dementia - Alzheimer's Disease. My older sister is in charge of all his finances - she signs his checks for rent, utilities, life insurance, etc. Can she legally go to a car dealership and buy a car with his funds so we can get him to and from doctor's visits, and whatever else?

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

You indicate in your question that your "older sister is in charge of all his finances," but unfortunately you do not indicate the basis for her authority. She may derive her authority from being a joint owner on his checking or savings accounts. If this is so, she has a legal right to access to any or all of those accounts for whatever reason she chooses. If her authority is derived from a Durable Power of Attorney, she would have the power to purchase a car to meet his transportation needs unless the specific terms of this particular Durable Power of Attorney limited her authority to prohibit such an action which is highly unlikely. Finally, she may have the authority by way of being appointed by a court as his guardian or conservator. If so, she would have the authority to make such a purchase. If her authority is purely as a joint owner of accounts, she may wish to consult a lawyer to become appointed his guardian which will provide her with authority to deal with matters such as his income taxes and decision making regarding his health care that would not be covered by merely being a joint owner of an account.

Community Answers

Lindasd answered...

I have Durable Power of Attorney in Florida for my mother and I purchased a car for her, titled and registered in her name. It was the durable power that allowed me to sign for her. The dealership never did this and got with their legal department which was fine with it.

However, I could not sell or change the title of the car which I thought odd. Eventually when I wanted to put the title in my name, I had to take my mom to the DMV and she had to sign. They would not accept the power of attorney. Something to keep in mind. This may vary by state.

A fellow caregiver answered...

so what is the difference between, conservatorship & guardianship ?? Does each State differ in its definitions?

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