My father has a clinical diagnosis of dementia, and is being scammed by my brother. Ostensibly, he is “taking care” of my dad. I and two sisters live in another state. However, Dad has 24/7 care from two lovely ladies who do all the work. My brother visits and claims he is “supervising.”
He is being paid $4,000 cash a month for being a son, not a caretaker. This is pathetic because he literally cannot take care of himself, let alone be responsible for another person. The two ladies who do everything for my dad report that my brother literally does nothing for him.
At Christmas it became clear that my brother is lying to my father, borrowing God knows how much money with no intention of paying it back. He also has an outstanding $50,000 line of credit on the condo my dad lives in that is held in trust and owned by the four siblings.
“‘My brother is lying to my father, borrowing God knows how much money with no intention of paying it back.’”
My brother just sold his house, and he owes $175,000 on it. My father believes my brother is going to pay him back from the sale of the house, which he originally bought for my brother in cash.
My brother is an alcoholic and has taken lavish vacations and bought his daughter a car, diamond earrings, and designer clothes and jewelry. He also does not report any earned income to the Internal Revenue Service, and receives disability payments for anxiety. I think he is a liar and a cheat, and it brings me no joy to say he has been his whole life.
My eldest sister has power of attorney, but she is the kindest person I’ve ever met. I doubt she will take over the running of my father’s estate, as she herself is very well off and I don’t think she cares about the money.
Not to be greedy, but my retirement plan included being a part of Dad’s generosity, and now he has cut off the three sisters, apologizing to us, and yet is still funding my brother’s lavish spending habits.
I honestly think he has no idea what a mess my brother has put himself in. I also feel what my lazy brother is doing is disrespectful and illegal. Without having power of attorney, is there any advice you can send my way? I fear being cut off, and I need advice to move forward.
Dear Sad Sister,
Don’t rely on your father for your retirement plan.
If you want to help your father and protect him from being manipulated and/or coerced into giving your brother money, you have to put your father’s interests above everything else — including your own interests and fears that you will upset the apple cart and risk your own inheritance. If everyone is looking after No. 1, who will look after your father?
Your sister is not interested in keeping a close eye on your father’s estate. Your brother has access and influence over your father. No one here wants to challenge the status quo. But nothing comes of nothing, and taking no action will only embolden your brother further. It’s much harder to restore money to an estate than it is to prevent the money from being taken in the first place.
Talk to your sister. Speak to your father about your brother. Contact your father’s bank to alert it to his diagnosis and provide evidence to prevent further transactions that could be due to your brother’s undue influence over your father, and submit a petition to the probate court for an independent party to become power of attorney or conservator.
“No one wants to challenge the status quo. But nothing comes of nothing, and taking no action will embolden your brother further.”
“Conservatorship can be set up when a person becomes incapacitated. In order to initiate a conservatorship, a petition must be filed with the court,” according to the Law Offices of Yacoba Ann Feldman. “During the proceeding(s), a judge can hear evidence as to whether or not the individual is truly incapacitated and if she/he is unable to make decisions for his/herself.”
“If an individual petitions for conservatorship when a power of attorney is already in effect, the court may consider the power of attorney before deciding on a conservator,” the law firm adds. “However, since the power of attorney does not cover all needs, and if the individual’s needs exceed those covered by the power of attorney, the court may grant a conservatorship.”
Your letter was 90% about your brother and all of the decisions — nefarious or otherwise — he has made during his lifetime. You clearly have unresolved feelings about him. If you want to take action, put these on the back burner and focus on spending time with your father, and spending your time and energy to make sure his physical and financial health are looked after.
Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.
The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.
More from Quentin Fottrell:
• I live with my girlfriend, 59, who owns several homes and has saved $3 million. I pay utilities and cable, and do lots of repairs. Is that enough?
• ‘He is the most computer-illiterate person I know’: I was my husband’s research analyst, caregiver, cook and housekeeper. Now he wants a divorce after 38 years.
• ‘Our friends always yearned for a relationship like ours’: My husband of 16 years left me for another man. I don’t want them to live in our properties. What can I do?