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Star, aprove, anyone else with legal knowledge?

Total post and run - but can I bend your ear?  My aunt is in a really bizarre situation.

So she lives in southern California and ever since she moved onto her street like, 12 years ago - she's had this neighbor she's always gotten along with.  He's an elderly man named Ernie and he's from North Dakota - she's always connected with him because that's where me and my family all live.

She's brought stuff back from him when she comes home from visiting us, they talk about North Dakota stuff together, he's gotten to know her son really well - etc, etc.  An old friend.  He's 89.

Anyway his health is deteriorating a little and his memory is going.  He has this woman, "Brenda" who's a family friend that they've known for years, and she is his "proprietor," or whatever - basically she has legal power to make all decisions in his best interest.  Well about a month ago my aunt was on a walk with her son and they walked by Ernie's house, and he was in the front yard.  They stopped to talk and she mentioned she was going to the store, and he said he wanted to go with so he could buy some fruit. 

Just then he gets a phone call from Brenda.  She asks what he's doing and he says he's going to the store with my aunt and my cousin to get fruit.  She tells him over the phone that he's not allowed to go.  He gets irritated and hangs up the phone, and they go - My aunt was nervous, but she's known him for years, it was an innocent trip to the store, they were back in a half hour.

Today she got a legal letter in the mail, basically telling her that if she makes any further contact with Ernie, she'll be slapped with a restraining order.  She isn't allowed to contact any of Ernie's family, nor is anyone to contact Ernie or his family on her behalf.  Otherwise - restraining order.  The letter went on to accuse my aunt of plotting to move in with Ernie, with her family, and take advantage of him. 

She's like... okay, wtf?  What if he shows up at my house?  Because he does!

Then she says that this Brenda person actually lived with Ernie and his family, rent free, for like, 20 years.  Brenda has actually called my aunt on occasions when Ernie went missing during a dementia-related stroll through the neighborhood and asked her to go look for him. 

To me - it doesn't sound like Brenda really thinks my aunt wants to take advantage of Ernie.  She trusts her enough to go looking for him.  But all of a sudden, she doesn't want them hanging out, like, at all?  It just sounds fishy.  To me it sounds like this Brenda wants to keep people away from Ernie so she can take advantage of him.

Is there anything my aunt can do?  She's an annoying person, but she's harmless.  This legal letter and restraining order threat makes no sense.  I told her to contact one of our family friends, who's a lawyer, to sort out this mess.  What else can she do?

Does this sound weird to anyone else?

...sorry so long :(
panther

Re: Star, aprove, anyone else with legal knowledge?

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    That's just bizarre! I have no advice to give but my goodness, poor aunt!
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    I don't have any legal advice but this totally sucks for your aunt. I think you are right about Brenda. She's probably worried your aunt is going to figure out what she is doing and say something to Ernie or his family about her.
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    Whoa! I have no idea, but that Brenda woman sounds BSC.. Poor Ernie.
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    Random thought, but is there a way she can prove this was a real legal letter and not something Brenda put together? When I was in college my then bf tried to get a restraining order on someone who assaulted him and was told they needed more evidence (because 9 staples in the skull apparently weren't evidence of assault) before he could get a restraining order.
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    K back to check - yeah Katie, she called the legal office the letter came from and it's legit.  SO WEIRD.

    Ugh I wish I could stay - I have to hit the road though.  I will try and check back later tonight or tomorrow though.

    Seriously aprove?  star!?  BAT SIGNAL!
    panther
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    It sounds weird to me too.  But there are funny things that happen when a person is conserved.  I work with the elderly, so I can tell you from a geriatric advocate standpoint the following:

    If your aunt is worried about Ernie, she can call APS (the Adult Protective Services) -- you can google the local number.  They won't do much without specific examples of how Brenda might be abusing the situation, so ask your aunt to write down specific examples of how Brenda is acting unreasonably.  For example: if Ernie is so demented, why is he allowed to wander around alone?   He needs full time supervision. 

    Something people don't always know: Ernie might have a conservator or durable power of attorney, but if he has judgment capacity, he still makes his own decisions.  The conservator or DPOA can only step in if Ernie is incapacitated.  So Brenda might be overstepping.  Then again, why is he getting lost?  That sounds like dementia to me.  In which case, Brenda might be negligant if she's not managing Ernie's groceries and wandering behavior.

    But if there really is a restraining order against your aunt, I don't know what to do.
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    Ditto Mica - your aunt should definitely call APS and report her concerns.  I'm curious what kind of power this woman has, whether there's a conservatorship in place, or just power of attorney.

    On the restraining order, there's no way there *is* a (valid) restraining order if your aunt wasn't served with a request to enter one, and even then they're granted on a temporary basis and you have to have a trial/hearing before they're entered on a permanent basis (which really means a set number of years, not permanent as in forever). 

    I'm a family law attorney in CA and happy to help, if you have more questions, or if I can be of assistance.  (Not a pitch for a job or anything; I work for the government and do volunteer legal work.)

    image
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    I have to admit I have no idea.  I'm only a first year.  I'd listen to Star she's a 3L.  Also Lenore is an attorney so you might want to batsignal her! 

    This is such a strange situation.
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    Can your aunt go and see a lawyer about this? I'm not saying go and hire one, but even just to get some advice.

    Is this like a PoA situation? I've never seen a PoA go like this. I've worked part time in a law firm for a few years, but I'm also in Ontario, Canada so the laws are different here. I'm not sure how different. But it isn't that easy to get an RO here, there needs to be proof of harrassment. For example, when I looked into getting an RO at one point I was told to start by ignoring any contact from the person. Then when they kept that up for a couple months, I sent a registered letter (and kept a copy for myself) that explicitly asked for no contact, and if it was continued I'd look into an RO. Contact stopped after that, and I didn't have to look into it further. But the reason I had to do all that (registered mail, copy of the letter, avoiding the person, etc.) was so that if I did have to go to court about it, I'd have some evidence that I really didn't want any contact.
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