What are my rights to my father’s house, which he promised to me, if I’m his POA and he suffers from dementia but wants to sell the house?

My father wanted me to move into his home and take care of him after my mothers passing, even though I tried to get him to move into my home. So I sold my home and moved in with him with the verbal agreement that his house would be mine, which I have several witnesses too. A year later, he has moved in with the caretaker that I had hired to bath him twice a week. It was just supposed to be for a month to give me a break, as I am disabled myself. Now my dad has called me and wants to sell the house out from under me. I truely believe the caretaker is undermining mine and my dad’s relationship. I have a durable POA and want to know my options on the home. Also, dad is 76 and suffering from some dimentia. This is mostly undiagnosed.

Asked on July 18, 2015 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) An oral or verbal agreement to transfer real estate is not enforceable; those agreements must be in writing. You may be able to sue him or his estate (if/when he passes) to recover monetary compensation for caring for him, but you can't get the house based on an oral promise.

2) The person who created the POA has the power to keep acting in regards to his own property, so if your father is mentally competent, he can do this.

3) If you believe that your father is not mentally competent (and is being unduly influenced), you may need to seek to have him declared incompetent and have a guardian appointed for him. To do this, though, you'll need strong medical evidence of incompetence, which you do not seem to have ("mostly undiagnosed"). Speak with an elder law attorney about the situation and your options.

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