WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

HouseMabel Shoup (not her real name) is 89.  Years ago, she appointed her son to help with her finances under a power of attorney.  Now she has Alzheimer’s disease, is very confused, and lives in the locked area of an assisted-living home.  Her son came to the Elder Law Clinic for advice.  He needs to sell her house in order to help pay for her safer living situation at the assisted living home.  But she often asks about her old home, and she enjoys outings to go see it, reconnect with the garden, and wave at neighbors.

Several students had clients like Mrs. Shoup’s son.  The adult children want to do “what is right.”  They don’t want to tell their parent about selling the house, but they also don’t want to lie.  Sorting out what the legal power is versus what’s “right” is challenging.  If the son is acting in the mother’s best interests, and there are no better options, his action in selling the house is legal.  On the other hand, do you think it’s the “right thing?”

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