My dad is acting peculiar lately. Lately, he secretly wants to take all of my parent's retirement assets to open up a Fast Food franchise.

Started by

Within the last year, he has been very secretive and doesn't listen to anything the family says, and even worse, has secretly opened bank accounts somewhere. He intends to open up a Fast Food franchise. This is someone who never operated a retail or food business in his life, let alone has a history of never paying bills.
We went to see a neurologist and did a brain scan that revealed 2 minor strokes. However, my dad had never takes the medication and claims he's 100% fine. When you speak to him, he seems to be sound and is able to convince others that nothing is wrong.
However, within the last year, this behavior is going down a path that will ultimately ruin the family financially. My dad is 72, has heart, kidney, and now brain problems. He is in no condition to open up a fast food chain, and won't listen to reason. Anytime, he is approached, he denies it, walks away, or yells at the family member. He claims that keeping his brain active will keep him mentally healthier. We tried to tell him there are other ways to keep his mind active, but he is stubborn and refuses to change his plans.

What can the family do in this situation? I don't want him spending my parent's life savings (which is basically my mom's money since he has a history of never saving, or paying bills. Actually the only reason his credit score looks good, is because my mom monitors all the bills coming and pays them on time. But this will backfire if he applies to open a fast food business and it "seems" he is on top of his finances).
Because he seems competent and calm when talking to third parties, I'm afraid we can't stop him from secretly taking all the retirement funds and blowing it on this project behind our backs since he leaves the house every morning w/o notice.
My mom is terrified. The bank put the bank account in his name for some reason and won't change it back to the way it was.
What options do we have for someone who refuses not only help, but secretly does things and denies them.


Wow, Jeff, this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

I don't understand how the bank put formerly joint accounts into his name. To do that would require your mother's signature. Do you think he had someone forge that? Or did he withdraw all the money and open a new account in his own name only? I guess that would be easy enough. I think that your mother should go into the bank, talk to a manager, and find out exactly what happened to the accounts that had her name on them. And then she should see a lawyer.

Maybe a well-worded letter on legal letterhead would help your father understand he can't live out his fantasies with money that belongs jointly to his wife.

Competent adults are allowed to make their own decisions, even very unwise decisions. Even decisions that will bankrupt them. But I wonder if your dad is fully competent. And even if he is legally competent to make his own decisions, he should not be allowed to do it with money that isn't fully his.

I think your best option is for Mom to seek legal counsel. Sorry. This is very painful for all, I am sure.
Wow. Can you seek to have your dad declared legally incompetent? If people are willing to go that far, you have more leverage.

As for the fast food franchise, typically, they require quite a lot of cash to even take the application. Unless its a fly by night enterprise, he'd also have to have experience or a visible partner with experience. And then he'd have to pass a physical, at his age. Which he won't. So at least it would be very doubtful that he could actually make such an investment.

Changing the names on the account shouldn't be possible without your mother's initial permission. If he didn't have it, see if your Mom is willing to press charges against him AND the bank. Not that she has to. But willingess to go forward makes it more possible to take steps he will take seriously.

Please keep us posted. Good luck!
Thanks for the feedback. In the case of the bank account, he already created his own bank account somewhere else to put all his money that he withdrew from the original account. My parents bought a small building about 30 years ago that has appreciated with inflation. I believe he plans to sell it, or at least use its equity to get the funding for his project. It is very possible that he may have found a partner in order to get the franchise (who wouldn't say no to somebody else financing a franchise for you right?) He denies all of those so he's basically lying to cover his tracks, but by snooping around his paperwork we were able to get bits and pieces.

I'm just afraid he'll take out a loan on my mom and dad's retirement (the funds and the building they bought years ago), use the money, and find some greedy partner to open up some fast food franchinse (which he has absolutely no experience running, he's terrible in money, cant even balance his own checkbook).
Either the business will go under (because of his history of never paying bills, even as low as $10), or the potential partner will siphon off as much of the money as possible and run.
My mom is so scared right now, and everytime any of us confront him about it, he denies it, gets angry and leaves the house telling people to leave him alone.
I don't know if we can him declared incompetent because if he talks to a stranger, he is very coy, and says all the right things. But all his actions within the last year has changed from before where he used to be more open and now he's just secretive and angry all the time.
If he refuses to see a psychologist or other help, what can my mom do? Can a lawyer really do anything if he seems to be perfectly coherent? I mean anybody has a right to sell his property and decide to open up a business.
What type of legal counsel should I look for?
Jeff: Yes, anybody has the right to sell his property or mortgage it, and decide to open a business. HOWEVER, these are JOINT assets. If the building is in the name of both parents, your dad can't mortgage it or sell it without your mom's signature.

I have a joint account with my husband and I could go to the bank and withdraw all the money without his approval, because the account does not require both signatures. Property is different.

Your mom needs good legal counsel and yes, it's quite likely that an attorney could bring pressure to bear on your dad and stop him from squandering all they have worked for. Start there soon. I don't know which is the best type of attorney. Maybe one who truly understands elder law. I think you may need that type of lawyer more that once at time goes on.

Good luck. I feel so sorry for your mom. Hugs, Cattails
Thanks for your feedback. Yes looks like I will have to find an attorney. If anyone knows what type of attorney, please let me know.
thank you
I thought I posted this yesterday, but I don't see it here: Try asking a divorce attorney for a referral. I am not suggesting that your parents divorce, but this is the exact kind of lawyer who is brilliant at forensic accounting -- where is the money, how is it held, how to protect assets. They may be able to handle things without referring you to someone else, but for what's going on, I would start here, no doubt about it. Good luck!
Ok, will do, thank you

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support