Power of Attorney/Land Owner Name Change

You guys seem to know something about everything, so I thought I’d let you try your hands at this:

My grandmother is showing early signs of dementia, and is forgetting simple things, like how to fill out a check, how to take medicine, etc.

She has two children, my mother and my aunt, who need to have power of attorney should she “lose her mind.” There is also a need for her land ownership to be transferred into her daughters’ names so that the land will not be counted against her as “assets” if she needs to pay bills.

If her daughters have power of attorney, can they transfer ownership? Can they do this without her consent (neither of them would ever abuse this privilledge) because she’s stubborn?

Have any of you been in a similar situation?

Any advice will be much appreciated.

I’m in the USA for law purposes.


iceman866, you’re going to get a slew of replies that will say “don’t ask for legal advice on the board” and/or “consult a competent attorney in your jurisdiction” and I certainly will not dispute this. It’s true - no one can/should give you legal advice here and you should certainly seek a competent attorney in your jurisdiction. But you may also want to become educated before that –

I suggest checking out the elder care section of Nolo.com for some good basic information. The last item on the list is Healthcare Directive and Power of Attorney (or something like that). In addition to the power of attorney, I highly suggest that your family consider a health care directive for your grandmother because at some point, sadly, she may become unable to care for herself and this is a good way to make sure she’s taken care of and according to her wishes.

In general, executing power of attorneys are not complicated. The thing about your grandmother’s situation is that with her dementia, there may be a question of capacity, but this is why you need a lawyer to sort out this stuff.

I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother, but am glad that she has family to care for her.

IANAL, but your grandmother’s dementia raises a serious problem. Someone who’s suffering from dementia can’t execute a power of attorney - only someone who’s legally competent can do so. This is a case in which you’ll probably need to get a court to declare her incompetent before you mother and aunt can take control of her affairs.

There’s also a problem with transferring ownership of her property just so that it won’t get used to pay bills. If she already owes some money, transferring the property could be construed as an attempt to defraud her creditors. If it’s a matter of making her eligible for government assistance, the government will not look kindly upon an attempt by your mother and aunt to hide your grandmother’s assets by transferring ownership.

Get yourself to an attorney. This sounds like a case in which “do it yourself” could land someone in legal hot water.

Thanks for the replies. Her daughters already have power of attorney, and they are working with an attorney, so no fears about the legal issues.

I was just curious if anyone else had experience with a similar situation.

Thanks for your concern.

I am not sure what you mean by the above quote. If you are referring to qualifying for Medicaid, assets “count” if they are owned by the applicant within the last 2 years. This is to prevent a person transferring everything to a relative at the last minute and then getting Medicaid, which is intended to help those who are truly without assets. And as someone else mentioned, misrepresenting facts for that purpose gets everyone in a whole slew of hot water.

Good thing you’re seeing a lawyer.
IANAL, but went through similar stuff a year ago when my father was ill with what turned out to be terminal illness. I can tell you my sister and I were VERY glad that there existed:
An advance health care directive (living will)
Durable power of attorney

IANADoctor, either, but it may be possible that although she’s forgetful, she is still competent enough to exercise legal actions.

Yes, I had a similar situation with my parents, and now with an my uncle and aunt.

There is a lot to be dealt with.

It sounds as if your mother and aunt are working on it in the right way. Details would vary with the situation.

General power of attorney covers property decisions; medical PoA involves medical decisions, esp. when the person is unable to communicate for whatever reason; durable PoA means the PoA stays in force after the person is incapable of revoking it, ie is incompetent or in a coma for instance.

There are legitimate ways to handle property and “spending down”, and the lawyer should know what’s what. You want one who has experience with this kind of thing (not necessarily your second cousin the criminal prosecutor, for instance).

Then besides the legal/financial/insurance issues, your grandmother will likely need help with living her life. Does your grandmother live near your mother and/or your aunt? They are likely to have their hands full, and anything that makes it simpler is good.

We went through this with my wife’s mother a while back. My wife is the only child and sole heir, so there wasn’t any problem about dividing the assets or anything like that. Our lawyer told us that she was competent unless she was declared incompetent by a court, which of course didn’t happen. My wife sold her house, while she was still alive, using her power of attorney, and didn’t have any problems. This was in Ohio. YMMV, IANAL, etc.