My aunt has no blood kin except me, everyone has died off. But my aunts brother's wife (brother is dead)says she gets to say where the money and property goes irrigardless of me the next kin and my aunt has some money in the bank. Are you a sister in law for life and next of kin automatically forever or does that end when your husband who was my aunts blood kin brother died?This lady got a lawyer to give her some paper that says she has attorney power to do what she wants but maybe i need to be a guardian to my aunt. I was reading up on guardianship and it sounds like it cost a lot of money. what do you do if you cant afford it? My aunt has has a stroke and cant function to well.
A sister-in-law is not an heir under Florida law and DPOA will be suspended if there is a guardianship. File a report with Adult Protective Services if you believe your aunt needs a guardian. You may not get to be the guardian (a professional may be appointed) but the DPOA will be suspended. You should contact Legal Aid also.
The Courts have the right to appoint a guardian who will act in your aunt's best interests. It sounds as if your aunt's sister-in-law may have had your aunt sign a Power of Attorney (POA) so she can act on your aunt's behalf. Usually, these POAs are only effective in the event the person becomes incompetent and unable to make financial decisions. Even if your aunt had a stroke, if she is still "of sound mind", then the POA may not be valid yet.
There is also a health care POA that gives someone else the right to make health care decisions. This is a very difficult area to deal with unless you have a lawyer. AVVO has a list of many lawyers in your area who are familiar with these issues.
A durable power of attorney (if that is what your aunt signed) gives power to the "agent" (the sister-in-law) during your aunt's life. Contrary to popular belief, a power of attorney does not give the agent the right to do whatever they want but they must act in the interest of the "principal" (your aunt). When your aunt passes, the power of attorney will have no effect and your aunt's assets will pass according to the intestacy statute if she has no will or trust. As a blood relative, you would be an heir. If you believe that the sister-in-law is not acting in your aunt's best interest, you could initiate a guardianship proceeding. You may qualify for legal aid so look for a legal aid organization in your area or contact a local attorney who could steer you in the right direction. If you feel that your aunt is being financially exploited, an elder law attorney can help you there as well.
As other have suggested, your aunt may have signed a durable power of attorney. If that document is "immediately effective" it the agent (her brother's widow) could act immediately. If instead it is a "springing power" there would be a requirement, such as your aunt's incapacity, that would have to be proven up (usually by a doctor's certificate) before the agent could act. However, we are are supposing right now. It would be far the best thing to get specific legal advice from an elder law attorney. You can find an elder law attorney here on AVVO or by going to the web site for the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys at www.naela.org. In the meantime, if you believe your aunt is being taken advantage of or harmed you should call the adult protective services asap. Good luck with this.
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