How can I prove fiduciary responsibility? -

How can I prove fiduciary responsibility?


I brought my parents to live with me 5 years ago. Dad died last year. Now that I am probating his will my lawyer has given me concerns over my fiduciary duty? I gave up my career and job to do this full time with the understanding that my immediate family would not have to suffer. I had to do this with my parents money. Now I have to worry about being accused of fiduciary irresponsibility? Where do you draw the line? How do you know when you have crossed it? I have always conducted my business as if asking myself, "what would my parents do or think?" Mother has Alzheimer's and I built a house for them on my own property but I put it in my name so I would not have to deal with complications later on. Did I do the right thing? Mother (87) may have another couple of years left and then I will need to retool myself and get back in the job market. With a poor economy and my own age (61) not helping the last thing I need is to be worried about being sued by some rogue family relative and believe me, I have dysfunctional family members. I cant live my life in fear or misplaced guilt and rehearse through constant introspection every decision that I have made over the last 5 years! I know this has to be a somewhat typical situation that others have gone through. What really gets to me is potentially being punished for doing the right thing. My parents have since I can remember told me under no circumstances were they to be put in a rest home and I honored that at a great personal sacrifice on my part and to my wife and children. Of course they are financially in a 'no man's ' land not having enough money for assisted living and too much for medicaid. In fact, I saved them from bankruptcy by stepping in and taking away my dad's ability to write checks to rip off artists that prey on the elderly. He was adding zeros behind his checks where $25 turned into $250! It doesn't take long to loose your life savings under those circumstances. You wouldn't believe some of the things I have had to do or endured to assure that they had the best possible life I could give them. Any advice at all to allay my fears for the future would be appreciated. It is so frustrating that more and more I see the good guys are the ones who suffer while the evil ones get away with murder.

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Pilgramlight You are Innocent until proven Guilty! Have you ever heard of the burden of proof. Look up the definition. Those who are accusing you of doing something unlawful need to prove it in court. If you were P.O.A. and did what you needed to do to take care of the Principal, in a trustworthy, in the sole benefit of the principal. If your family members are fighting you because you put the house in your name and you did so to protect/care for the Principal and yourself... in the need to care for the principal that is what your fiduciary duty "IS", as long as it is stated on the papers that you can make such a transaction/transfer. Let them try to drag you through the mud and spend money taking you to court. They need to prove you did things in your benefit. As I see it any person with this duty and all that it requires to care for an elderly parent shows up in court to fight the other people who vanished, when they should have helped, but then they wake up only after all the hard work is done, and they just want something out of it, then they have much more to prove than you. If anyone was worried about what you were doing the whole time you gave your time and energy and life to do, why didn't they help when it was needed?
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The burden is on THEM to prove irresposibility. You did the right thing, especially by honoring your parents' wishes and keeping them out of a nursing home. Personally (and I deal with these threats all of the time), I would not concern myself until the issue actually comes up. Continue to do what you always did, look out for the best interests of your mom. Everything else will fall into place.
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Dysfunctinal family members, you bet. However, I am on the other side. I have been caring for my mom and husband of six years for a year and a half. I have gone out of my way to avoid at all possible costs, writing a check to myself. I do not have Power of Attorney, and am not the one with fiduciary responsibility, one of my siblings does. The POA states that nobody is to incur expense on my mom's behalf and anybody providing a service to her should be paid. I have received nothing from her except some small reimbusements. There is a trust account that required by law my sibling is to prepare yearly statements of status. In over ten years, not one has been prepared. This is irresponsibility. I am doing the right thing by my mom, she always said she did not want to go into a nursing home and if I were not here that is where she would have to be.
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Pilgrim - I've been executrix twice for 'aunts" and my guess on this is that the attorney is being pressed by other family on this. Did he have a prior family? or did he inheirit land or whatever from another family member in the past? Business deals gone askew in the past? Is your mom the principal beneficiary in all this and what is her frame of mind and more importantly, attitude towards you?

imho you need to get your own attorney and if you haven't opened probate, please please wait to do it. Most states have a long window from death to having to open probate - why the rush? For my first aunt, I was named and it was a total surprise, we were't especially close and it only made sense as I got into her estate (over 4 years too). For most outsiders, my aunt appeared well-off and most assumed there was oodles of $$ and by god they were entitled to some of it. She had one nephew who assumed he would be executor and when it didn't happen made all kinds of noise about billing her estate for all the care he had given her and that she had promised him yadayada and the fact that she had given him $$ in the past showed an existing promise...why didn't we use the law firm who he used to do probate, etc. on & on. And he wasn't the only one.

What the attorney I hired did was do a proactive on the main noisy one. Senor Noisy actually sent me a letter about all the $ he was owed, my suitability, all the work he had done...... What we did was send a registered letter to him, letting him know that he would be getting a 1099 for all the funds she had "paid" him for that tax year and also we would be revising last years tax filings for that too and were evaluating all checks as to whether taxable services were performed to anyone she paid. I'll never forget what my attorney advised proactive and let whomever has issues with the estate be aware that you were chosen and NOT them, you are driving the bus, period!

You need an attorney who is in your corner if it gets ugly and yours doesn't sound like he is. I did mine as a % of the estate and in the long run was a better deal than by the hour, although I did do alot of the courthouse runs and sitting in probate court rather than pay his paralegals. Still friend with him too! Good luck.
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