“The house is dirty and smelly”: my mother, 89, is an accumulator. My 60-year-old brother siphons money from him. How do I protect my inheritance?
My mom has more wealth than she can imagine, but she still thinks she doesn’t have enough money to live on. She is 89 years old and is an accumulator. I don’t visit him often because it reminds me of how I grew up. The house is dirty and smelly with bugs and pests. We could have spent and invested the money to live a prosperous life.
She and I don’t have a relationship; his relationship is with his money. She doesn’t even know where her money is, but she thinks it’s safe. When my dad passed away, their trust said his assets were to be split between mom, my brother, and me, but they just transferred all of their assets to his account. Some accounts still have Dad’s name on it.
She keeps her money in money market accounts. Our family assets consist of money market accounts and real estate in the United States and abroad. The rents abroad are deposited in a bank account abroad, which my brother has access to. Bank accounts in the United States are a mess.
My brother never worked a day in his life
My brother is 60 years old and has never worked a day in his life, and still lives at home. The apple does not fall too far from the tree; he is also a hoarder and lives in a dirty and messy house just like mom. He siphoned money from mom and put it in his account. This is a classic case of elder abuse by a close family member.
I have heard many of these cases, but I have never seen anyone being prosecuted. Mom has already contacted adult protection services; the social worker said she could spend money to improve her life, but she did not. He knows I know what he’s doing and he does everything to avoid me.
“Mom knew my brother had siphoned off her money and even gave me a financial power of attorney.”
Mom knew my brother had siphoned money from her and even gave me a financial power of attorney, but she wouldn’t coordinate with the bank so I could look at the statements to see what was going on. Mom does not trust anyone and accumulating information, she thinks she is in control of her money.
It was an ordeal to get him to give me his medical information so that I could make his appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. Our family of three don’t get along: mom just wants to raise her money, my brother just wants to siphon the family money, and I just want to run the family affairs and make everyone live and enjoy his life. I am not receiving any cooperation. If we do nothing, a time bomb will explode.
I consulted a lawyer; her advice was to wait until mom was incapacitated and then apply for guardianship. At this point, he said, then we can shine a light on everything.
If I file now, mom and my brother can team up to fight with me; they can cut me off from the family inheritance. Mom is not very clear-headed now, and is unable to make the trip to the courthouse.
I left home at 17 and never returned
I’m so sorry for her that she lives like this, but I did all I could. With her not trusting anyone and my brother accumulating information, he still lives at home. Mom could become disabled and my brother could take her money and refuse to take care of her. My brother wants to control family assets.
I left home at 17, never returned, went to school, got two degrees, made a career, and retired. I cannot let my brother waste my family fortune, to which I am entitled. I’ve let them waste so much already, and I need a plan to deal with it when mum passes away, which is only a matter of time. I want to settle it so that I can travel and sort out my affairs.
What should I do to protect myself and not let my brother take back the family fortune, and how do I get back what he stole? I know I couldn’t make him justify his strengths. He could ask mom to sign documents to transfer assets to him. All of this will come out when the time comes.
What can I do? We are no longer a family. We do not get along. Everyone lives in their dream world. I helped them financially and I did things for them as a family. They are not at all grateful and have fought me every step of the way because they just want to line their pockets.
We will not be able to solve it; lawsuits will come up to force everyone’s hand. We can’t work together for everyone’s sake, and I have to spend my time writing this!
And I have to spend my time answering them!
Your mother’s primary relationship is with her money, your brother’s relationship is with his money, and your relationship is with his money. It is an unfortunate situation from all three angles. Hoarding is a mental health disorder. But it’s a toxic situation where everyone wants something, including you.
It is only by facing your own participation in this family dynamic that you will find some peace. I understand that you don’t want your brother to steal money from your mother, and you don’t want your mother to live in poverty, and you tried to help your mother. But your motivation is to make sure that your legacy is intact.
First of all, your mother must honor the terms of your family’s trust, as stipulated by your father. Your father’s executor should be able to provide an update on the current status of your father’s estate and trust. He or she can reassure you if your mother has broken the rules of this trust.
“It’s a toxic situation where everyone wants something.”
I disagree with part of your letter. I do not believe that anyone is “entitled” to an inheritance. A person is free to do with his money what he wants. She could leave it to your brother, or animal rescue. It is his prerogative. You are retired and independent, yet part of you still lives in this house.
She doesn’t owe you money for a terrible childhood. Maybe she did her best, and maybe it wasn’t good enough, but no amount of money will make your childhood or make you happy now. Unless you examine your own motives, you too will be a prisoner in your mother’s house. You alone hold the key.
Your lawyer probably knows that your mom can’t give up control because she doesn’t trust anyone but herself. Yes, you want to protect her from your brother, but you also come to this situation out of personal interest in your inheritance, fear and not a small amount of anger.
“She doesn’t owe you money for a terrible childhood.
I also disagree with your lawyer. You have one thing in your favor. You have a power of attorney, and in many states that power of attorney is presumed enduring, meaning it continues if your mother becomes mentally and / or physically incapable and unable to make decisions on her own.
If you sincerely believe your mom is being financially abused by seniors, do something about it. If you are afraid to step in because of the risk to your own inheritance, you are part of the problem. You cannot condemn your brother for using and then do the same for fear of losing the grand prize.
A call to adult protection services in your state or even a visit to your mother’s home by a social worker may be enough to sound the alarm bells. Elder abuse is generally underreported, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association, and family members usually have a way to find their parent’s weak spot.
The best solution may be an independent power of attorney, someone who has no vested interest in your mother’s inheritance, who can help clean her house and make long-term health decisions if and / or when she becomes disabled. . More important than the inheritance, she will need the money for it.
It’s hard to read a letter where everyone seems to be dealing with number 1. You can bring love and compassion to a situation, even if you haven’t received it and / or don’t have any. waiting to get it back. You ask what you can do to protect yourself. I have another question for you. What can you do to protect your mother?
You can be the person your mother didn’t teach you to be.
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