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Reply with quote  #1 
My elderly Mother lives with my Sister about 50 miles from me.  My Mother is lucid most of the time, but she's also losing her memory, and she's disabled and housebound.  She has no friends here and is by herself much of the time.  I drive down most weeks to take her to lunch and shopping, and she comes to stay with me every few weeks for the weekend.

THE ISSUE:   My Sister has managed to manipulate her out of her entire net worth to build a huge home that she cannot afford to finish.  In addition, my Mother is charged RENT, ($600/mo.) no less, for her room.  She also pays for much of the utilities and food, and now she forking over large sums to finish the house, as she just received an inheritance from her own sister who recently passed away.

I'm disturbed by this situation, I'm sure you can understand.  My Sister is a BIG SPENDER, is always broke, always in debt, and has a habit of "using" others to get what she wants. 

My Mother refuses to even look at what she is doing to herself financially in this situation ... in addition to aiding and abetting a chronic reprobate of a user/spender.  She's extremely defensive about subsidizing my Sister.  She's become easily manipulated to the very daughter who has often abused her verbally.  I would have her live with me if my home could accommodate her disabilities.

I'm at a loss here.  I'm angry and frustrated. 

What would you do in this situation?  Any suggestions are MUCH appreciated!

Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Jason,

I would either contact the police in your mother's town or your local district attorney's office.  It could absolutely mean that your sister could face criminal charges - but, preying on the elderly is criminal.  Many states go after these predators aggressively (although sadly, some don't).

Good luck - you'd be doing the right thing, but you'll get a lot of flak for it - from your sister, other members of your family, and even (probably) your mother.


Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for replying, Sue. 

My Mother is lucid most of the time and knows what she's doing.  She's simply being manipulated by a professional, and allowing it.  I don't see many options except to just give up and let her be manipulated.

The problem I see in the future though, is that my Mother could decline drastically.  She barely walks now.  My Sister would want to put her in AL or a NH, and want all of us to pay for it ... when Mother could have paid for it on her own.  My Sister would NEVER tolerate being a 24/7 caretaker for a severely declining parent.  And if my Mother didn't have any money, you can BET my Sister would have avoided taking her in.  She would have preferred that I had done it originally, but she couldn't blatantly expect that when I just spent the last few years taking 24/7 care of our Father in lonely, podunk desert town where I had to move to and stay until I could finally sell his home.

The thing that angers me the most at the moment, is that they both think I'm the jerk for even questioning my Sister's motivations.  I'M the BAD Guy.  Mind you, I'm a diligent saver, I'm debt free, and have good savings.  I don't need her money.  I just resent my Sister manipulating my Mother out of all of hers.

Thanks for your support.  I'm just ticked right now.  I'll get over it tomorrow.

Reply with quote  #4 
Hi Jason -- Welcome to the board.
A couple of things...
It's really not unreasonable for your sister to "charge" your mother to "rent" a room.  If your mother's memory is starting to fail, your sister probably is doing things to assist your mother.
If your mother goes into a NH or AL and has funds, that should and will be used to pay for it.  If she does not have funds medicaid will pay.  Unfortunately, the less money she has the fewer choices she'll have in a facility.
But, if she goes into a NH or AL there is a FIVE YEAR look back rule.  They will see WHERE her $$ has gone in the last five years.  If it has gone to your sister to help pay for building the house, they may very well demand that money back.  (i.e., if she gave thousands of dollars up front to build the house).  But for paying "reasonable" rent, they probably won't.  Bear in mind that I'm not an attorney, so your first stop would best be at the office of an attorney who specializes in elder abuse/fraud.
Finally, it MIGHT be the best thing to go to the authorities but I really advise that you make sure you have good standing to do this.  Otherwise, you will find yourself in a very hostile environment.  (Well, you'll find yourself in a very hostile environment ANYWAY, but make sure that you have the legal reasons to be doing this).
Best of luck to you in this.
Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Jason and welcome ..

All I wanted to add is if my fathers son did what your sister is doing (and he has in many ways)  my dad would defend the jerk to the end of time...

My dad could be on the street living in a cardboard box,  and his son did no wrong...

I feel as you do,  but sometimes we are just beating a dead horse for nuntin'...

Just try and wait,  (I know it's hard)  I wait and wait,  but SOMETHING has gotta come back and bite them on the a** ,  maybe they can get away with it with our parents but there is somekind of karma out there (it just sure gets hard of waiting for something)

Reply with quote  #6 
I can only support recommendations already made - see an elder attorney.  And document document document everything you can about where your moms money is going.

IMO, While it may be legallly "reasonable" to charge your mom "rent" it is morally reprehensible to do so when she has paid for expensive remodelling to the house.

You may be stuck in a holding pattern with this issue until (and if) your mom needs nursing home care.

Until then, you simply have to watch your sister gobble up the money for your mothers care and any inheritance planned for you.   (Things like this make my blood boil.) 

You obviously love and care for your mother, but she is a willing participant.  It does not appear that there is much you can do yet.  She probably will not understand nor agree until the time comes that she needs money for her care and your sister will not care for her.  And even then, she may simply turn to you and expect you to pay because poor sister can't.
Life's a b*tch.

You are a good son.  Hang in there.
Reply with quote  #7 
Welcome to the board   It is a good place to vent and get things out
I would be careful ablout calling authorities because things can get ugly so proceed carefully on that and may make things worse
Many of  us can relate to the selfish sibling syndrome.   My mother always defended my brother and would send him money to bail him out of his irresponsible spending.   He visited her one time before she died.  Did not go to her funeral  and  now that the home is for sale is always asking if its been sold when he calls, and did she have any other money in accounts etc.
Some one told me  that the parent will defend the selfish sibling because the parent has difficulty accepting the truth.  
Hang in there.  Wish I had more advice for you but just know that we care
Reply with quote  #8 
Jason, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if your mom is defending your sister's actions now, she will defend them if you call the authorities. Your mom would have to be proven incompetent and then it must be proven that your sister is taking advantage of her in her condition.Listen, I went through a VERY similar thing w/my grandmother. She didn't want to live alone. I told her she could live with me, but I had no room and if she wanted pay for an addition, I would provide her care for the rest of her days NO CHARGE for ANYTHING to her. Afterall, I would be getting the benefit of an extra room and an increased value of my home when she passed and I acknowleged that to my grandmother and it was understood that THAT would be my inheritance which I graciously thanked her for. Besides, I LOVED my grandmother and wanted to avoid her having to go to a NH if at sll possible. Well, it turned into a nightmare with my own grandmother accusing me of taking advantage of her when in fact I even remortgaged my home to add $47,000.00 to the project. So, it was all absurd. If I was going to take advantage of her, I sure wouldn't have done THAT, huh? At any rate, she ended up ruining ME financiallly and not moving in and running to my golden sister, because I was not entertaining her every second and had to work!It is a l-o-n-g story and I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say, she did things like poison my dog, snoop through my personal items, upset my whole household and life and numerous other messed up things because she is a bonified NARCISSIST! I'm STILL suffering for it. Her? She's still running around telling people I hurt her and has rallied the sister too(which is funny, because it is my sister who is the goldigger in our family), but I'm a pretty smart girl and I have reciepts for EVERYTHING right down to the last nail, so I am not worried and she is FAR from penniless, but I am not. LOL!
The point here? I hope your sister is doing the same,(saving reciepts) because if your mom DOES go to a AL or NH, your sister better be able to JUSTIFY what she did with your mom's money or she could very well be held accountable and have to return monies or you could sue her and/or if your mom is so broke that the state has to pay for her care, they will scrutinize her finances and it will come back to your sister. Hold the course, my dear and just keep being the wonderful son you are. Patience is a virtue and well, sometimes you just need to accept that there may be NOTHING you can do in the face of injustice. In the end, you'll be able to feel no guilt.....but I cannot say the same for your sister....It's a terrible thing in families when we just cannot all come together as brothers and sisters and work together for the care of an elderly relative. Families get broken over money or inheritances, the elderly can either become the victims or in my case, the perpertrators. Unfortunately, it is rare to have a Norman Rockwell picture in families. Do what you can and that is all you may be able to do.
I wish you peace, sanity and many blessings.
Reply with quote  #9 

I would be furious. 

I would call the local Elder Abuse line.  It may be listed under Area Agency for Aging, specific to your county, or simply under Elder Abuse.  They have workers who investigate these issues. 

What is going on sounds like Fiduciary Abuse.  It is common. 

At least for your own edification, I would call these specialists and at least talk this over with a worker who specializes in investigating these issues.  Then, with more knowledge, you would be in a better position to decide if you want to proceed with having the worker pursue this further.

My best, and good luck.
Reply with quote  #10 

Your concern is understandable and justified. When all your mother's money is gone, she may well come to you for a bail out. I have a similar situation, in that a predator has total control over my father and his finances, assets, etc. I have evidence galore and have spent thousands of dollars on attorneys, have contacted Adult Protective Services and the police. I wish I had comforting news for you but I don't. Here's what I learned in my many years of anguish:

1) 9 3/4 out of 10 attorneys will advise you to file for conservatorship over your mother. This is costly, especially if contested which it surely would be given what you've told us, and there is no guarantee you would win, in which case you would pay the bills.

2) Police do not investigate these cases very often. They will tell you it's a civil case and recommend an attorney and conservatorship. Lawyers again.

3) The remaining 1/4 of attorneys will tell you that unless your mother is mentally incompetent, a hard thing to prove if she's lucid much of the time, she has a right to give away everything she owns and live on a park bench. The tests for competence are not always adequate and it's easy for a semi-lucid person with coaching to come across as mentally fit.

4) Adult Protective Services will investigate but often are not effective. In my case, they recommended the case to the police and received the same comments I did. Go to court. How well researched your case is depends on the investigator. Some are good, many are not.

Since your mother seems agreeable with the arrangement, you will likely get nothing but more grief and a slimmer wallet from pursuing this legally. A consultation with an elder abuse lawyer is a good idea, but be aware that they get paid no matter who wins so are often inclined to advice further action. This sounds cynical and it is. My attitude comes from personal experience and tremendous research.

One organization tries to help with financial elder abuse by gathering the evidence that local police will not and working with law enforcement when they find cause. I have no experience with them and do not endorse them, but it takes the cost and emotional strain of direct involvement away from you so you might check the Web site. It's This group is supported by donations and does not charge those who file cases with them. It may only operate in California, but perhaps there is something similar in other areas.

I know how agonizing this is for you, Jason. You are a good son to care, but sometimes we cannot help our elders unless they want to help themselves. It is unjust, it is a crime, but it's a crime that usually goes unpunished. Do take care of yourself.
Reply with quote  #11 
I want to thank ALL of you for your advice, suggestions and support!  You are all very kind to respond to my dilemma.  I wish this board had been in existence when I was caring for my Father.  I could have received GREAT counsel and advice about the greed of relatives and ex-in laws that tried to move in and take control in order to get that "final check" in their pockets before he died. 

It's amazing what people do when someone is dying.  They sneak through the house and take what they can get away with.  They try to secure "private meetings" with the dying to persuade them to give them more money.  IT'S DISGUSTING!!!  My Sister spend a good part of the time searching through all of his belongings under the guise of "cleaning" to see what it was that she wanted.  Fortunately, my Father got my Sister's ways decades ago.  My Mother never will.

I don't think this situation will ever get to the point where I will need to call authorities.  My Sister is not a monster.  She's a selfish, self-centered, self-serving miscreant in some ways, but she has indeed helped my Mother while she's been helping herself.

As Janie said, there is ALWAYS karma.  I don't EVER want HER karma!!

I feel MUCH better today after reading your own stories and suggestions.  You are all very kind to care.

Thank you ALL so much!! 

Reply with quote  #12 
Jason, I would say I have to agree with those who say, if your mother is a willing participant, there is not much you can do.

About the only thing you can do, is sit down with your mother and your sister, at the same time, express your concerns about your mother possibly needing expensive care in the future, and where will be the money to pay for it?? And that is about all you can do. You have to do it in a way, of course, that does not make it sound like it is 'all about the money', for you. Chances are, they will just put their heads in the sand, or say 'we'll worry about that when the time comes' or your mother might say 'I'll just stay here with your sister!' (uh huh...)

Yes, I think your sister should be compensated in some form, for taking care of your mother, or having your mother live with her (as you did for your father - were you compensated?? I hope so). But if she is going overboard with it, and manipulating your mother, I would definitely have that talk with them. It may not matter in the end. It may make you look like the bad guy. Oh well- you tried.

Your mother may be paying rent to your sister in order to make herself feel better, about 'imposing' on your sister's ... uh ... life. It is your mother's choice I guess. I do have to tell you, if my mother did not require a nurse's care (i.e. 24/7 hour type care), I sure would not be charging my mom $600 a month in rent!! If she wanted to contribute towards food and utilities, I would come up with some fair amount - both to me and her. It sure wouldn't be a huge amount though. That seems a little over the top (to me). But then again, if your sister is doing A LOT of caregiving for your mom -- something a hired aide would be doing, then yes, that is very expensive to hire someone to come in and to do that, not to mention, your life is over (as you know) when you are stuck 24/7. You said your mother is disabled. Is your sister changing her her meds... helping her eat meals....helping her up and down...etc. Know what I mean? If not, then your mother paying Rent is over the top (again - to me). Since she is already contributing to food and utilities.

I do have to mention, that down the road, if your mother is broke and needs help and sister and mom come to you... are you prepared for how you will respond? I would start thinking about that one. You probably already know how you would respond.

It is truly a crappy situation and would make anyone's blood boil, that is for sure. The other option is to totally remove yourself from their situation (if you can) so that your own health and blood pressure is not affected by all this. It is sort of a "Letting It All Go" process. I don't know how close you are to your mother. But you may need to do it, for your own sanity.

Hang in there Jason.
Reply with quote  #13 
Thanks, Beth.

No, my Mother doesn't require 24/7 care, or even close to it (yet).  I was angry about my Sister charging her $700 in rent, when she'd already contributed $15,000 to my Sister's down payment on her first home.  So my Sister dropped the rent to $600, and never let my Mother have the 2nd bedroom and another room that she'd previously promised her when she took the money.  It's complete BS if you ask me!

I'm thinking of writing to my Mother of my concerns.  She's incapable of hearing about this.  She gets childishly emotional and walks away.  She might get it through her head if she reads it on paper.  Sitting down with both of them won't work.  It will be a two-against-one wall of defensive yelling.

I'm frustrated and I don't want to be angry anymore.  My Mother is not in good health, but not in terrible health either, and I don't want to harm her by making her angry.  She's adjusted to a difficult living situation, and she keeps the peace by feeding my Sister cash.  Actually, she's exhibiting the symptoms of "Stockholm Syndrome". 

My Mother is angry with me because I've confronted my Sister before about being a user when she has tried to manipulate ME, thinking that I wouldn't "get it".  (She's so incredibly UGLY about money! - as most users are.)  And when she was recently, mistakenly paid a few thousand dollars which was due me, I refused to just give it to her, as my Mother wanted me to do -- (you know) -- defending broke Sister.  I didn't insist on immediate payment, but I wouldn't just let her have it.  My Sister would have DEMANDED immediate payment if it was ME who owed her the money.  I refused to subsidizer her like Mother is doing, and it totally ticked my Mother off.  She called me greedy and money-hungry because of those incidences, when it has nothing whatsoever to do with greed.  It has everything to do with not allowing MYSELF to be used by a chronic user.

I'm tired and worn out from this tension.  I may just forget the whole thing, and let her bleed my Mother dry.  She might just deserve it overall. 

Thank you for writing ... one and ALL!!!

Reply with quote  #14 
This situation is eerily familiar.  My husband is poa and med proxy for his Mom.  He's the youngest of six and she obviously chose him as he's the most level-headed.  His siblings are hot-tempered and will fight with one another and hold grudges worse than anything I've ever seen and it's usually about money.

MIL and FIL had a two-family home in which one daughter and her family lived basically rent-free for decades.  When FIL died, MIL sold the home and the whole crowd moved into an apartment.  Starting last year, tongues started wagging that MIL's bank account is empty due to the daughter and grand-daughter (her family lives there, too--it's a zoo), draining the account (we're talking upwards of $200,000).

No sooner did the grapevine start growing that my husband receives a call from the lawyer who handled her will, poa, etc., that daughter called and put MIL on the phone to add some sort of a stipulation into the will that said she knew where her $$$ was going and my husband was aware of it.  WTH?  My husband refused to be named on this.  Meanwhile, changes were made that basically leave everything to the daughter.  This is bizarre and out-of-character for even MIL.  The daughter claimed that MIL buys shoes and hearing aides every week.  Umm, yeah, right.  $200K in a few years on all these shoes and hearing aids.

One brother wanted to get the DA's office involved, but never followed through.  Lots of talk, no action.  My husband chooses to do nothing, as to not make his mother upset.  His call, not my business, but I personally believe thieves should go to jail. 

As long as your Mom isn't asking for help, is letting her do as she pleases with Mom's money.  There's really not much you can do.

Reply with quote  #15 
Hi Jason,

Darn, this $%($*$ 's

Realistically, you only have a limited number of choices:

(1) Let it go and let your sister run her dry and wash your hands of it.

(2) Get into it with sister and mother.  I am almost sure the letter would end up eventually in your sister's hands, right?

(3) Get APS involved, file legal complaints. go the legal route.

I'm pretty much a fighter in a lot of situations, but I think in this situation, also looking at the ideas that both your sister AND your mother are getting their needs met in this situation in some kind of convuluted way, I guess I would choose (1) and suck it up and let it go. 

After I let it go, I would just get on with my life, never contribute anything financially to the situation, let Medicaid pick up any expenses if and when the money is gone, let Medicaid figure out the details, and not engage in this topic with either of them.  A situation like this would personally drive me crazy, and I would rather be empowering myself by getting my own financial house in order and not worrying about them.  It sounds like your sister will sabotage her finances sooner or later anyway.  Maybe that's her karma for her unethical actions.  Your mother sounds brainwashed in a way, but, again she is allowing this to happen, and does get something out of this situation. 

They can have their own karma.  Yours will be better and you would be taking the higher road and have peace of mind, knowing that you tried your best about this and made the decision to let it go.

Thinking of the says:  Would I rather be happy or right?  The longer I live, the more I am interested in being happy.  I think most everyone has a potential lawsuit they could file about something, but most of us just don't because the process is just not worth it.

My two cents.

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