Going crazy

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My father died last year and left his estate in a revocable living trust for the benefit of his surving spouse, my stepmother, with whom I have had a loving relationship since she and my father married in 1980. I am the remainder beneficiary of the trust, to inherit what is left of the estate at my stepmother's demise.

She is 81 and was diagnosed with dementia in June of this year. She was told not to drive anymore. Her daughter - my stepsister - has power of attorney and is managing my father's living trust and assets that belong to my stepmother.

In August, my stepmother was taken from her Maryland home to Arizona by her granddaughter, persuaded to go by both her daughter and this young granddaughter. Beginning in June, I ceased to hear from my stepsister who has POA. For months, she would not answer or return my calls. I know that my stepmother did not want to permanently move to AZ. I talked to her shortly before she left and she told me that she intended to stay there only two weeks. I also have contact with other relatives of hers and friends of hers in MD, all of whom say that she told them she did not want to move to AZ. In addition, I have a letter from her attorney in which she revoked my stepsister's POA, requested a full accounting of disbursements from my father's trust fund plus a copy of said trust, and requested that her daughter and granddaughter stop trying to persuade her to move to AZ. At that time, she knew that they had bought her a one-way ticket there, a fact which her attorney included in this letter, hand-delivered to the daughter (POA). The daughter did not produce the requested papers and my stepmother was flown to AZ on the one-way ticket.

She has been out there four months. I was able to talk to her granddaughter's cell phone until Thanksgiving. As of that day, the granddaughter has cut me off, either lost or discarded the cell phone, which is not working at all. My stepsister (POA) has resumed contact with me and is flooding me with cards and gifts. I suspect that she is buttering me up.

I am receiving reports that my stpemother's assets are being dissipated at an alarming rate - not for her benefit, but for the benefit of my stepsister and her children.

I am angry that the generous inheritance my father had held in trust for me is threatened, but resent even more being forcibly cut off from my stepmother, whom I love. The granddaughter refuses to give me the address in AZ where she and my stepmother reside. I have been told lies. I have been thrown crumbs to placate me. I am not placated. Nothing makes me angrier than control games. I will not co-operate with being cut off.

I have engaged an attorney to obtain a copy of the trust for me - to which I am entitled by law as remainderman. My attorney is also investigating to find out if there is probable cause for improper adminsistration of the estate.

Last time I talked to my stepmother, she told me that she wanted to get together again with me. Now, I am being cut off by my stepsister and stepniece. I am tired of the game. I have experienced much anguish. I have no living blood relatives. My stepmother is all I have.

Is there anything else I can do in addition to procuring the legal counsel that I have already engaged? Is it possible to make a federal case based upon a complaint of elder abduction? To me, she was cajoled into going to AZ and did not want to become a permanent resident of that state.

7 Comments

Sounds like your stepmom has been kidnapped? Why not share your story with your local police and see what they have to say? At the very least, they may be able to do a welfare check on your stepmom by connecting to the AZ police to see if they can at least locate her and could also act to involve health and human services if they suspect possible neglect or worse. At least you would know that you have done all that you could to try to locate her. Worst case scenario they inform you that it is not within their jurisdiction. Be prepared that since you do have a lawyer involved, my assumption is that the lawyer would have and/or should have told you whether you have any recourse via local police, but ask your lawyer anyway and see what legal advice you receive.
Thank you, Sunshine, for your comment. I consider the involuntary move to AZ to be tantamount to kidnapping. I have researched elder law to learn that there are many cases similar to this, that the typical motive is to get money from the elder in question and, unfortunately, that no federal law at present exists to protect elders from abduction. Such laws do exist for children. There needs to be a clear-cut federal law pertaining to elder kidnapping. I do intend to ask my lawyer if I can involve police in this matter.
I cannot believe the mental distress that I am suffering. I have known and loved my stepmother for 30 years and loved her grandchildren since they were born. I have frequent crying jags and intermittent angry outbursts. I am outraged that my stepniece and stepsister have unilaterally and arbitrarily decided that I cannot talk to my stepmother anymore, that I cannot have the address in AZ to send her cards. I have a strong and assertive personality. I tend to put up with very little in terms of nonsense. To me, this is all nonsense and, as I see it, a stupid mind game. I have a history of depression and suicidal ideation. I suspect that some of my steps are trying to push me over the edge. As remainderman of the real estate, my future interest is quite secure. If I predecease the life tenant, ,y stepmother, my stepsister, now contigency remainderman, becomes the primary remainderman. I am not suicidal, but I am getting depressed and am experiencing digestive troubles. I frequently must vomit up a meal or even just a cup of tea. I am at an age that puts me right of the threshold of senior status myself. I am not as resilient and flexible as I once was.

As an unyielding personality, I sit and fume. I am furious. I have lost all respect for my stepniece and all trust for my stepsister. I intend to obtain a legal order to allow me to communicate with my stepmother.

My father would be turning over in his grave if he knew of these shenanigans.
3930 helpful answers
Muso, I hope you are will seek out a professional counselor. You're very smart and you know you have depression. You have a very sad and depressing situtation going on in your life. Please get as much support as you can. Talk it out here, but look for a counselor, as well. You've really got your hands full.
Carol
I was heading out for choir practice Thursday night when the phone rang. It was my stepbrother, telling me that my stepmother and her granddaughter had left AZ and were headed back home. I was told that my stepmother was very mad at my stepsister.

Over the weekend, I started to get antsy. I did not hear from anyone and began to get antsy. I thought they should have reached their destination by then. I wondered if they had turned back. My worst fear was that they had decided to stay in some other state.

Tonight, my stepmother called. I was overjoyed to hear from her, so excited all I could do was exclaim "I'm swinging from the stars!" and such things. I have spent half the night talking to her and to her other granddaughter, who was having friends over. The girls were playing with each other's hair.

My stepmother says that she will not return to AZ. She says that she belongs in my father's home, where he gave her the life estate. I agree: That is where she ought to be. She seemed in good spirits. I found her quite able to decide where and how she wants to live.

They asked me about Christmas. I told them I have to work through Christmas Eve and will have some leave right after. I didn't mention that I thought I was cut off and had made no plans for Christmas. There were many apologies for not calling during those weeks and months. I just said, "That is finished. Let's all just start over." They told me that they miss me. I told them I have missed them and went over the memories I have been nursing of late: trips we took together, when the younger two threw their baby bottles in a creek near my house to signal that they were growing up ... warm, fuzzy memories.

Thankfully, my story has a happy ending. What I thought would be my saddest Christmas will be my best one ever. I got my family back, which is all I ever wanted.

Happy Holidays and blessings to all.

- Muso
God bless you, Muso.
Muso, I am so happy for you, sometimes we imagine what the "others" are doing while we are working and slaving away trying to make a difference when everyone is having issues of some sort or another. Merry Christmas was a great gift.

Never judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoe aka moccasins.
Holding onto anger is self consuming. Trust in the Lord

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