When I asked my friend Jane about her Dad’s recent triple bypass, I never expected the torrent of concern I unleashed. Her Dad’s operation was the least of her worries. It turned out that Margo was her ‘top concern.’
Since Jane’s parents divorced years ago, her Dad had become very lonely. So, he became involved with Margo, 15 years his junior, who now lives in Jane’s Dad’s home. While Margo provides her Dad the companionship he desires, she contributes little or nothing to the household. Dad pays for food, lodging, and other expenses.
I also learned that while her Dad’s home is titled to Jane, Jane had no idea whether her Dad had changed his will or put Margo on his bank accounts. I asked Jane whether she had a financial Power of Attorney (POA) for her Dad. Negative. That meant that, among other things, Dad could put Margo on his checking account and make her a joint owner of any of his other assets without Jane being aware of it. (He can do it, but at least Jane can find out what’s up.)
Jane’s other worry is whether Margo will move out when her Dad dies. Since Margo has every intention of living with Jane’s Dad while he is alive, she might object to moving out when he dies. This could force Jane to take legal action, something that could last months.
Jane realizes she’s in a difficult spot. She doesn’t want to upset her Dad’s relationship with Margo, but she doesn’t want Margo to take undue advantage of her Dad.
I suggested to Jane that this may be the time for a tough conversation with her Dad. Not about her Dad splitting up with Margo. According to Jane they seem truly devoted to each other. But to make sure that Margo doesn’t try to take control of her Dad’s assets nor remain in the house after he dies. This would also include discussing Jane’s having Power of Attorney her Dad’s financial affairs and having a copy of his will.
Jane agreed, and the last I heard she and her Dad were going to execute a POA. While this may not give Jane the control she would like to have, it at least allows her to be aware of any changes in his financial affairs.