I am my father's only living adult child. He is in his early...

A fellow caregiver asked...

I am my father's only living adult child. He is in his early 80's. He is divorced. He is still of sound mind; however, I have noticed he needs more help. He asked me to pay his bills, which I now do. I am his executor in his trust from the early 1980's and have poa and we revise his health care initiative every few years.

He has had a 59 year-old woman living with him for the last few years. Against his will, she had her adult 19 year old daughter move in for one year (this is the second time she has done this against his will). With my counsel, because he was so stressed due to lack of privacy, space and appreciation, he asked the daughter to move back out.

He asked the woman to move out, indicating she could still come visit but she said she does not want to live with her sister, which is where her daughter moved to. She makes enough money to rent an apartment, but seems to just be saving all of her money while contributing nothing. My dad is on a very limited income and I help him whenever I can.

She has gotten quite nasty with him at times and then turns sweet. The woman sleeps in the extra bedroom, pays no rent and is a freeloader. She cooks occasional lunches for him and occasionally cleans the house.

I recently discovered my dad's medication ran out too soon so I worried he was taking too much too often. However, he told me that she was taking his medication even though he asked her not too and told her "it's against the law". She is a nurse's aide and works for an agency so I thought she should know better. I got my dad's prescription filled and now monitor it every week and keep the rest locked up. I believe my dad about her taking the medication because I found his exact milligrams in her prescription bottle which had smaller pills. I verified with a pharmacist with my dad that it was indeed his medication.

My dad seems to like her company sometimes and other times complains she should live with her sister. I think he feels lonely for companionship sometimes so he puts up with her behavior. Do you think I should get an additional document from an attorney stipulating her need to vacate the home upon his request? Given her refusal to leave, I feel worried. He also asked her not to use his home address as her address. She refused. He went down to the post office and changed it and she changed it back. He asked her to get a p.o. box and she refused. He seems relieved that she is aware that I am stepping in and taking care of things and visiting almost daily.

Should he leave her something in an additional codicil to his will? He has said he has done enough and doesn't want to leave her anything, but this living situation isn't addressed anywhere in his original trust or later documents, only that he leaves to her an "x" amount for the education of her daughter (he only did this because I thought it would be a nice gesture because they are needy, but now I'm so angry, I've lost all ability to think this one through.) What is the right thing to do for everyone involved? He also has three grandchildren (whom he adores and has named in his trust and I of course want to protect them and his wishes).

I want to 1) protect my dad while he is alive 2) protect his property and assets from people who have been living off of him and ensure his wishes are executed according to his trust and will.

I seriously lose sleep over this and would prefer my dad come and live with us, but he currently refuses. He loves his home and gardens and his independence. I want to respect his wishes as long as I can, but feel the need to also protect him against people who do not have and have never had his best interest in mind.

Expert Answer

You clearly care for your father and want to protect him. However, your power is limited as far as his living choices go. You state that your father is still of sound mind. Therefore you would not have a factual basis to try to gain legal control over how your father lives, by obtaining a court-ordered custodianship or guardianship of him"”not that you suggested that you were considering such a drastic step. It's certainly unfortunate that your father allows a freeloader to live in his home. But he does.

I don't think you need to get a document from an attorney stipulating her need to vacate the home on his request. That wouldn't help or change matters. The problem now is that he apparently does not want to insist that she leave. Or at least isn't ready to yet. If he makes up his mind that she should leave and she does not, then consult an attorney"”and the police.

You father does not have any legal obligation to leave the woman anything by his will or trust. There is no one "right" thing to do here. What's right is what your father wants, which seems to be that he does not want to leave her anything. A problem could arise after his death, however, if she claims that he promised to leave her money or property. To protect against this, I suggest that you have your father visit an attorney, and that your father sign an express declaration, made of a formal part of his will and his trust, that he does not leave anything to the woman,and never said he would.