Man who disliked wills doesn't know he has one

Posted: March 08, 2013

DEAR HARRY: My father lives in the suburbs of Harrisburg. He is now mentally incapacitated. He sometimes knows who I am, but he almost never recognizes my sister. About 10 years ago, we persuaded him to give his longtime caretaker a general power of attorney. She pays his bills and keeps his records up to date in addition to caring for him. Dad has always disliked wills. He believed the superstition that making a will causes you to die soon afterward. Last week, my sister called me after visiting my father and told me she saw a will signed by his caretaker as power of attorney. It left all to her except for $25,000 each to us. His estate is worth at least $1.5 million, according to his accountant. I'm certain he knows nothing about this. Do we fire his caretaker? Do we destroy that will? Do we move him to a nursing home in this area? Help!

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Wills signed by anyone other than the principal are invalid everywhere, even where they're signed by a person with broad powers of attorney. However, destroying that will may be a good idea. Notify his bank and broker that the power of attorney will be terminated, and get his lawyer to do it now. Has his accountant looked for possible sticky fingers in handling his money? Terminate the caretaker. My vote is to get him into a good nursing home down here, with you or your sister (or both) having the power of attorney. His lawyer can arrange that. It's very lucky that he has money.


Email Harry Gross at harrygrossDN@gmail.com or write to him at the Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia 19107.

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