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We're in a Heated Agreement!

April 1st, 2009 at 01:36 pm

DH and I are so both upset with my sister right now, we are positively bristling. Unfortunately, since we've decided not to respond to her until we calm down and do some research, we're boiling over at each other. It's a scalding heated agreement that we are angry together about, and yet here we are, well, angry. Sigh.

This all could have been prevented. It should have been. Before my Dad passed away, he begged my Mother to sell their house and move into a retirement community. The housing market was up, and even though the home is older, it would have closed quickly. The retirement community provided progressive care, so as my father's illness worsened, more medical staff, less straining, and now as my Mom struggles alone, she would have had everything she needed.

Even a reverse mortage would have worked, at least a year or two ago.

Instead, she refused. Then Dad wanted to get the house retrofitted for their walkers and handicaps: bathroom fixtures, wider doorways, ramps going in and out of the home. But he died before it was taken care of.

I live on the opposite coast of the U.S., thousands of miles away. So my sister, who lives near Mom, started caring for my Mom on weekends. Washing sheets, weeding the garden, just being there. In exchange, my Mother transferred the house into her name, or at least willed it to her. Mom is 87, and we are never quite sure what she has really done versus what she says, and my sister hasn't really been clear.

Last year my sister transferred all my Mother's money into her own accounts where she said she was getting better rates. DH and I were pretty adamant that she not put it into stocks or investments that were already showing signs of going south. It's not clear what happened with Mom's accounts, but sister said she lost $30K of her own money. I didn't think she had $30K of her own saved away, but, well...

...and she decided Mom should remodel her kitchen instead of putting in the handicapped features. New countertops, new top of the line appliances, $40K. In a very old, small house. I pressed Mom not to do this, Mom is not even allowed into the kitchen according to her doctors. But she wanted my sister to have what she wanted, and my sister wanted the best. Mom's money, Mom's choice.

But here's the rub. Mom uses a walker, and she has been falling. Alot. We had paid for installation and monitoring by a good facility, but Mom and sister canceled it and picked up a different contract with a system that doesn't work that well. She uses it several times a week, sometimes a day. But she's so old and weak, most of the people on her "call" list aren't strong enough to lift her.

As I blogged, she recently fell and laid on the grass, in the rain, for over two hours, with a giant bump on the head. When help finally came, she refused to go to the ER (where an assessment of her living conditions would be required). Sister came, sent everyone away, etc.

Yesterday I received a scalding email from my Sister, demanding that I move out to care for Mom, and pay for additional care. I'm currently disabled from my accident, my husband continues his fight with cancer, and even though I'm just in my 40s, I can't provide care for everyone. My husband and I arne't employed right now. My sister flat out refused in her email to sell Mom's house. She plans to retire in it, and she won't sell it.

DH is beyond furious. And I am too. And instead of yelling at my sister, or my Mom, we're just tense with each other.

Finances do that to people. And inheritences, even when there is really very little to inherit, seem to turn loving, wonderful people into something else.

Sigh. I'm going to have to do more research to see if I can demand someone outside the family step in to evaluate the situation.

15 Responses to “We're in a Heated Agreement!”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I wonder about a call to social services in the area?

  2. miclason Says:

    ((hugs)) I really have no advice on this one... except that I do remember how hard it was with my parents, how stubborn they were...
    I hope you find a good solution pretty soon!

  3. fern Says:

    i think your sister really crossed the line depositing your mother's $ into her perseonal accounts. I wouldn't let her get away with that.

    Get a lawyer. She is clearly acting in her own best interests, not your mom's, with complete disregard for the other siblings.

    Seriously, someone has to put a stop to this.

  4. momcents Says:


    Having just gone through a very involved estate/probate issue that involved the well-being and care of an 85 year old great aunt to DH, there probably isn't much that you can do from a money standpoint as far as what your sister has done with your mother's money. To get a lawyer would involve you having to pay a retainer, and if you don't have the money, it isn't worth it.

    With that being said, I would say that because your sister has taken over your mom's money, it is up to her to come up with how to deal with the situation.

    Perhaps you can have the original monitoring put back in place and pay the bill. That would bring you peace of mind about her security.

    I would completely ignore your sister. Easier said than done, I know. Give yourself time and space and don't even respond. It isn't up to you. She accepted the responsibility when she took over the money management and is being irresponsible.

  5. debtfreeme Says:

    Call the local office of aging in your mothers state. That is what they do, help the families. They can do an appraisal of the situation, including if your sister has influenced your mothers decisions.

    Also, your mothers house would be considered an asset that would have to be sold in order to qualify for assistance in living in a "community" should your mother need it. The Aging office can give a neutral look at the situation that would include interviews of all family members and your mother with out your sister present.

    They will also appoint an advocate if you ask that will provide assistance and help approve decisions to be made on a neutral basis.

    Also, your sister will need to provide an accounting of what happened to your mothers assets. It is one thing you can request.

    I would also consult with an attorney who specializes in the elderly.

  6. whitestripe Says:

    please do something, or all of, what has been listed above. i cannot give any advice but i just cannot stand when people are unfair and boss others around without a thought of how it may affect them, only of how THEY personally will benefit or be affected. your sister, i hate to say, sounds very selfish. i send all my best wishes to you and your husband, please do not take it out on each other as it sounds like you have enough on your plate without any thing to do with your mum and sister. give each other a warm hug and do something together without discussing your sister, and bring back the closeness, don't let outside issues affect your relationship. *hugs*

  7. Ima saver Says:

    I am so sorry for you. I went thru this myself. My father died when I was young and my mother put everything she owned into my sister's name cause she was 9 years old than I was. She made out a will leaving everything to us two girls, 50/50. But because she had everything in my sister's name, (home, car, cd's) everything went to my sister and the will disappeared.
    We never spoke to each other again.

  8. flash Says:

    Thanks for the input! I thought it was a bit out of line. Especially since we have been carrying my sister in many ways, financially, and not realizing she was telling my Mom that she (my sister) was paying for everything. I'm going to google what I can find for the social services and geriatric assessments in her area.

  9. flash Says:

    Oh, man, she ended her last email with

    how can YOU help???

    which is understandable, but I've tried to give good financial advice, and find help. All of my recommendations for in home care, delaying the kitchen remodel, etc., have been ignored. And I've been picking up a bunch of my sisters bills. Sigh.

  10. princessperky Says:

    Ouch that email sounds terrible, I know what you mean about angry agreement...my husband and I have a few times where venting cannot be done to the originator, so we end up venting around each other. (which is too close to at)

    I hope you both are able to get out the anger and I hope one of the other more helpful comments finds you a solution

  11. flash Says:

    Well, it took five long distance phone calls.

    I contacted the local social services and found out about the Adult Protective Services and In Home Supportive Services and loads of stuff. Thanks so much for the suggestions!

    They are going to have a social worker go out and do an assessment within 10 days. Sister is steaming, but they aren't going to force anyone to do anything. They do have many services for low income seniors to help them stay in their home, or ease them into a different situation.

    I sent my sister an email with the information, and they have her phone number to get additional information on the situation from her perspective. So hopefully if I'm overreacting, someone else can give some input.

  12. whitestripe Says:

    at least you can respond to her email: see, you asked for help, i am helping... Big Grin even if it is not what SHE wants.

  13. lizajane Says:

    I'm just catching up on things, and my heart goes out to you. I hope that things work out better, both for your mom and for you and your hubby. As for your sister, well...., I hope she wakes up and smells the coffee SOON. I hope she doesn't have any children of her own; it would be a horrible example to set for them for when she is old and feeble.

  14. flash Says:

    Thanks again for the support!

    I'm so stressed trying to keep everyone else feeling okay about this. I'm trying to emphasize that this might be a way to get "free" support from the local organizations that she's been paying into all these years.

    I'm still sorting out all the costs that we have paid into this last year to keep my family supported. They have no comprehension, even though I tell them. Sigh.

  15. Broken Arrow Says:

    Wow. I can't tell you how much something like this upsets me.

    Thank goodness my sisters are not as... what's a polite word I can use? Well, at least they don't push me around like that. Were I your husband (and perhaps it's a good thing I'm not), I would have gone straight over and given her more than a piece of my mind. Personally.

    Yes, I know you mentioned thousands of miles and would have involved a plane ticket. Actually, if someone was just picking on me, I would not have gone that far, but if someone was taking advantage of my mother like that? Family or not, they going to feel me breathing down their neck.

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