Skip to main content
Matthew Karr

Matthew Karr’s Answers

12 total

  • Power of attorney for mentally disabled sister (adult)

    My parents both passed away and I have a mentally handicapped sister age 51. In the will it states myself as trustee for my sister. How do i get power of attorney over all her affairs? financial, medical, from this will. she is unable to sign any ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    I’m sorry for your loss; you must have a lot on your plate right now. Based on your description of the situation, it seems that you were named a trustee over certain property left in trust for your sister’s maintenance. This is different from the powers needed to manage her personal affairs, and would only give you authority over the assets in the trust. What you would need in order to manage your sister’s health and financial affairs is a power of attorney. Typically, the easiest way to get a power of attorney is to have the subject of the power sign the necessary documents with an attorney present. They can only do this if they understand what they are signing and why, which appears to not be an option for you. In that case, you must have your sister’s handicap documented by a physician or psychiatrist. It is usually best to get a second opinion. These doctors’ reports must demonstrate that your sister’s handicap is severely affecting her ability to manage her physical and financial well being. You will then have to take the case to state court to be evaluated by a judge. If the judge decides that your sister is indeed incapable of maintaining her own interests they may then grant you the power of attorney. I would suggest you contact an estate planning attorney in your area for help representing you in court. Best of luck.

    See question 
  • Is inheritance lost?

    While we were married, my then-spouse and I were trustees for an inheritance ($20K) given to our daughter, a minor. When we divorced, he took half of it ($10k), saying he wanted to "keep it safe" until she became an adult. She's now 24 yrs old and...

    Matthew’s Answer

    I’m sorry to hear about your difficult situation. If your daughter’s inheritance was placed in a valid trust, then there are specific rules governing the actions of the trustees. While laws directing the formation of trusts and the powers typically available to trustees are often state specific, a trustee is bound by the trust document itself and the terms set forth in it. A trustee has a general duty to protect trust assets for the trust beneficiaries, in this case your daughter. A trust creates a fiduciary relationship between the trustee and beneficiaries, so that the trustee is required by law to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries with regard to the trust assets. The law also imposes on trustees a duty to account for any benefits the trustee may have gained directly or indirectly from a trust. Typically, a trustee cannot personally benefit from a trust unless expressly permitted by the terms of the trust document.

    In sum, if your case involves a valid trust document then your ex-husband, as trustee, would have to have managed the trust assets, in accord with the terms of the trust document, for the benefit of your daughter. If he has failed to do so he may be found personally liable for any loss of trust funds. You should review the terms of the trust in question with an estate planning attorney to determine exactly what powers the trustees had in your case and whether these powers were abused.

    See question