My mom is 88, and refuses to do a will or Trust. This is a type of emotional blackmail. What do I do?

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I have been the chosen child out of 3 children helping my mom for the last 15 yrs since my dad died (and trust me, I have done chores etc., that I would only do for my mom). I have gotten her to move into the house (with the mortgage) so she can be close to me, my sister (who is always busy), and her teenage granddaughter (who is also busy). I now live a mile from my mom and my sister lives 9 miles away. My sister and I have a less than authentic relationship but we are cordial and all of us do things at time for my mom and my niece (the grand - daughter). Several years ago my mom said that she wanted to leave me the most because I do the most for her. I never asked her for this. When she bought the house she is now living in - she started dangling this over my head saying she wanted to leave it to me and my husband to live in and then to give to her granddaughter. So we would pay the mortgage and preserve the house for her granddaughter and she BELIEVES this is leaving me something. I’ve tried
explaining this to her but it is hopeless. We don’t plan to move into her house, unless there was some unforeseen unfortunate event, and I have taken the stance if it makes her happy that she thinks she is doing something for me - fine. Problem is she continually puts off doing her will or Trust - because she is constantly scrutinizing anything I do or don't do and then tells me she doesn't want to go to a lawyer because she is evaluating her wishes. I have told her that SHE IS NOT giving me anything, that she can give whatever to whomever. She is also paralyzed by the decision of what to do in reference to this in regards to my brother who is on his third not speaking to her since my dad’s death..this time he has not spoken to her since Sept., and his wife has not spoken to my mom in 2 years. My sister has a cordial dinner relationship with my mom and is content with this as my mom has told her she is giving me her house with the mortgage. Since they just do short visits and dinner – my mom praises what a nice relationship they have compared to ours at this point, as it is strained, because it is not EASY helping my mom. My mom is really concerned about what goes to my brother as he has disappointed her so and has been so disrespectful. All of this is dysfunctional. At this point she cannot stand the thought of anything going to his wife. All this aside, my mom has been a good steward of her finances and I cannot seem to convince her she should protect them by going to an attorney - and that she can still change her mind in regards to the Trust at any time. She says if she changes her mind it will cost her again. She is resentful when I bring up going to a lawyer and says this is all I care about. I only bring it up like every 4 months. For her to say this to me – with all the caring I have tried to help provide her – this is incredulous to me. She also says that since all of us are the ones benefitting from what she leaves behind (especially me???) that I should pay the attorney for her Trust. Can anyone advise me what to do?
Do I just give up on it? How do I handle her thinking I am the one who benefits?? All of this, I have let, be crazy-making for me.

Answers 1 to 10 of 26
First off, without a will your mother's assets will be distributed equally among her heirs. Does she understand that is what will happen? If she does understand, then my thoughts are that is how she wants it.

If you pay for the Trust, what guarantee do you have that she is leaving you with the house? Is it important to you that you get the house or anything else she has promised? I am not trying to offend you in any way by asking these questions. I want you to think about it because you know your mother and how she works. Is she testing you as to what your reasons are for taking care of her or is she using the house and other items she has promised to you to keep you helping her? Has she been a manipulating person throughout your life? I may be way off base, but I think your mother may want her assets divided equally. If she has been a good steward of her finances, she can afford to pay for a Trust. I would let it go.
One other thought...maybe she already has a will that you are not aware of and she doesn't want to talk about it with you. Many elderly people have planned in advance and she and your father may have done that already.
When I started out helping my mom after my dad's death (I was turning 50 at the time) - I only did it to give back and because I was a workaholic, unmarried at the time, no personal life, and did not want to continue that lifestyle. I wanted to give back to her and my dad. My brother and his non-family wife have never really been any help-just drama, and my sister is always busy with her small company and work. Oh! and she is a mom and I am NOT (I get that a lot). Oddly, after making this decision, shortly thereafter I actually met my current spouse and decided - I didn't have to be 'rich' or constantly chasing more money. We live a comfortable life style and do most all our house and yard work ourselves. We are frugal but not overboard. My spouse has a good job, I continued and finished up some loose end business, went back into the Reserves , and had that as my part time job and have now retired. I made these decisions with my spouse, who is a great guy and supportive to me and my mom, and we decided that I would not return full time to the work world - but for the most part I would work on my husband and my projects (we did a big home renovation) and be available to travel when I could with him and be available to help my mom - at the time she was living 3,000 miles away and there were NO family members left in that area after my dad died - as my brother and his wife moved south about 6 months after my dad's death. Maybe after 5-6 years into doing this, and my mom beginning to tell me she wanted to do the most for me - I told her that was up to her. I never helped her so she would give me or leave something to me. She was a good and caring mom, never worked outside the home, and though totally co-dependent - she always tried to keep peace in the family or be there when we needed her. She was there often for me in my adult life to offer a helping hand - and so when my dad died - I gladly wanted to be there for her.

As you can read in my earlier post –she is not giving me her home with the mortgage. She wants my husband and me to maintain it and live in it if we want to live in a smaller home (we are now in our 60’s) if she pre-deceases us. When she sort of blackmails me – I try calmly to explain that the house is not going to me it is going to her grandchild. At this point I try just not to say anything. In this scenario – actually my mom will leave me nothing really that I would have as far as my own cash to help towards my own latter years- which at this point does strike me as a bit ironic. At this point it is okay. She doesn’t compute the logistics of it. Even though my husband and I have our own nice house that we are paying a mortgage on –she thinks she is doing something for us – by giving us the option to live in her smaller house until we want to hand it over to her grandchild who is now 16.

I have considered exactly what you are suggesting- let it go. Some people think saying something is the same as doing something. It is possible that she does want to do nothing – so by default she treats all her children the same. That is fine, I never requested anything different.
After like 14-15 years – it would be nice if at least my sister chipped in more to handle the responsibilities. I am weary. I am most weary that my mom (in her distorted thinking-though I do believe she is manipulative and I think she plays her children against each other at this point) is believing and giving my sister the idea that she has some promise to me. I have recently told my sister that my mom has no updated will, and no Trust. Her will is quite old, and does not even contain the house she has now bought. My sister is very smart. She knows that a promise is nothing to stand – but when I ask her for help in some way – except for what she wants to do…have dinner, she has told me that my mom and I have an arrangement and or it is not her responsibility (she is 10 yrs younger than me).
Lastly, yep, I do think my mom is acting like she is testing me and evaluating me as to whether I have done all this or am doing all that I do just to get something from her. Trust me, no sane person, except for one who is just trying to help their mom be safe and happy in her older years, would go through some of the stuff I have done trying to satisfy her or encourage her to take the blessings that my dad left her and have an optimistic and happy life. At this point If I give up - I believe neither my sister or brother will step in. My sister delegates everything either to her secretary or her life partner. It is a puzzle. I'm glad I found this site to try and get some focus before I disrupt the blessings that the Lord has placed in my own life. Thanks for listening.

Maybe you are correct – I should let it go. Guess I am stubborn in knowing all the ways I have
tried to help my mom save money, her expecting me to do her house work, yard work, because she is giving me this house – has or is pretty much making me, a smart person, schizo.

Thanks for the time you took in replying to my post.

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I totally understand! My mother has a personality disorder as well as Alzheimer's. Noting I do is good enough, she accuses me and sis of try to steal her money, etc. My sis and I are helping her with her life now that she is older but we have to have boundaries with her for our mental well being. She threatens to have us removed from her will if we disagree with her on something simple, we both have told her go ahead we don't want your money etc. We are doing our best to do what is right by her but we have to keep an emotional distance with her. I believe you are a kind loving daughter who is doing what you can to help your mother in her older years. It is frustrating I know. You don't have to walk away from your mother, just try to emotionally detach from the situation and as far as her will or Trust is concerned let it go for now. I hope I didn't offend you because that was not my intentions and I apologize. So that you are not doing all this physical labor such as yard work, why not have your mother hire a yard service? Free up some of your time from working for her so you can assist her more in her life with things like helping her pay bills, take her grocery shopping if she no longer drives. My mother has a yard service that comes once a week year round. The will prune bushes for her for an extra fee, it is well worth the cost. Mother still can handle household chores but paying her bills is becoming a problem for her so my sis is helping with it. Mother pitched a fit in letting sis help her with it but she finally came around. My sis lives 45 min. away and I live in the same city as mother but I am 5 min. drive from her. I do more for her because of location and because my sis's health is not good. We both have to work as well. Currently we are working on getting mom to agree to have home healthcare come in maybe 4 hours a day. I work a swing shift so I can't be able in the evenings to help mom with her evening meal. We want to make sure she is eating and drinking enough fluids during the day as summer is here and she refuses to use the a/c. Please look for some alternative resources to ease your load so you can be available for more important functions in her care. Just because we want home healthcare, we will still be coming around checking on mom's care and being available for dr. appts., grocery shopping and just to spend time with her as a companion. (((Hugs)))) to you and please know this site is great for getting suggestions and just to vent. Please stay in touch♥
Top Answer
4Hope, if your mom is financially secure, I don't understand why you are not working with her under a care agreement. She should be paying you monthly for the care she is getting, and not dangling something that may or may not be valuable to you after she dies. Many people do not believe in accepting money for their parent's care. I do (if they can afford it). But if you don't, that is fine. Do what you do out of generosity. If you think you are doing more than you want to, then cut back. Don't let any of the care decisions be influenced by a will that may or may not ever exist.

Personally, I'd let the will topic go. She cannot compell you, from beyond the grave, to maintain property for her granddaughter. You don't have to move, no matter what her will says. She cannot force you to pay taxes or mortgage payments or upkeep for a house that isn't yours. If you don't want the house (and who would under those circumstances?) you don't have to accept it. And, really, won't it be up to the mortgage company whether they are willing to transfer the mortgage to another party? They may simply want to be paid when your mother dies, which would come out of the estate funds. I don't know how these things work -- but this is why if Mother wants things to happen a certain way she really needs to have the guidance of a lawyer.

"Mother, you have done a good job managing your finances and unless you need more care than I can give you here in your own home, you will probably be one of the few people of your generation who has something to leave to your heirs. It is totally your money and your decision about what you will do with it. I'm going to continue to help you out with the yard work and shopping, etc. regardless of what you do with the will. If you choose not to make a will, that is OK with me, too. Us kids will divide everything equally, by law, in that case. But talking about the will isn't very productive. Do as you please. It is your business, not mine. So let's just not talk about it anymore."

If she brings up the "you are going to get more" ploy, say, "Mom, unless you actually make a will your children are all going to share equally in your estate, with nothing going to your grandchild, if there is anything left when you pass on. What you do about your estate is your business. I don't want to discuss it."

If this really is emotional blackmail, it can only work if you go along with it.

As for her kids paying for the legal fees of a will or trust or whatever ... nonsense. She is not required to have a will. If she doesn't want to, or would kind of like to but doesn't want to pay for it, that is her right. (And since money she spends now is money that won't be available in her estate, all of her heirs are in a sense "paying" for the legal work anyway. It is just a little less you'll each get in the end.)

And here is something else to keep in mind. Your mother is 88. In the next 5 or 6 or even 2 years she may develop serious health issues. For "serious" read "expensive." She would certainly not be the first parent who thought she had a lot of money to leave to her heirs who winds up with little or nothing to leave anybody. What if she had to be in a skilled nursing facility for 5 years? What would that do the estate?

Do not count on getting anything when she dies. If you feel you should be compensated for the help you provide, arrange to get paid monthly, under a care agreement. If you are willing to do it without compensation, take two gold stars out of petty cash. Just don't count on what will happen after Mom passes.
Excellent advice Jeanne!!
I would just add that I don't think any attorney would be willing to write a will that leaves the house with a mortgage to you with the stipulation that you pay the mortgage, taxes and upkeep and then it goes to your niece. That is just nuts. Think about it. Your mom passes, the will is read, and you and your husband say, "oh, no thanks", like any sensible person would say. Then what would happen to the house. Well, if no one made the payment, it goes to foreclosure. An attorney would surely point this out to your mom and would not want to be part of such a poor plan. Also, as Jeanne said, the lender has the right to call the mortgage due and payable at the time of your mom's death. They are in no way obligated to take a house payment from a third party.

Your mom is playing you. It could be that she is losing some of her cognitive skills. If she is such a wise money person, she should be able to see that what she is suggesting is a recipe for disaster, meaning the losing of her assets which, normally, she would not want.

My advise is to ignore her and let it be. Don't talk about this with her anymore other than to say, whatever you want to do with your assets if fine with me. Because I have an evil heart, I would probably add, "Mom,there is no reason to talk about your assets now. You could have a major illness, stroke or God knows what and end up in a nursing home for 10 years before you die. At that point, you wouldn't have any assets anyway. I sure hope that doesn't happen, but you never know. That will give her something else to think about.

You know, 4hurt, my parents didn't have anything, but I have watched my husbands mom and her friends who felt they would have something to leave their kids. OMG, they love to talk to each other about the hole passing down thing. You would think they were the wealthy elite and I think they enjoyed seeing themselves as such, even though their assets were small potatoes. My MIL ended up on Medical and we pitched in for her. Don't play the game. Do what's in your heart and nothing more. Hugs, Cattails
To all that have sent in an answer thanks. Sharynmarie I didn't take offense to anything you have said. My mom has common sense in most areas. I have been handling her paperwork and helping her file and paper related living stuff since my dad died. I have been paying her bills from her account and taking care of the majority of her mail for the last 4-5 years. She doesn't do automation, and she doesn't do computer or internet. Keeping up with it all totally overwhelmed her when she was living far from me and her trying to explain this stuff or her paper stuggles over the phone to me was driving me crazy. So since she has moved here for the most part 3 years ago I have the majority of her mail come to my house and I handle it and share it with her.
I have tried to get her to hire a yard person and she will just say I need the money to pay the mortgage. Could she hire someone once a month-yes. But why do it, as I and my husband rescue the situation. I told her she absolutely had to hire someone for the last major clean up as my husband and I cut the grass, set the irrigation and do the minimal. I told her we have our own home to keep up with. She did hire the person I found because I was having her house appraised - as I have just gotten her house refinanced at a better rate and did all of that paperwork as well. SHe says she lets me do these things because she and I have an agreement - so in reading these posts I know i need to attack that misunderstanding one more time. My sister wouldn't mind my mom leaving the house to my niece - she would jump in, handle it as an asset and just sell it. Though if there is no updated will for the new house it would just be divided between us siblings - after paying the rest of the mortgage - it is all mute. She has told me if she ever goes into a nursing home she will never forgive any of us. She took care of her mom and cannot understand why I can't be like her. Funny...'cause I am doing my best to help her as much as I can.
Thanks for everyone's input. I realize that a lot of what has been said makes a lot of sense. If I ever told my mom she should pay me for my help at this point - she would have a meltdown. So I guess I go with the two gold stars! Blessings.
4-hope, there is something called a "due-on-transfer" clause in many mortgages. Which means if you mother gives you this home in her will, the mortgage is due in full and you will be expected to pay off the home. Not a good deal for you, seems your mom just wants you to pay for the house for the grand daughter.

Refuse this, sounds as if you have a good life and do not need her house. However, I would consider being paid or at the very least make your mom pay for some of her yard work, etc. My brother started right off with not doing this sort of thing for my mom and forced her to hire a yard man. If he hadn't done this, he would be maintaining three homes and working 50+ hours a week. That would have been fine with mom as long as she could preserve her money. And like your mom, she has been very frugel and now has plenty.

I would drop the entire will talk, probate will take care of everything. It will go to her heirs.
Thanks for this info. I am going to call the mortgage company and find out if
this clause is in my mom's mortgage. I'm accepting more and more (been difficult because I have put so much work into helping my mom be frugal and guard her money etc., because that brings her a lot of pleasure and reassurance) - anyway, I've coming to the point of letting it go. Her old will states that whatever is in her estate goes equal to her children - I suspect, her grandchild (though her only one) will not be included as her heirs as she was not even born at the time of her old will. The newer house (with the mortgage) will go to probate, etc. as not in anything legally. She is SO ADAMOUNT that she does not want anything to go to my brother because of all the pain he has caused her - and she has no words to express how his wife has also hurt her - but by not doing anything ...I have to accept, at least for her, the chips will fall and will do exactly what she says she definitely doesn't want because of her non-action, and being stubborn.

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