Q: My grandfather recently died. He had a bank account set up for me and my two siblings.
My grandfather recently died. He had a bank account set up for me and my two siblings. During the time he had Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, and Dementia, my Aunt & Father were fighting in court over who had power of attorney. Over his money, wills, body, etc. My aunt got power of attorney over everything. When this happened, all money was liquidated into one account. Initially, there was a bank account that was pay upon death for me & my two siblings. My brother said that they should respect my grandfather and pay out everything the way that he wanted it to be, before they changed it. Now, my aunt is saying that we (the grandchildren) have no legal right, or "leg to stand on", because that account no longer exists. Is this right? Also, my father stole at lease 100k from my grandfather while he was sick. My aunt is insinuating that she wants to keep all of the money, give my father the house, and completely cut me & my brother & sister out of everything. What should I do?
A: There is no quick or easy answer to your question. Your aunt in her capacity as your grandfather's agent under the power of attorney created by him owed him a fiduciary duty to administer his property in his best interest. Furthermore, your aunt cannot act under the power of attorney for her best interest in contravention of what is in your grandfather's best interest. Under this principal of fiduciary duty, you could argue that your aunt subverted your grandfather's testamentary plans by retitling the bank account from payable on death to his sole name. This argument is only sustainable if your grandfather did not need this money for his personal expenses or debts during his lifetime. Additionally, in order to protect you and your sibling's rights in this matter, all of you will be required to institute actions in both the orphans' court where your grandfather's estate is opened as well as institute an action in the circuit court. You will definitely need to retain an attorney who practices in estate litigation to assist you in this case.
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