My Aunt's Power of Attorney (POA) sold my Aunt's Manhattan Co-op six months before she passed for $575,000. Records show that the Co-op was still owned by my Aunt and sold with POA acting as her agent.

I am one of three beneficiaries (cousins) to my Aunt's estate. The POA is not one of them. She has hired an attorney to handle the estate details. My cousins and I questioned the attorney asking if the $575,000 is part of the estate. After several months the attorney said NO since the property was not solely in my Aunt's name. Based on records the property never changed hands, but where the cash from the sale went is a mystery.

NY Law states that a POA shall not mix the assets of the client with personal funds. I suspect that a joint checking account which was set up by the POA might be where funds were deposited. My Aunt had dementia so she could not have agreed to this arrangement. The POA could easily paid bills by stating that she was acting as POA without putting her name on the account. All this is specifically outlined in NY State Law.

NY State also has procedures governing Elder Financial Abuse.

In addition POA also had Medical POA. Immediately before her death she was rushed to the hospital for a severe UTI. She was released a few days later. Her aide said she got worse and the facility and the POA would not let her aide call Emergency to transport her to hospital again and she passed in the night without medical attention still in the assisted living!

Needless to say I have grave misgivings about this POA and her attorney.

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Its my understanding that any POA dies when the person passes. So this person who had the POA lost all power when your Aunt passed.
So wondering was their a living trust, a will ?
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mtpietrucha Based on the details you wrote... I would like to be clear Your Aunt was living in an assisted living? Who paid for this bill? The financial POA usually needs to organize with the billing dept. In NY this usually cost at minimal, $5,000.00 a month, or twice that amount. That's not including meds, accessories needed, laundry, etc.
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None of this is a DIY, imo, you need an attorney.
Your Aunt is deceased, so anything now goes into probate court to be resolved. There’s is no person anymore, so you cant file under “elder” category as there is no elder, no person.

But on your own, you should be able to contact the courthouse for her jurisdiction (based on what her legal address was) to find out if probate has been opened for your dead Aunt. Probate as far as I’m aware is all open records, except for minor adoptions. So you can access whatever filed and pay for a download of the documents. In the documents there will be 3 things that are, imo, important:
- if you are named as a heir. If so you have “standing”. You wrote you are 1 of 3 beneficiaries. Do you absolutely know that you 3 are all named in the will or codicil? Not heard that this was to be, but actually on a document filed to the court? Did you 3 get a letter from the attorney notifying you all as named heirs?
- who is named Executor &
- who the former POA hired as the probate attorney.
then you take these and find your own probate attorney to represent you & you pay a retainer. You kinda imo need a probate atty who does litigation. Most probate guys in my experience as an Executor x3 don’t do litigation, so you need to ask. Some probate guys work with other firms, so IF the one she hired does this, you may need to contact several to find one without conflicts for representation.

If the will or codicil to the will is found valid, then that document has been filed with judges orders signed off on and there is now a case # and docket for Aunts Estate and Executor named for type of estate administration. It’s the terms of that document are what matters. I’m guessing that old DPOA - who is not an heir- is named executor for the estate as per will and as executor she has hired the law firm.
So is this - old DPOA is now Executor- what has happened???

Was Auntie on hospice???

How long was she in AL?
How was AL getting paid?
Aunt in AL but also had her own aide to tend to her? Is that right?

575k isn’t very much $ for NYC Manhattan co-op. Zillow has NYCity overall median at 780k but Manhattan median 1.6M. 575k pretty far from 1.6M. Was it teenytiny or marginal area, like Hamilton Heights?
Did co-op board have say over buyer?
Could she have been delinquent for co-op charges?
What other debts did she likely have?
Was it listed at 575k or actually sold for 575K?

Your answers will make a difference. Care & property costs & Realtor commission & funeral costs & estate administration do add up. There may not be much $ left. There will be an assets filing done for probate, if not already filed it will be filed eventually. Could be modest amount of $ left as assets of the estate.

Unless there were assets placed into a Trust (trust stuff goes outside of probate), everthing will go into your Aunts docket to be legally settled. Your litigation probate atty - who you hire & pay a retainer to - will file challenges to orders filed and to any distributions done. I’ve never personally known an probate atty to do case on only contingency fee, so if that’s how NYC attys roll, you need to have the $ to pay a retainer up front.
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Yes, u need an attorney. The POA will need to make an accounting especially where the 575K is involved. If she can't acct for it, its stealing.
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You will need to have this handled by a professional attorney. You cannot abuse someone who is dead, but you can mishandle an estate. It seems to me that in order to avoid such accusations the POA has hired an attorney. If you wish to invest money in checking things out you will be paying for it. Good luck.
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igloo572 Feb 2020
Alva, I don’t think the old DPOA hired a probate attorney because of concerns that others think they mishandled funds.
Rather it’s that as probate is so about exactly correct format, paperwork & timeline oriented, they can’t do that, they don’t know what’s required. But for probate attys, it’s all routine and atty has an on-line portal to place items into the Auntie docket / case file and get whatever claims filed or orders signed off on. Unless there’s litigation, in my experience, it’s initial before a judge appearance to have executor named & get Letters Testamentary and administration type determined and then maybe a second time appearance if it’s a big distribution to be done. Otherwise it’s all on-line. You & I can’t get onto the portal, as that’s for attorney recognized by the court with thier bar # attached. There isn’t any go to attorney office and sit around for a will reading anymore. If your an heir named in a valid will entered in probate, atty sends you a letter stating that with the case #. You can yourself monitor the case or contact the attorney.

The OP did that, & apparently didn’t like the answer. If they want the determination of assets challenged, they need to hire their own atty -who does probate litigation- to do this.

Also if the old DPOA is now the Executor & are not themselves a heir, why should they spend any unnecessary time & energy on probate or taking phone calls from heirs? You as Executor- hire an atty & let atty deal with the whatevers & estate pays for it. What an Executor can be compensated for usually - in my experience- is a small fixed % of estate; & if estate has a$$et$, you might get a draw on this if there’s unusual stuff, like if deceased has property in various counties or states and you as Executor needs to go there (rather than the attorney or hire another attorney). If estate goes negative at the end, there is no $ for the Executor.
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