Am I bound by an agreement made many years ago with my brother and his wife?

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Twenty five years ago, when I was single, my brother and his wife asked me if I agreed that mom and dad could live equal time in our homes when they could no longer live alone. I agreed but even at that time I wondered what a future husband might think of that arrangement.

I have been married now for nine years and my 91 year old mother cannot live alone any more. My father is deceased. My husband is totally against this arrangement. It has caused a lot of trouble within our family and within my marriage. My brother told us that even though my husband was not there at the time, an agreement was made none the less. My husband has done many things over the years to be a wonderful member of the family for both my parents and my brother's family but he now feels betrayed by them. There is much friction between us all. My brother lives in a different state many miles away.

My mother has mild dementia. She is still pleasant but her memory is very bad.
My husband cared for a relative with dementia for 10 years and he doesn't want to do it anymore. His health is being affected and he is very depressed about mom coming to live with us again. We finally agreed to it and we have had her with us twice for six months at a time. He said he just can't do it again.
My mother has money for assisted living but I know she would rather live with her family. My brother is in charge of her money and he has already divided it up between us with the understanding that we will return it as she needs it. We never discussed health issues when we first made this agreement.

We are looking into adult day care but that would only be two days a week for 5 hours a day.

I told my brother and husband that I feel torn about what to do. They both feel betrayed about my feeling torn. I love my husband very much and I don't want to ruin my marriage. I also care about my mother. Does anyone have any ideas, opinions or suggestions about what to do is this situation?

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You have the right to change your mind. Bro has the right to feel betrayed. Husband has the right to not want to caregive. Cannot blame mom for wanting what she wants. Do not take money, return it for her care, she needs ALF or bro can do 24 by 7 by 365.... His decision.....in which case he should have the $ to facilitate the caregiving at home.
Yes, bro and even mom will be upset, but that is life. You will be worst off if you give in.
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When it comes to caregiving, I don't think a person should be held to what they said yesterday, let alone 25 years ago. These situations are very fluid. Things constantly change both for the caregivers and the care recipients. Unless someone has changed their situation drastically in reliance on your promise and now is left with no other options, I think you should feel free to change your mind at any time. Your husband does not want to live with your mother again and I think his wishes need to be honored. There's no way you can bring your mother to live with you and not have him be equally affected by the situation.

I am troubled that your brother "divided up" your mother's money while she's still alive. I don't think that's appropriate at all, and I think it's probably illegal. Are you sure that he hasn't used up "his" share and doesn't want to have to admit that the money for her assisted living no longer exists?

Your mother may prefer to live with family (or may think she prefers it, having never been in assisted living) but you should not be sacrificing your marriage or your husband's happiness to satisfy her preferences. She has money - it should be used for her care. If your brother wants to keep her full time that's his decision, but you aren't bound by it. You aren't bound to give your mother a home unless she'd be out on the street and starving otherwise (and some would argue not even then).
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Yes, take care of your husband. He is and should be your number one priority. When your mother is gone and your brother is not in your day to day life, who is left? Put your husband's feeling first. No agreement made 25 years ago and before your marriage should stand. Things change, circumstances change. I suspect your brother is more concerned about the money, as many people are, than he should be. Take care.
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I just lost everything that I typed. So, I type it again.

There are many examples of destroyed marriages in the midst of caregiving on this site. Often the destruction is but a symptom of deeper problems within the marriage that the stress of caregiving brings to the surface.

One of the major themes that arises from this collateral damage is one spouse is more connected to a parent (mom or dad) than they are to the spouse. This leaves the spouse feeling all alone. Some wives on this sight are still fighting for their marriage to a man who is more emotionally married to mom than he is to her. Sorry to be so blunt but that is actually what they have written. I've only read of one wife who abandoned her disabled husband to care for her lonely, but rich mom and expressed no regrets about her decision. Some husbands have waited for their wives to return after years of being gone taking care of mom whom the doctor said should be in a nursing home only to find her more upset over putting mom in a nursing home than being glad to be back with her husband. Other husbands have just considered their wives gone to either mom or to dad and have ended up divorcing them. Sometimes, but we don't here about this too often a husband his overly attached to his dad and thus easily dominated into a situation where he is emotionally abandoning his wife.

People may disagree with my observations, but this is what I've seen over the years of being on this site since around 2009 or 2010.

Don't let this happen to you and your husband.
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I have to step in here to respond to the notion that your brother is a criminal. He may have committed a crime according to the letter of the law, but from what you wrote about the situation it sounds like he was trying to protect your mother's assets in the long run. Probably a case of good intentions not backed up by common sense or legal savvy. If he has a shred of sense he will have a verifiable record of any cash outlay from your mother's assets that went directly for her care.

I may be wrong, but my guess is that your brother is being stubborn and unreasonable rather than sneaky and larcenous. Unless you have reason to suspect that Mom was not properly cared for during her stay with brother & wife, I disagree that you should report him to the authorities. He IS your brother, after all, and while your husband comes first, family members deserve some loyalty unless they have proven to be untrustworthy and self-serving.

My advice is to sit down with your brother, just the two of you with no interruptions, to discuss the entire matter. Show him all the responses from this thread. If he won't budge from his position, then you'll just have to say "I'm sorry. I love you, I love our mother, but my life partner comes first. I am not obliged to throw my marriage on the sacrificial altar because of a verbal agreement a quarter of a century ago when I was young and single!"

Best of luck in this sticky situation. Wouldn't it be nice if family members always behaved in a rational and caring manner?
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Sweet One. What a dilema. When my husband and I first got married, I told him that in my culture, we took in our elderly parents and cared for them til they passed. He said no. I didn't understand then, but I do now. His mother had her mother who had Alzheimers live with them. It was horrible for his father and my husband. Grandma never really approved of her son-in-law and made life miserable for them all. Result, many hurt feelings and lots of damage done. My husband refused to put us through that. So when my mother-in-law (fil now passed) got Alzheimers, we got inhome care for her until she went into a facility. Thank Goodness my fil got longterm care insurance for her. We still had to sell her house to pay the rest, but she was in a great home and thrived.

Bottom line, without sounding insensitive, even though you must help your mother, your priority is your immediate family. My pastor confirmed this issue for me which gave me some peace. Try to find a good home for your mom and visit her often. But don't put your marriage at risk.

And as for the agreement, things have changed and you are no longer able to meet your earlier promise. If your family doesn't understand, you need to know that we all have family members who don't (or won't) understand. As they are making decisions that are best for them, so must you. God bless you and yours
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Nice to hear back from you fandango. I'm glad that both you and your husband feel better now.

How in green acers does your brother know when and if your mother at 91 one is going to need Medicaid in at least 5 years and one month so that their 5 year look back does not catch his moving of the money? Also, whatever is above the legal gifting level allowed by the IRS, he has just created a tax burden for his mother. He can't avoid that now, even by paying the money back. I would talk with a lawyer, but I'm almost sure that your brother has made an illegal move with his mom's money as her POA since she has not been determined to be incompetent which is normally required for a durable POA to be activated. If the lawyer says that is so, then your brother no longer has the legal grounds to be her POA and should be removed for that decision. Might have been a well intentioned move, but it sounds motivated by a desire to protect an inheritance that has not been executed by the will and flatly I believe was not legal. Truly, the love of money is the root of all evil. I hope he is not the executor of the estate as well. I hope that I'm completely wrong, but I doubt it. Talk to a lawyer about this. Your mother's money needs protecting.
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My own mother has memory loss and mild dementia. She had a terrible time adjusting to the fact that she moved-in with me - it took her a LONG time to remember she lives with me and, a year later, still sometimes forgets that. It was a terrible adjustment for her to make the move.

Additionally, we stayed in a motel a couple times when we went back to take care of her house that she was selling. She wanted to be involved, but she was so disoriented by being in a hotel (she thought she was in a hospital and didn't know how she got there) that I wondered if I'd done the right thing by bringing her along. Also, even with just a couple days in a hotel, it made it hard to return to my house and she really had no idea where she lived for weeks after the hotel stays. On one trip, we stayed with her sister and that didn't help her - it was still a matter of being in a place she wasn't used-to even though it included one extra familiar person (her sister).

I've had some friends that were successful with the six months between two siblings plan but I think when a person has memory loss and mild dementia that it's probably not going to work, long-term. So, watch how your mother reacts, but I suspect going back-and-forth will be too much for her.

So, what's best for her might really be to stay in one place.

As for your promise, sadly, you'll have to break it. It was made 25 years ago and under different circumstances. Things have changed. You have another person in your life who deserves to be part of the decision, your mother's mental health isn't the same and, even though you should have spoken-up back when you made the promise that you might have to undo it if you got married, it's still not reasonable to hold you to it, now.

Give yourself a break. Breaking the promise makes you feel guilty but it doesn't mean you don't love all the people involved. Your husband isn't a bad person for not being able to handle the situation. Your brother isn't being particularly understanding about this, but he's not a bad person for trying to hold you to the promise, either.

The bottom line is that you can't have it all - no matter what you do, you probably won't feel good about it. Do your best, live with your guilt but try to remind yourself that you're doing your best and do what you can to just remember that.
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You need to have your brother read all of these responses. What kind of person tries to hold another to a verbal commitment made 25 years earlier when the circumstances were totally different.

Whatever money is left should be used for Mother's care. Your first responsibility is to yourself and your marriage. That is also your brother's first responsibility. You can both see Mom is safe and well cared for but that does not mean in your homes. At her age and health, by the time she gets use to one place she is being moved again. Not a good situation at all. Good luck!
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Thank you for these additional two responses to my question. I can't tell you how much it has helped my husband and me. He had been so depressed before he read the responses with me. We are talking about the situation more now and thinking of alternatives. He seems more energized. I am feeling like I can see a light at the end of the tunnel now too. I'm not so consumed with guilt. It's so nice to know that there are people who care about my situation. Thanks again friends!
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