What can I do if my elder brother is trying to dominate the discussion about Power of Attorney for my parents?

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Our 80's parents live in their own home and have diminishing health. My brother lives 650 miles away, and sees them a week or two out of the year. I live 250 miles away and see them every 2-3 or 4 weekends depending upon the current need.

Its time to put POA in place, and I talked with my parents about this on the last trip. They agreed that it could/should be between my brother and myself (not the remaining 3 sibs). My parents told me to discuss it with my brother and decide how we want to handle it and they would agree.

I called my brother to let him know of the situation and suggested that he become POA for Finance and I become POA for Health. It is my intention to start attending their important doctor visits as backup. Brother's response is to postpone any movement on the subject until he can speak with my parents face to face which is another month or two. He claims that as executor of their estate, he will be POA for Finance, but will not discuss my being POA for Health.

It is better to get POA in place sooner rather than later because my mother needs the care of a Neurologist and as soon as she goes there, she and my dad could both be diagnosed with dementia. Dad is her primary care giver, hence the possible complications from all this.

I have approached this topic wanting to collaborate with my brother, to come up with a plan for caregiving and to start assuming more legal responsibilities, along with on-the-ground responsibilities.

His response to me is to be rude, dismissive, domineering, bullying, and insulting. He talks over me, he dismisses my input, he lectures me, he talks down to me, he ignores any ongoing discussions he hasn't been involved in, he is deciding to do what he thinks is best on his own with no sense of collaboration, he refuses to have an open discussion, he refuses to express his real motives and he accuses me of pressuring him.

If I start a conversation, he interrupts me and starts explaining things to me that I already know and starts giving me direction. When I finally get a word in to give him information, or tell what is already occuring or what has already been discussed, it seems to inflame him beyond reason.

He does not understand or respect that I have been a part-time caregiver to our parents for the past 3 years.

i believe that his world view demands that he drive the ship, and that everyone else is his inferior and underling. He is a high placed administrator in health care for elderly, and the elder brother.

My world view is that birth order, age and gender are irrelevant. Its down to who is capable and motivated to take tangible responsibility for our parents. That we should collaborate in a loving way that makes it easy and comfortable and safe for my parents, and that there is no need for contension. I am a professional in a position of responsibility and have lead a stable, interesting life. I am financially, emotionally and intellectually capable of taking care of our parents, and my husband supports my effort fully.

I have let him and his ego and rudeness go for years, but now its getting in the way of something that I really, really care about, and I am not going to back down. I am not going to be treated in this way, or to be edged out or dismissed as a helping hand who isn't capable of holding real responsibility.

I am letting him stew in his own juices for now, but I am so hurt and insulted by his behavior that I can think of little else.

My question is this. Can anyone give insight into why he is behaving in this way or how to handle it?

Many thanks in advance.

Answers 1 to 10 of 24
I started out being the sole person as POA for my mother-in-law since I was the one taking care of her the majority of the time. I paid her bills etc. But then it was my thought that someone other than myself should also be on there with me. So we added my brother-in-law since he was the one that seemed most knowledgeable about the financial stuff like me. Now we have all three of her boys on the account with her as co-owners but I'm still only POA. When she dies my job is legally done, which is fine by me, and the boys take over. But I still pay her bills and run the checkbook alone. Everything is accessible online to her sons to check up on whatever I'm doing, keeping my conscious clean. So far, so good. Just remember POA ends when the person dies, so you've gotta be on the account as co-owners.
I think you've answered your own question, WaterStone. Brother behaves this way because he has an inflated ego and he is rude. He has gotten by with this, at least within family, for years. Why would he suddenly change?

Stick to what you feel is best for your parents. Don't back down just because you are being bullied. Listen to Brother's views, too, of course. Perhaps the two of you can go together to visit an Elder Law attorney and/or a CPA. Are there a lot of assets to be concerned about?
I am sorry you are going thru this with your brother.

When it comes to POA's my suggestion would be that there is only one. If you have two then there will be problems. I would tell your parents that you would like to be the POA and that decisions would be made by all of the siblings with you as the final decision maker.

Unfortunately, you may find that your brother becomes more hostile so just be preprared and don't let it hurt you because this is about your parents not him.
Top Answer
First, I think your brother is confused. As executor of their estate, he will not be POA for Finance. Have the two of you read the will if it is joint or wills if they are separate which most are? Does he understand the difference between being the executor of an estate which begins with either parent's death and Durable POA which ends with either parents death? If not and you have a family lawyer, it might be good for him to hear the difference from an objective third party since your relationship with your bother is already conflicted.

Second, it is really up to your parents to chose who is going to be POA and the sooner that decision is made the better. I sure hope your dad is not already POA for your mother or her for your father because that frankly does not work.

Third, your parents are being to passive about this and in a sense have triangulated you, your brother, and your parents in this discussion. In my opinion, now that you have told your brother what role you want and he seems to want the durable POA, then the two of you together face to face need to say what each would like in order to avoid the confusion of "he said, she said." But still, it is your parents decision to make and they can change it anytime they want as long as they are of sound mind. Surely they are aware of how your bother relates with you and has he been that way since childhood?

Fourth, why are you two chosen and the other siblings being left out? That is a set up for conflict. If I were your parents, I would pick the two children who would do the best job and work with each other the best if I were going to separate POA between the children.

Fifth, you have told us about your conflicted relationship with your brother about this, but I have not read that you have told your parents? Have you told them?

Sixth, they and he really do need to talk and confront him with your perception of things. If he blows up at them, that's enough proof there that they need to not chose him, but select another sibling.

Seventh, do any of your other siblings live right where they are?

Seventh, it sounds like your parents have somewhat of a worldview about oldest child and first born sons in selecting him with you. I gather that you two must be the two oldest and possibly not very far apart in age.

Eighth, I really think your parents need to take responsibility for who they chose among their children for they for sure know all of ya'll well and just go ahead, meet with a lawyer to draw up a POA, select someone, sign it themselves, have it notarized and then let everyone know who has it.

I'm sorry you are having so much conflict with your older, take charge, must be in control brother. I wonder where he learned that from? I'm sorry that the two of you have evidently never had a real bother/sister relationship which is worse.

I wish you well in working through this maze and while I am not a therapist, you might need one to help you understand your brother and learn some communication skills with which to deal with a personality like his which sounds very narcissistic or at least the spoiled one of the family.
@naheaton - sounds like you have struck a good balance.

@jeannegibbs - thanks for the support. Probably enough assets to see them out with comfort, and a little extra. I don't think it s a greed thing. Its a good idea to visit an elder care atty - someone that could provide objective advice. Bookmarking this idea.

@sonyam - I hear what you are saying about problems with two POA, but with him being so far off and not able contribute small steps along the path, I can't see him taking both as a practical solution. I cannot imagine a world where he would want me to take both, even though I am willing, and viewed in measured terms, am best aligned to take the responsibility. Thanks for the words - you are right - this is all in service of them.

@cmagnum - many good things to think about.

1 - he is not confused - he knows (and I reminded him) that executorship starts only upon their deaths, and that we are talking about managing the here and now. I believe he's saying that in hopes that I fall for it. He stated categorically that he would not be comfortable with sharing Financial POA with me, or with me having it.

2 - This is an excellent point. It is their decision. My father is not POA for my mother, though it is my brother's rec that he become so. I think this is a bad idea as his faculties are already failing.

3 - Interesting point. I don't believe it was their intention to triangulate us, but perhaps we all thought that bro and I could work it out amicably. I don't know what they are aware of in terms of family dynamics. I think they would be surprised to learn what a db he is being.

4 - Yes, there are other sibs, and they an hour away from the parents. I see our parents more frequently than any of them. Through disposition and capability, none of them are good bets.

5 - I have not told my parents about the conflict. It was my hope to spare them discomfort. I think a reasonable and benign next step would be to simply help educate them on what POA is, and the decisions involved.

6 - Tricky. They are in denial about their own status. It is time they had someone coming to the house to help them administer mom's meds and clean and keep good food in the fridge. It is time for Dad to stop driving. They have stopped saying "Come visit any time, we love seeing you." and have started saying "We know what you're doing and we really appreciate all your help." That will be an interesting conversation when we're all sitting around the table.

7 - Yes, they probably have propped him up as elder son. I am the youngest, and at 47 am 11 years bro's junior. The family dynamic has me as "the baby" although we have a kind of two-family dynamic - the first 5 kids were born close together, then 5 years later I came along. I'm like an only child and have a different relationship with my parents - more of a peer relationship, esp with my mother. I let their roles as parent become a ceremonial one years ago, assuming full responsibility for myself and my experience. The rest of the sibs still seem afraid of their parents.

8 - Upshot - you are right. It is their responsibility. My bro and I have not been able to collaborate on this, so its resting entirely on the folks' shoulders, where it was all along.

Your words have given me much to think about from angles that I hadn't seen and you have truly helped me. Thank you.
Glad to help. 3. People very seldom triangulate other on purpose. 5. I think at some point they are going to ask about you two, and you are probably going to have to tell them. 6. Denial is a tough one and often can be overcome with a third party's input like their doctor or a home health nurse coming by to do an evaluation. Somehow, they need to understand this is something they are doing for themselves by authorizing someone they trust, trust is the big issue here, to help them financially and medically when they are no longer capable to handle their business in a business like manner or make medical decisions for themselves. 7. Wow 11 years can be like light years apart for I've seen that among my cousins who had 12 siblings. I'm always sorry to hear about grown siblings being afraid of their parents and not assuming full responsibility for themselves and their experience. You sound like a very mature person who has an adult to adult relationship with their parents.

I wish you the best in all of this mess.
@cmagnum Thank you for your feedback and support.
There is a big difference between Executor and POA. If your brother was as smart as he thinks he is and would like everyone to believe, he would know this. Executor only comes into play when your parents are deceased if he was indeed made the executor of their estate. POA is only valid while they are alive. As soon as they pass that job ends. Speak to your parents in a calm manner and explain to them that you are the closest one living by them and it will soon be your responsibility to take them to their appointments. You do not need medical POA to take them to the doctor. All you need is for them to sign the document at the doctor's office stating that their information can be discussed with you. That's it. Medical POA comes into play if the get ill and cannot speak for themselves. An advance directive will also put their wishes in effect and the POA means nothing then. So dont' get all hell bent on being the POA. It doesn't really mean to much. My sister had POA on everything but I took mom to a new doctor and it's no problem. You parents can go to any doctor they want and the doctor can tell you with their permission what is going on with their health as their caregiver. If your parents are in a good state of mind, they can make you POA and don't have to tell your brother anything until it's done. It's an easy process and can be done through an attorney the legal way or you can get a document online and then have it notarized for validity. It makes sense for you to be their caregiver and POA since you are the closest and can make sure they are in good hands. If you brother gives you crap about it then he is not doing what is in the best interest for his parents and just wants to be controlling. My sister did that and my mom revoked her POA. So if he is bullying now, as POA it will only get worse.
If you are the child providing the care giving then in the longer term you need to have access to your parent’s funds without having to "beg" your brother to open the purse strings. Responsibility without any authority will potentially make things difficult for you down the road. As you are the one who does the majority of the care giving it would be best if you had both financial and medical POA for your parents.
Hi WaterStone,

Go see your parents and get both POA's in your name. It sound like you will take care of them and help them get what they want. You don't need even need at attorney. My POA is 16 pages long you and your parents can go to a notary. Other things need to be in place. When they die the POA is powerless.

Just do it and take care of them!

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