Is the mis-management of the trusts by two fighting daughters elder abuse?
For the past 6 years, I have been the primary trustee of my mother's trust (aka Survivor's Trust) and paid for her bills, taken her to doctor's appointments, coordinated her caregivers after she started dialysis treatments last year. I also faithfully served as her caregiver as well for many years. I live in California, am now retired and live 1 hour away from where my mother currently resides.
A second trust was created when my father died, (aka the Bypass Trust) and my elder sister, who lives in TX, was made the trustee of that trust. My problem is this.
Last year, my survivor's trust, that I managed for my mother, ran out of funds and I had to ask my sister for additional funds from her Bypass Trust, as it should be handled according to our Trust CPA. My sister has repeatedly given me much grief whenever I requested funds, not sent me trust documents she has when I requested it, and reluctantly given me the interest on investments that my mother is entitled to received within 2 months of receiving my sister receiving it from our mother's investments. I just got tired of dealing with my sister, so I asked a trust attorney if I could be the trustee of both trusts to make it simplier. He told me that I had the legal right to remove my sister as trustee of the Bypass Trust and to make myself the Trustee of the Bypass Trust as well. All I had to do was write her a letter informing her of this.
My sister in TX categorically refused to cooperate and to talk to me; she just hung up on me and told me "you just want to have control" of Mom's money. The bottom line is that I had the right as the primary trustee of the Survivor's Trust to do this.
WIthout consulting me, my sister flew to CA a week later to have our mom remove me as trustee of the Bypass Trust and to remove me as her Durable Power of Attorney. It is my belief that she illegally did this as the decision to have her removed as trustee of the bypass trust was already in the works. She did this without going to an attorney and simply had our Mom sign an amendment to the existing trust and brought her to a notary to have her signature notarized. I believe that she intimated our mother. Our mother dislikes arguments and will agree to anthing because of this. She is also not very assertive, nor does she have any understanding of legal matters.
I was absolutely shocked to learn that my sister to do this behind my back. She also solicited the help of our younger sister, with whom our mother lives. I believe that they both coerced our mother to sign the papers to give my elder sister control of our mother's trusts and to be our mother's Durable Power of Attorney. What other course of action did my mother have when confronted by two daughters? I was not informed of any of this; they went behind my back.
My mother will be 92 years old in another month, is feeble minded and very weak since she started undergoing dialysis a year ago. She is also not well educated or versed in legal matters. I was an Legal Assistant for 5 years, so had the knowledge over my sisters to be the sole trustee. I was also the daughter that my mother trusted the most in the dealings of her estate for the past six years.
What my elder sister did was, I believe, illegal ,immoral, unethical and a form of elder abuse. She did not take our mother's best interests into account at all. She only thought of herself and having power over our mother. Logically, I believe it would be in our mother's best interest to have a daughter manage her trust and be her Durable Power of Attorney who resides in the same state as she does, not by a daughter who lives in TX who has little time to devote to her trustee duties, much which was delegated to her husband.
My sister has a business that she is very busy working at seven days a week. I am retired and have more time to spend on the managing of our mother's trust and I live 1 hour away to our mother in CA. When I spoke to an attorney on this, he stated that he thought it was a case of "sibling rivalry". I can attest to this because my elder sister and I have always not gotten along and she has always been very jealous of me while growing up.
This is not my concern. My concern is who is better able to serve our mother as her trustee as she is approaching her last days? Who has the most time to do this and who is the most capble person? If something were to happen to our mother in the near future, wouldn't it be the most logical to have me continue to be her Durable Power of Attorney as well as her trustee in order that I can continue to pay her bills and coordinate her caregivers?
Any comments would be greatly appreciated. I plan on seeking legal advice again ASAP. The problem is that I don't have any funds to pursue this situation as I would like. I am being requested to hand over the trust funds that I currently have in my possession, but I won't do this until I get some legal advice on how to pursue this.