Pittsburgh, PA asked in Family Law and Elder Law for Pennsylvania

Q: My best friend has been placed in a nursing home permanently. How can I clean out her apartment for her?

My sister (actually best friend) has been placed in a nursing home permanently. Her immediate family will not clean out her apartment. It is paid up for the next two weeks, which is the end of the month. She has nobody else to do it. She stands to lose everything if the management has to clean it out due to nonpayment of rent next month. If she electronically signs an document online stating that I and her son may enter and dispose of her belongings as we see fit. Will that protect us from her other family members who do not have power of attorney? She is not wealthy. She lived in a senior high-rise. She has nothing of great value, just sentimental items, and a few new things like a sofa, lift chair, clothing, etc. She has no living will nor estate will.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Kathryn Hilbush
Kathryn Hilbush
  • Media, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: When you say clean out, does that mean you intend to store her effects or get rid of them? Even though she doesn't have a will doesn't mean there will no be an estate raised. You might do best with staying out of this or, if your conscience won't allow that, then you could meet with an experienced trust and estates attorney to learn what you might be able to do. Since you haven't mentioned whether your friend is legally competent, I can't suggest that you have her sign paperwork permitting you to enter her apartment, but, in meeting with an attorney, you can discuss matters in more detail. If she's legally competent and can understand what's going on around her, perhaps having an attorney go to her to discuss her wishes is an even better option, but the attorney might prefer that the initial contact come from her. I just can't guess what approach is best without knowing additional facts.

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