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I live about 300 miles away from my mother. She's 82 and has Parkinson's. My brother, who has never worked much, lives with her and has done a much better job than expected with cooking, running errands, and lawn care. He makes sure she takes her medicine and encourages her to eat more.


Unfortunately, he also helps himself to her money via her ATM card. He often helps her pay for things so he knows the PIN number. And then he frequently pockets the card and uses it as he pleases. She either doesn't want to get it back or forgets to get it back. He also treats her car as if it's his and spends more time out of the house than I'd like.


I became aware of the ATM withdrawals only recently, when I began monitoring her account online. (I have POA.)


Talking with my brother has little effect--I've always suspected he's a sociopath (no conscience) but that's not a conversation I've ever had with him. He continues to treat the ATM as if it's his personal account.


If I were to simply have him arrested, then my mom will immediately need to be placed in nursing home--which she's completely opposed to. It's possible she would come live with me and my husband. We have the room and would be happy to have her...but we do both work full time. (She'd spend about as much time alone as she spends alone now except that we'd feel bad about it. My brother is often out and about.)


While she's healthy enough to remain in her home, I'd love for her to be able to stay there.


Are there any options here that I don't know about? Friends have suggested opening a new account, but he'd easily take the card for the new account and continue using her money.


Thanks!

Does your Bro have a caregiver agreement that he gets paid to take care of her? You say he does a "much better job" than expected.. so that is good.. right? Is he taking a lot of money,, or just a bit for his expences? If his withdrawals are small, or could be for her errands and things like his gas, I might let this go. If he buying a new car or drugs I would not. As to the car,, if he is living with her, and (maybe ) not getting paid.. I would be OK with too. We need a bit more information here.
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Pasa18 Aug 26, 2020
 "He makes sure she takes her medicine and encourages her to eat more."
I am wondering if she would take her medicine or eat if he were not present. Do you see his value in being there? As her needs grow, will he be expected to provide more care or will she require more supervision?


Is he compensated or given an allowance for errands for this level of care?
Because your brother is family, I doubt he will be arrested if your mother sees him as helpful in any way. I have a credit card which I have authorized my son to use for a limited amount that I feel comfortable with and I can review as needed.

I would refrain from assigning a mental health diagnosis from personal observation and get a formal investigation if there is a financial abuse concern.
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Why is he not being paid for his caregiving?
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AudreyB4 Aug 26, 2020
Really, now that I'm reading all these replies I am mad at myself for not having thought of this.

Thanks for your reply!
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I've read your post twice, and still am drawn to a few conclusions and questions.

The consideration that he might be sociopathic and has no conscience makes me wonder about his doing a good job of caring for your mother.   I had experience over several years with someone who was clinically diagnosed as sociopathic, and observed that his "interaction" with people was always manipulative, never considerate as your brother seems to be.

So I wonder if you're misjudging him?

I also would ask the same question as Barb Brooklyn.   And are you certain that the funds he appears to be taken aren't consideration for his assistance?   Have you or your mother made provisions to compensate him?  I think's that's mandatory if your mother can afford it.  After all, he's providing care, and (I don't mean to be offensive) but apparently you're not.

Before reaching any conclusions, I'd politely discuss the withdrawals and get the real story on what's happening.   If your mother told him to take funds for her care, you'd be creating an unpleasant situation by accusing him.

And I think if you're thinking he could be arrested, you need to think about gathering all the documentation you can get, as the police will need to review it before even considering any action.

You wrote that discussing the issue has little effect; from my experience and the standpoint of his being onsite doing the work and you being out of the area and observing, I can easily understand he might resent your reviewing his actions.

Give this some thought and try to find a better way to approach the issue, such as discussing compensation for him.  If that doesn't work, you can think about collecting documentation.
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notgoodenough Aug 26, 2020
GardenArtist, you said what I was thinking in a much nicer way than I could have.

I certainly don't condone the financial exploitation of the elderly.

But there is NO WAY I would agree to take care of my mom if, say, one of my sisters had financial control. No way. I am not going to be reduced to begging every time I need money to pay for her medicine or supplies. You're willing to let me clean up her dirty underpants, wipe down the bathroom after she can't make it to the toilet in time, get up and run to her every time she needs anything, from a simple glass of water to being lifted off the floor when she falls, and everything in between that encompasses caregiving, but you don't trust me with her money? I would consider that such an incredible insult. Maybe it's just me, but that is how I feel.

Sorry if I am being unkind to the OP, but I think passing judgement from 300 miles away is unfair to the brother. And if he were truly a "sociopath", why on Earth would you feel comfortable leaving him to care for an elderly woman, money issues notwithstanding?
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My sister in law has complete care of my mother in law. My husbands feeling on this is that she have complete access to MIL’s funds as well. MIL is living in her home. With that, costs increase, groceries and heat and time spent caring for her. She deserves some benefit for how that disrupts her life. I don’t expect there to be anything left when my mother in law passes. My sister in law is a good person so I know she will do what’s right but her caring for MIL takes a huge burden from us and I appreciate it so we won’t micromanage what she does.
If your brother is not getting paid but lives there and helps and it keeps you from having to travel to help or trouble shoot then some usage of her funds for him is not unreasonable. If you have access to the account online I would open another account in your mother’s name not connected to the card and only keep household expenses + some fun money for him in the first account. The expenses will tell you how much she needs a month to live and how much he uses for himself. Then hold the difference aside for when your mom needs it for unexpected costs. That way he can’t spend everything down or take more than you allow. Just because a child is taking care of a parent does not mean it should be done for free.
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AudreyB4 Aug 31, 2020
Thanks for your reply.

I wish I could describe my brother as a good person. Someone with a job and a home that he could offer to our mom, someone I could trust with decision-making and money. You're very fortunate.

My mom's estate is quite small and will likely be exhausted by her needs as time goes by. The Parkinson's, the dementia and the falls all suggest she will need nursing home care in the near future.
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Appreciate your brother, and speak to him with appreciation when you have a financial discussion with him. Ask his opinion on what is needed, and what mom's expenses are. Take the approach that he is doing a great job, and that his time and care are valued.

Do you have monthly visits of several days' duration with your mom? That might help you better understand the situation and stay connected. Having your mom move in with you down the line might be much more challenging and time-consuming than you expect. You want the best for her, of course.

Where is the money coming from? Is there a high balance in the account, or is this coming in monthly for retirement? Are there minimum IRA distributions?

Rather than closing your mom's account or canceling the debit cards, you can open a new interest-bearing savings account with yourself and mom. You can then move funds over to cover future care, taxes, medical bills, and so forth. The expenses will go up, so start setting aside funds now.

Leave a generous monthly amount in the account to cover both your mom and your brother's expenses including extra discretionary funds. Get your brother's input on what is needed for the two of them. He will explain it, and he may come up with a relatively low amount.

Make sure he understands that the budget must cover the utilities (on auto-pay), property taxes and so forth as you determine. Then add a generous amount to that, and then let him continue to manage it and use the debit card. You should be able to monitor this by viewing the account, and by receiving notifications of withdrawls. Most debit cards will not work if there is no cash in the account. You can also choose to pay larger amounts like property tax out of the savings account.

This way your brother continues to manage and spend, but the budget is built in, and he will hopefully not feel micromanaged. You will also hopefully prevent a situation that screams distrust of your brother, which canceling the debit card would do. Keep the trust. You have a long road ahead.

Also--who is going to look after your brother when your mom is gone? Perhaps some planning should be done in that area too.

Best of luck with getting a smooth road in place.
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AudreyB4 Aug 31, 2020
Thanks for your reply.

Praise is very effective with my brother--I am trying hard to be as positive and respectful as I can be because I do truly appreciate what he does.

My mom hopes that I'll care for my brother after she's gone. She thinks I'm going to let him live with me.
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I am an at home caregiver for my mom. Last year one of my brothers accused me of financial elder abuse and I was investigated by the state. We had an accountant who was handling my mom’s accounts, but I have use of her debit card. The accountant and I had set up a small salary that I am paid every two weeks.

My brother was upset that I was being paid. Having a third party handling the finances is a good way to protect yourself and give your brother accountability. I have POA, so I was the one that had put all of this in place, but it has proven to be worth the extra expense.

What is your brother using the money for? Is he getting cash or buying groceries and supplies for your mom, or going out and using the money on himself?

I had instituted an envelope/ receipt system when I moved in with my mom full time and have one envelope for receipts for things directly related to mom’s care, one for mom’s personal use (hair dresser, take out, treats) and one of what my husband and I spend towards the up keep of the house and things we buy for mom. This system worked beautifully when I was being investigated bc I was able to produce all the receipts and my brothers and the investigator both were surprised where the “misused monies” actually went. It also helps a lot when it comes to tax time bc there were things that could be deducted we were unaware of for mom.

I would highly recommend doing a caregiver agreement with your brother which states how much he is supposed to stay with your mom a day.

Also, set up a salary for his services. I make $700 every two weeks, an amount I chose, and I am a 24/7 caregiver.

Also, work out a way to have someone come in for four or eight hours a week to stay with your mom to give your brother a designated time off.

This will make him feel both more accountable to your mother and reinforce that you appreciate what he is doing. Psychologically, this is a big deal to the caregiver.

No matter how you feel about your brother and his mental health there is a big impact and a major commitment on his part to follow your mother’s wishes. You are both part of team Mom, but it does sound like there are mechanisms that can be put into place to make it an even stronger team.
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AudreyB4 Aug 31, 2020
Thank you, Mary. Everyone has been so helpful!!
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Keep enough money in the account for your mom's needs, and any money you think the brother is welcome to use as the caregiver.

Open a second account for just you and your mom, and control that money. Deposit a set amount in the first account on a regular basis, and let your brother know what you are doing.

You are very lucky to have the brother there to help with your mother. Another solution would be to move your mother to your city rather than 300 miles away.
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AudreyB4 Aug 31, 2020
Thanks for your reply.

My son is getting married next month, so mom will stay with us for the occasion. We're hoping that her visit will make her want to stay. That would solve so many problems.
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You yourself describe him as a sociopath, so based on that info:
How you deal with your brother's theft depends on what you want the outcome to be. If he is allowed to siphon off money unabated then one day you'll open your mom's account to see $00.00 in it. Then you will be forced to be her caregiver no matter how ill or demented she becomes since her "gifting" him money may cause her to not qualify for Medicaid, just for starters.

One other thing to consider: he may easily have her create a new durable PoA assigning him instead of you. This happens all too often. Unless your mom has a medical diagnosis of cognitive impairment in her records right now, this is a real possibility. Then he will cut you out and off completely as he drains her accounts and robs her assets and then dumps her on your doorstep when her usefulness is over. I'd gather the evidence of your brother's theft and bring it to an attorney or detective and put a stop to this before it's too late. Changing accounts is not enough and will just tip him off. I'd show up unannounced in person to check out what's actually going on over there. Bring your PoA paperwork with you. FYI if you both work full-time you won't be the best care providers for your mom as she declines. But that's a discussion for another day. Deal with your brother first and firmly, for everyone's sake. Good luck!
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AudreyB4 Aug 26, 2020
Yikes--this is very helpful.
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I was POA and only caregiver of my mom. When mom died, I was devastated because I depended on her as much as she did to me.

When mom died, I really felt lost and abandoned, but considering her mind was gone eaten up with Alzheimer's and kept alive with a feeding tube (ironially she died of OTHER natural causes unrelated to Alzheimer's so she would have died just the same even if she were a normal person). Mom's skin was in perfect condition, and she died age 90. I was her life support for YEARS. My ENTIRE LIFE from the moment I woke up until it was time to put her to bed was centered on MOM. Not think I endured YEARS and YEARS and YEARS of this, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week--and not a single break. Ever.

The feeding tube was a LOT of work to keep clean and infection-free. I never had a problem with it. I knew how to take care of it. It spared mom from dying of dehydration, which is a barbaric process that can take weeks. Because of the feeding tube, mom was very comfortable to the end, and was the most peaceful death one could ever hope for. She was surrounded by love and I devoted every second to her. I cannot emphasize she was VERY HARD and stressful work. Alzheimer's is horrible, and she had it for 15 years.

When mom died I had to resume my life. That means finding work, resuming my education. I managed, but it was extremely difficult. Your brother REALLY will be better off NOT taking care of your mom. He is going to destroy his life, and from the sound of it may even incur legal charges by your hand--a record which will follow your brother for the rest of his life which his potential employers will see. So he will not be able to get a job and end up homeless. The charge will be elder abuse, and no employer will want him after that.

I hope your brother sees this and he better run away from this toxic arrangement and get his life together before it is too late! He seriously needs to get out of there. Since you are contemplating legal action against him--he needs to get out of this as fast as possible.
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AudreyB4 Aug 31, 2020
Thanks for your reply.

My husband's uncle had Alzheimer's and was cared for by his wife, who had been a nurse. It was incredibly stressful and exhausting for her--I cannot imagine what you went through. What a blessing for your mom that you were available and able to care for her.

I wish he could 'see' into the future, but his chronic unemployment suggest otherwise. If he *could* leave, my decisions would be much simpler.
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I’d monitor that POA and make sure it’s not changed by brother, stranger things have happened. How about setting up mom’s banking so that you can transfer money to her savings when it builds up to much at all so brother doesn’t get to spend a lot? You can set it up so that he can’t see what’s going on with savings or transfers. We have an adult son with a brain injury, he does work but has little understanding of money and using it wisely. I’m on his banking and regularly move money into his savings, he can’t see it. He happily debits wherever he goes, and can see his balance on his phone, but never has a lot to waste. If your brother is helping mom, using the debit card may be of benefit to you both, just needs to be overseen so the bulk of mom’s money is still there when she needs it
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AudreyB4 Aug 26, 2020
This is more or less what I'm doing. But it seems like whenever he sees money in there he thinks it's his.
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