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I'm in a situation where one of my father has gone through the process of doing all of their estate planning with a trust, a POA, directive and will. Since that happened a little over a year ago the only information my father has shared with me are some vague details about what I will be getting and that I will be the executor. Recently I have seen some actions from my father that are making me question if that is actually what he has in his estate plans.


Legally I have no right to see this, and I have simply asked if this is something I can see, minus that I have been very honest in saying that I would be happy to take on the role if that is what the documents say, but that my default position is that I'm assuming that I will get nothing. With that being said what has me more concerned are the details surrounding his POA and health directives. I know he has both, but I have no idea who has been named. I have asked him multiple times directly if he can either tell me who has been named or to just tell me that he would prefer not to tell me but every time he evades the question. His current mental state is that he is legally able to make his own decisions but we are seeing early stages of what might be cognitive decline.


This puts me in the position where if something was to happen I would literally not know who to contact if I got a call. For all that I know I could be named, but based on our family dynamics there are other members of the family that I would fully expect to take legal action if I did anything that is not 110% by the book just to cause trouble. Though I am always one to run clean books with my own business this is a situation where I feel like I need to be extra careful.


Because of that I told him that if he refuses to tell me who I would need to contact then to the best of my knowledge the only thing I could legally tell someone would be that there are directives and POA's in place to the best of my knowledge but I have no idea who it is. Following on from there to my knowledge it seems like from a legal standpoint my only choice would be to not enter his house, or take on any of these roles and likewise make sure that nobody else does unless they can provide legal documentation giving them the right to do so or unless I am presented with documentation giving me the legal right to take on this role.


Am I missing anything with this? My intent is to be able to help and I would be willing to take on these roles if that was what he wanted and it is done 100% legally and ethically. But at the same time I'm really struggling with the reluctance to just tell me who I would need to contact if something happened. My goals are to be ethical, and to do everything by the book. (avoiding lawsuits etc.)

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How are you supposed to find this will when he dies? It sounds like you were named executor of the will, but how is this will supposed to magically appear if he dies tomorrow? How could you carry out the intentions that he stated when you can't even find the will? Dying 'without a will' is a huge probate mess. Is somebody supposed to call you on the phone and bring a will on over? Is it in his desk? Where are you supposed to look for it? Better get the secret code on where to find it. Focus on being allowed into the relationship with the attorney, somehow, so you at least know the attorney name and whether you were assigned any duties and whether a DPOA was drawn up or some kind of trust created. He might be the sole trustee of a revokable trust, yet have named successor trustees in the event of his incapacity and you would like to know that if you could. He might not want you to know that if he is paranoid that you would have him declared incapacitated so that you could become trustee.
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pamstegma -- posted:
First the POA is only active while the person is alive.

Second, after death the Will is in force and the Executor is in charge.
Third, as an old person myself, I don't want my family bugging me for all the darn details, because it opens up a can of worms.

So stop asking him. Show a little respect.

The only way to prove that you are not interested in what you are getting is to stop asking about it.

The original question was : "Parent won't give POA information. Any advice?"

Now replies have slid into questions about wills a very different subject.

I don't see any reply where pamstegma is telling anyone to lie.
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Years ago I had My Mom put all important papers in one place. Wills, deeds, birth certificate, marriage certicates, death certicates, dads military discharge,etc. Now she has Dementia so glad I had her do it.
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{This puts me in the position where if something was to happen I would literally not know who to contact if I got a call.}

I have a sibling who has decided not to share. I have received calls from people have been given my name to call. I refer the caller to the sibling's attorney.
Sharing things such as wills does open a can of worms IMCO. In my own situation I have a file of life on the fridge containing all POA's and such but no private family stuff. This pack of documents goes to anyone with a need to know
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Hire an atty
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When a friend of mine died, she left no will. Her son went to probate and was appointed executor of her estate. We're from NJ
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Honeybadger, the only thing you can maybe do is sit down with your Dad again and explain that not knowing will make it harder on you when he needs help. That his MPOA should be filed with hospitals he may go to and all is doctors so that his rep can talk to doctors/nurses via phone. That with the Hippa laws if he has no rep of record, no one can make decisions for him if he can't. If he still won't give you the info, you'll just have to wait until something happens and file for gaurdianship. Can't remember if you said u talked to his lawyer. If not, can't see why he can't tell you that there is a POA and they are aware they are. Then, if a problem, contact the lawyer to contact the POA. In my opinion, no one needs to know what my will says but me. I would inform the person who is my executor that he is. I would give him the name of my lawyer and where the will is kept. The POA should have the paperwork.
So sorry you have to go thru this. Just one more thing to worry about. Good Luck.

PS, maybe you could take him to hi lawyer and he can explain the importance. Sometimes others can get thru better than children.
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Hi.
An Exacutor with out written and signed document(BY YOUR FATHER AND WITNESSES)PEFFERABLT NOTARISED, will prove you are the EXACUTOR,
Other wise you are ä king with out a kingdome". Do not think you are because if you were your father would present the document to you. I suspect he wants to avoid a confrontation with you NOW, as well as between you and your siblings if you have any. From personal experience this sibling confrontation will happen when it is time to execute the will. Ask your father to prevent this situation, and answer the few questions you have. Good Luck.
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Pamstegma, I had a MIL that would do that too. Asking what you want. She got upset when she offered me her bedroom suite and I said no thank you. Explained that I didn't care for French Prevencial. She was suppose to make a list of who he wanted to have what. When she died, people (not relatives) came out of the woodwork saying she had told them they could have this or that. Some things she had told more than one person, including her own kids, they could have.
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I was with my Mom when POA and MPOA was written up. I had to sign. I also hold the paperwork on both because I have to prove I was appointed. Before I can sign any legal documents I have to show proof and a copy iss usually taken. The local hospital and Moms doctors also have copies so they know to talk to me. I have a feelinghe has none of this that is why he is putting you off. If he does, then explain that if ur POA, you need the paperwork, or at least know where it is, in case of emergency. You can't do anything for him without them. Where I live, POA does not have to be recorded. Oh, if you are executor, you will need to know where the will is, without proof of one, can't do anything either. And knowing the lawyer may not help. Mine was disbard and left the state. Not sure what happens to their records when this happens.
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Excellent advice dilofthedevil..
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Since a POA must handle the affairs of someone while they are living once they have been declared unable to handle them on their own, the person appointing them must have request their services in this role, and so, have this legally documented. It is, in many states, a matter of public record and can often times be found in court documents. An executor on the other hand, is often times not made aware of this appointment until after someone has died. They are notified of the appointment and at that time have the option to decline the huge responsibility. A secondary choice to execute the will is called upon, if they decline, the executorship goes to the the courts. A living individual with full mental capacity may change their POA without notifying the individual first placed in that role. If you were told you were going to be executor of your father's will and you agreed verbally to do so, then sit back. You will either accept the challenge when the time comes, or have the option of declining the responsibility. If your father has become secretive and/or paranoid, and you believe dementia may be contributing to this problem, you could always try contacting his doctor, acting as a concerned child. The doctor may or may not speak with you on the subject. The doctor is not legally required to do so, unless you are POA. If you are POA, you will know you are because you would have to sign a POA and then have possession of it to act on it if and when the time came for it to be necessary to do so. You must do what feels right for you to do. Try to remember, the choices your father is making or has made are his. Although it may be tempting to want to know what is going on with his affairs, you really and truly have no right to know unless your father wants you to. One thing I have learned about cognitive decline - in the early stages, the paranoia and forgetfulness are not constant. There are periods of complete lucidity, when you should be able to talk with your father about these matters, in his best interest. Not yours. The advice previously given about presuming he will be leaving you nothing is probably the best advice you received from all of these good people replying to your question. You Must assume there is no inheritance for you. You must believe that your father has made choices with the assistance of his attorney that were the ones he wanted. His attorney is bound by law to create a legal document such as a will on behalf of someone making decisions in their right mind. You Must Believe and Accept that. Otherwise, you will lose your own mind in the insanity of this time of your life and your parents. What will be will be and what is, is. My advice? Forget the responsibility you may have been asked to step into as Executor until the time of death, see if you have been elected, then make a rational decision if you are willing and able to take on the task, which is a Huge on. Forget who is named POA. It is not you, or you would know it. Most importantly, live your life without concern for what may or may not be left you. Accept this, let it go. It wasn't yours to begin with. If your father decides to leave you with something, then good for you. Assume otherwise and you will sleep better at night.
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In my state MA I had to sign the POA... But not the executor..
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Honey, having been in a similar situation, and getting kicked in the teeth, my recommendation is to skip the trust building, skip the lovey-lovey visits, and let the old boy live his life and keep his secrets.
Plan to not inherit anything. Plan to decline the executorship and let the second take care of it. Move along, live your life free of worry about your parent. Avoid getting sucked into that black hole of continuous, never-ending drama and needs. It's pretty clear you are cut out of everything except the work. An earlier writer noted that dementia can go on for years and years; living in a dementia unit is about $5000 to $7000 per month now. Who knows how much in the future, so the estate will be eaten up in care expenses anyway. Leave all that mess to someone else. Let go and let God.
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Babalou makes a good suggestion : try trust building. I can't help getting the impression from your messages that you're pressing for information your father just does not want to share with you, for whatever reason. And that may be that he's already chosen someone else who doesn't push for information to handle his affairs.
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One more thing; unless your family has "generational wealth", if your dad has dementia, there will not be a red cent left. Nursing home care is currently costing my mom $15,000 a month. Thankfully, and contrary to what many people seem to believe (that elders who enter nursing facilities die quickly) my mom has had 2 good years of mostly good health, after surviving a stroke, a broken hip and several bouts of pneumonia. With continued good luck and health, she will spend the rest of her funds on another year and a half at this facility and then we'll apply for Medicaid. She's 92 now; her sister died just short of 97, so we know/hope that we're in this for the long haul.
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Honey, your dad is an adult and is supposedly still competent. If he's not sharing, don't press. If you get a call that he's collapsed and is in the hospital and your information is in his wallet, show up and do what you can. You will be able to give the doctor's information, but they won't be able to share any with you and you won't have any decision making authority. Clearly, this is how dad wants it right now.

Have you ever offered to accompany him to a visit with his PCP? You might try this so that you become acquainted with his medical provider. I would look at this as a trust building exercise. He may have lifelong trust issues (as my MIL did) and they are extremely hard to overcome if those issues are simply a built-in part of someone's personality. If this is the case, your father will interpret your every action as a ploy to get his money, so be aware of that.

I would focus on helping him get good healthcare and forget about the rest.
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You are primarily concerned about his POA and Health Directive. Makes sense.

I agree that it is mighty strange for your father not to tell you if you have either financial or medical POA or both. Mighty strange isn't against the law, but it is against his best interests. A logical conclusion is that you are not POA or Medical Proxy. We don't know that for sure, but it seems like a good bet, yes?

Let us say that Dad has a stroke or a bad fall and needs temporary help. In walzes a somewhat younger girlfriend who has been in the picture but behind the scenes for a long time. Oh, lets go all-out soap opera here. It is a younger boyfriend who shows up, POA documents in hand, and starts handling your Dad's finances. Hmm, no wonder Dad was a bit secretive, eh? But how would your life be different/better if you know that right this minute?

BTW, if Dad is smart, he has given a copy of his advance directive to his PCP and other medical facilities he uses. I notice they all ask if you have one. So they would know who to contact.

And what if Dad has left a huge chunk of the estate to this "friend" -- how would knowing that tomorrow make any difference?

I understand the concern about highjacking the inheritance. We've seen that scenario on this forum. But I don't see how knowing all the details about your dad's estate planning protects you from that. So you find out that you are both DPOA and Medical POA this week. And dad goes downhill, but not to the point of being declared incompetent, and a year from now he sets up new POAs giving authority to his caregiver or his high school sweetheart or his lawyer. He can do that at any time, as long as he is still competent. So what would you gain from knowing all the details today? How would that protect you from the highjacking scenario?

If that book tells you what to do and how it protects your interests, share! We love to learn from each other.

Your Dad is in his seventies. (So am I.) He has started repeating stories he has told before. (I do too. In fact among my peers we commonly start a story by saying "I don't remember who I've told this to, so stop me if you've heard this ...") He is showing some other non-specified signs of cognitive decline. But he set up his estate plans a year ago, before these signs started showing up, so presumably he was in his right mind when he made them. Right?

If, in fact, Dad is in the beginning stages of dementia, his care is going to be VERY expensive. And it could go on for 20 years or more. That will eat up huge amounts of the estate. So much so that worrying about what is left is simply not worthwhile.

The best kind of check-and-balance is to maintain a loving relationship with your father. Take an interest in his life. Visit often. See that he gets the best care available if he does,in fact, decline significantly.

And for heaven's sake, quit bugging him to tell you what he doesn't want to tell you. You are coming across (inaccurately I hope) as being overly interested in his money. That doesn't put any parent in a confiding mood.
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gardenArtist --

You can't always get someone's intent via e-mail, but in the cast of the comment about the lawyer that was made to take pretty literally. If you go to Google and type in "should you be secretive with your estate plans" every lawyer recommends against it on the first three pages of the search results and then they trail off to topics not related to this from what I saw. Does that mean every lawyer feels that way no, does that mean there are exceptions to that rule....yes.

But that still does leave the estate open to theft.

Some resources and much longer scenarios:
oprah/money/What-to-Do-When-a-Family-Member-Abuses-an-Inheritance
rcadamski.Articles/What-is-inheritance-hijacking-and-why-is-it-a-problem-to-us-all.shtml
stopinheritancetheft.blogspot/2008/01/my-brother-stole-my-inheritance-can-you.html
pennyborn/inheritancetheft.html
askthepsychatp/2008/08/04/stealing-family-inheritance/
hubpages/money/How-to-steal-your-inheritance

A typical scenario. You have a aging parent who for years had always told you they were leaving you a piece of the estate. Then their health and mental ability deteriorates. Now a uncle/aunt/niece/nephew or caregiver enters the picture. One of these players uses a number of techniques to convince the elder to give them the power of attorney, or uses past events to convince them that their children are out to get them etc.. Next thing you know a significant piece or all of the estate has been left to the caregiver. In extreme circumstances relatives are prevented from seeing the loved one. The person dies and this new person receives the entire estate. Can the rest of the family litigate. Sure, but if they don't have a lot of evidence such as copies over the years of other wills proving that there was undue influence while the person had diminished mental capability is nearly impossible. In which states did you work with the attorneys and is the recent experience?

But here is the kicker, it's easy for someone to highjack an inheritance if the person being stolen from never knows how much the person leaving it was supposed to be leaving. Where is the check and balance? If nobody but the lawyer and the person writing the will know how much was really intended how do you prevent the theft from some one who is experiencing true mental decline with a shift in personality (for example) but who doesn't fit the legal definition of not being able to change the documents. What kind of check and balance would you propose to prevent someone from coercing this person into doing something that they would never have done before they started to suffer from mental decline and/or diminished health?
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Badger, I'm going to challenge one of your assertions, that "every lawyer recommends against" secrecy of estate plans. I'm not trying to provoke an argument, but rather to point out that the term "every lawyer" assumes that you've examined or researched these "every lawyer" positions, which is physically impossible.

Some of the estate planning attorneys for which I've worked would advise that discretion might be appropriate in some circumstances, but also that family dynamics play a major role, and that openness can avoid suspicion, friction, plotting and disagreements.

It really depends on the attorney. And attorneys who need to boost revenue and get more clients can write books that inflame and influence the public. The attorneys I've worked for write legal manuals but not inflammatory books.

I think that knowing who has responsibility in the event of emergencies is a valid concern. I don't dispute your desire to know that.

I really wonder though how you believe that secrecy increases the likelihood that heirs will not "see" their inheritance and that "plays right into the hands of people looking to steal it."

There's no question that friction can arise between heirs. But theft is a legal term and involves criminal action, so I'm confused how "people" can steal someone else's inheritance just by virtue of the fact that the individual kept his/her intentions private. Could you give me some examples so I can understand your concern?

I will also state that in our person situation there are certain circumstances under which we have decided to withhold information from a potential heir because of the hostility and anger that would create now. There is no reason whatsoever for my father to share this information and be the verbal whipping post for a dissatisfied relative.

As to Pam's comment If you have a chance to read more of Pam's posts, you'll find that she (and Maggie Marshall) can whip off one-liners that really put people in their place. She's not necessarily lying; rather she's using a form of response that avoids a specific answer to a question that doesn't need to be answered, but is also humorously advising that the issue DOESN'T need to be addressed. At least I think that's what she's doing. I've done the same thing in some situations.

I don't believe that full disclosure is advisable under the circumstances any more than she does.
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Some people make things too dramatic. The fact he's keeping it this big mystery is so petty. But, I'd try to deal with it as best you can. No doubt when he had the documents prepared, his attorney advised him to provide a copy to the Executor and POA. Why is he not doing this. Odd. You may be right. Something's up. Maybe he suspects he's slipping and knows you might step in.

In some states, the Testator may deposit their Last Will and Testament with the Estate's office of the Clerk of Court for safekeeping. They keep them in a vault and it's there when you pass away. The Executor just needs to know this and show up with ID. The county he lives in may or may not confirm if its with them.

However, if that is not the case, you'll have to know where the original Will is stored. Let's hope it's not in a safe deposit box in a bank. You can't get into that without filing something with the court and getting permission.

Ask dad to keep originals of DPOA, HCPOA, LIving Will and Will in the home in a fireproof box or vault. Someone needs to know where it's located. His attorney will keep copies, but probably not much longer than app. 6 years.

What he's expecting you to do is a huge job. People have no idea how stressful and time consuming it is. Good luck.
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pamstegma -- I used to feel the same way until I read this book and spoke with other people about this. For YEARS my father, not I, would bring up the conversation about how much he is leaving me. Up until this year I NEVER initiated these conversations. Now he's getting older (70's), we have noticed what may be the beginning stages of memory issues and he is getting very secretive. In addition to that other family members have started to come out of the woodwork and we have watched people try to position themselves to see how much they can get.

If you Google "should you be secretive with your estate plans" every lawyer recommends against it. I am the only living offspring and up to a year ago without me ever having prompted him with these discussions he was giving the impression that I would need to step up if something happened. This is someone I spent almost every Christmas with, went on trips with (often paying my own way) etc.. For that matter I was the only family member that regularly visited either one of his houses for years.

From your profile it looks like you grew up in a different generation. The old "turn the other cheek" and "give the benefit of the doubt" no longer applies today. Now if I was asking to be the executor and insisting on control that would be a different situation. All that I care about is that he is of sound mind if the decisions are being made and knowing the truth. I live my life as a open book and have generally found that those who keep secrets do not do it for your benefit. More often than not the betrayal of discovering the deception along with what it uncovers is 10 times worse than if the person had just been honest to begin with.

If you re-read my initial question, you will see that I'm trying to figure out who to call if something happens. The way I look at it if you can't share that with your family then you really don't have much regard for them if you are doing that and are of sound mind. But beyond that, from everything I have read being secretive with your estate plans exponentially increases the chance that your intended heirs will never see it and plays right into the hands of people looking to steal it.

But the thing that really perplexes me is why you felt the need to lie to your MIL. Why not just say I don't need your money without the lie. Personally I have found it a lot easier to tell the truth so that I don't have to remember who I told what lie to and as a side benefit the person is more likely to trust me because I don't lie.

But hey, perhaps I have a different set of Values....
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The only way to prove that you are not interested in what you are getting is to stop asking about it. When my MIL hinted around about what she wanted to leave to whom, I just said "I don't need your money. My father left me a million dollars." That ended the conversation. She knew I never got anything from him and I was not going to be manipulated into asking for hers.
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pamstegma -- This book recommends the exact opposite because sadly there are vultures sitting in the wings.... Inheritance-Hijackers-Wants-Steal-Protect/dp/0981453449/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8 .

GardenArtist -- In all honesty I would rather have the truth now. To me that is much more important.

If he does everything in sound mind then he can and should do whatever he wants to do. If he's not and his wishes were different, well that is a different story. If he is of sound mind I also don't want the inheritance to be held over my head. I'm not for sale, though there are a lot of my family members are.
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First the POA is only active while the person is alive.
Second, after death the Will is in force and the Executor is in charge.
Third, as an old person myself, I don't want my family bugging me for all the darn details, because it opens up a can of worms. So stop asking him. Show a little respect.
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Cwillie's points are well written. In my experience, anyone accepting the role of proxy under a Living Trust, DPOA or Advanced Directive is required to sign to accept those responsibilities. I don't recall as to an executorship w/o doing some checking.

Since your father is being reluctant to discuss the appointments he's made, Ii suspect he chose someone other than you and doesn't want to embarrass you.

If no one in the family is aware of the selected person, it may even be his attorney, or someone else outside the family.

Some states apparently require some POAs (Durable, specifically) to be recorded. You might check the county in which your father lives to find out if any DPOA was recorded.
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I think that most attorneys encourage their clients to ask permission and inform the persons they name as POA, after all, there is little point naming someone who is unable or unwilling. If you can find the lawyer I can't see why it would be breaking confidentiality for them to confirm/deny that you have been named POA.
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With the Trust. My understanding is that for the state the trust is set up in you only need to be notified when the person who set it up (not the lawyer) dies. Currently I have no information about who the lawyer is.

As far as his mental capacity, we have not seen anything up to this point to indicate that his financial affairs or legal matters are not being kept in order. We have however started to see some things that would indicate cognitive decline...things like telling the same story day after day not remembering he told you the story the previous day. Forgetting about telling you about significant events a few months prior even though you talked to him multiple times before etc..

The problem is that we know what we have seen, but we have no family support on this. One family member is too far in denial, another after as much of the estate as they can get their hands on and are denying it while trying to take advantage of the situation etc.. The rest do not talk with him enough to be able to notice anything at this point.

The challenge is that we are seeing things that might be cognitive decline, but he refuses to go to the doctor for anything, is not compliant with doctors orders and we are not professionals. There appear to be some signs, and some of the behavior seems more pronounced than in times past but it's not pronounced enough where I can say with 100% certainty that this is mental decline.
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Not sure on all counts. He has always been fairly secretive, but his current behavior seems to have gone to new levels. With that being said there are a lot of things at play. Also, can the attorney really provide us with much? My understanding is that they can't right now because he is their client.
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Is there anyone else inside or outside your family who might be able to talk to your dad and at least find out who his attorney is? Has your dad always been this paranoid? If not, that's one sign of cognitive decline and dementia and pretty common.
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