I have shared a house with my mother and step-father for the past 20 years. My mom passed five years ago, but our living arrangements stayed the same. Currently, my step-father, husband, daughter, grandson, and I share the house. My step-father has a biological daughter who lives 7 hours away.

My problem right now is my step-father seems to feel the household account money is being mismanaged. I have not deviated from the way the account was handled when my mom handled the account or the way she instructed me to handle the account when she became too ill to manage the account.

What has changed is my step-father's employment status. Two years ago, it became apparent he needed to retire from his job as a physician. Unfortunately, he never saved any money. Currently, his entire income is my mother's pension check and his Social Security. My husband and my circumstances also changed as we both retired. I took another full-time job, and my husband took a part-time job. We have assumed additional responsibility for the household accounts. However, my step-father seems to find fault with everything. Quite frankly, the bills could easily be paid with what is received through my mother's pension (which was her wish). However, he removes almost half of that pension and puts it into a private savings account. He does not have to touch his SSI...but, again, he takes most of it and puts it into a private savings account.

We attempted to get him to visit a financial consultant when he retired so he would have some additional interest income. Instead, he just bought gold...and has it stored around various places in the house. I know he is frustrated that my husband and I have some flexibility in our income...but we DID visit a financial consultant upon retirement to receive advice as we still had one daughter in college and are also helping our other daughter who is a single parent raise her son.

My step-father often grows frustrated when he sees a balance under $1000 in the household checking...but he has already removed money from it. He also frequently gives my step-sister $800-$1000 every three or four months in addition to giving her a vehicle.

Honestly, I could handle the money if it weren't for 1) his questioning on how the money is spent...even though I have offered to turn over that entire process to him so he could track the expenditures himself; and 2) his calling his daughter constantly to complain how low on funds he is. He is NOT low on funds...he's just not as high as he would like to be when he was in medical practice.

This balancing act is difficult. My step-father has been a part of my familiy since I was over 40 years. Until after my mother passed, I didn't really think of him so much as a "step." But after my mother passed, there seems to be this division to which his biological daughter adds. As I said, my step-father had to step away from his medical practice. His health was failing and mistakes were being made. I lived in fear he was going to commit an egregious malpractice error...and he, in fact, just avoided litigation for malpractice. I was very upset with my step-sister, because that particular situation could have been avoided had he retired as had been arranged. I was out of the country when she came back to our home and decided "Daddy will just be so lonesome and without purpose" if he wasn't practicing. So she hired a receptionist and my step-father continued to practice...for two weeks when he had no office nurses and had to do all the vitals and charting himself. My daughter ended up closing out the practice...and my step-sister offered to do nothing to help close out the practice. It was frustrating...and, as I said, during that two weeks he was accused of misdiagnosing a patient which resulted in unnecessary lawyer's fees.

I'm concerned, because right now, no one has POA. I do have control over most finances and the house where we reside will TOD to me.

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So step dad supports your daughter and her son? You stated you do not ask your daughter for any rent money so who pays her share for herself and her child? Food, utilities, home and auto insurance? Health insurance? Does your daughter have health insurance for herself and her son?

Maybe step-dad is correct - there is a discrepancy in who pays what. And if what you say is true about him giving his daughter money, I wouldn’t even go there. It’s none of your concern.

In reality what you are doing for your daughter & grandson is what you are chastising your step-dad for doing for his daughter. I wouldn’t be too quick to judge him as you are doing the same thing.

Why do you call mom’s money (her pension)? It belongs to your stepfather.

If if I were you I would move out. The house may not have a mortgage but it is an old house and the cost of repairs are astronomical. I wouldn’t invest $ in its upgrading. It will become a money pit.

And your daughter should try to get a job to support herself and her child so she can contribute. She is not paying into SS for herself and will end up depending on you and her father forever and eventually end up being dependent on the system when her parents have passed. It’s not fair she pays nothing but provides cooking and housekeeping. Many single mothers work. She doesn’t pay for groceries either?

I see some discrepancies in the distribution of responsibilities with your set up.

Are you on the deed? As far as POA his daughter may have it for him.

Therefore stepdad may have valid concerns about the household budget. It sounds as if since your mom passed you are looking at him differently; more like an outsider. I think this may stem from your thinking that mom’s pension should pay all your bills which didn’t occur. That money is your father’s. Did your mother write her wishes out in a will? I bet there is no written documentation of her wishes
stating mom’s pension should go to house expenses as I am thinking your mother would not do that to her husband.

He should be paying 1/5th, you & husband, daughter & granddaughter should be paying 4/5, fwiw.

Just because there is no mortgage doesn’t mean there aren’t expenses. Everyone should pull their (and their child’s) weight. Your daughter will never go out on her own with this arrangement. Why should she? She is living there free.

I’m sorry but it appears to me that stepdad is being manipulated into paying more than his share.
Helpful Answer (6)
ruthie1460 Aug 2019
My daughter has a FT job. She pays into SS and her and her son’s medical insurance. She also does all the cooking and cleaning of the house. In addition, she’s working on her Master’s. She was a vet who had PTSD. He was both mentally and physically abusive to her which is why she moved back home. Don’t assume we are all just living off my step-dad.
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Are you comingling funds? You shouldn't do this. Its going to cause problems if Dad ever needs Medicaid.

I think you need to sit down with everyone and go over finances. You all should be paying towards the bills. There r five of you. You take your bills and divide by five. Dad should be paying 1/5 of the bills. You, DH, daughter and I am assuming her son should pick up the other 4/5ths. With everyone working, you should have no problems.
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But Dad should only be paying for a 5th of the bills.

This would be fair for him and probably reduce a lot of stress and feelings of being taken advantage of.

Maybe revisiting the situation and how everything is split would put this all to bed.

You need to not worry what he does for his daughter. Guaranteed to create a problem.

You say the house is transferred on death, you say you upgraded the house and now it is in need of expensive maintenance. Yes, houses are expensive to own. But is your name on anything, deed, title, property taxes? Because this could be a problem if he gets a wild Hare and decides to change his will or TOD.

The money from your mom's pension belongs to her spouse, his Ss belongs to him, you need to change your mindset that this is your moms money. It is not.

Him and his wife paid for half the house and it is 4 to 1 for living there, I am sure he thinks that he is paying more than his fair share, please revisit how the household expenses are split and see how much easier he becomes to live with.
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I see (even more) trouble ahead. You have a FT job now, and your has a PT job. What happens if your stepfather becomes immobile? There won't be 3 adults around at all times for him. I have the feeling he wouldn't agree to in-home caregiving. Am I right? With his health issues, further incapacity could happen at any time. And then what?

If you didn't know your stepfather until you were 16, you'd already done a lot of growing up by that time. And now he's showing favoritism towards his bio daughter? She's getting a good deal, isn't she? You do all the caregiving work, and she doesn't have to live with her father.

So what to do? Like others have already suggested, MOVE OUT. Think of ways you can get the money back that you put into the house. Does your stepfather have assets other than the house? How much is in these "private accounts"? Can you prove the $ you put into the house and when you paid off half the mortgage?

The commingling of funds is concerning. I'd try to extricate myself from that situation. What if he needs Medicaid? I hope you aren't pledging to do whatever it takes to help him stay on this site what happens when caregivers honor that pledge and destroy their own lives in the process.
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I am very confused. Normally when a spouse dies the finances are in the hands of his or her spouse, not a child of one or the other. I myself would move out and leave him on his own, with his own and his wife's monies, which I agree with him, should be his, not "household money" and the home his, not the home of everyone else as well. So that is me, and how I understand it. How it would be for me. If family were to live with me in my home I would not expect them to live rent free. I would expect them to pay me. And I would be saving for my last years so I could afford to spend to stay in my home. I would not expect family to manage my finances, and I would not be dependent on them for anything.
I may have misunderstood how this whole thing is working, but looks like everyone is living with step Dad and step Grand dad, and expecting him to pay for a house full of people out of Grandma's pension, which by law should now be his.
Again, I could have got this all confused: I do so often nowadays.
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worriedinCali Aug 2019
I don’t think you got it all confused because I came to the same conclusion as you.
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If step Dad retired because he was incapable mentally or physically of continuing to work and you are his caregiver (or with 3 adults besides step-Dad there - someone is available to assist him - take him to appointments - fix meals - housekeeping, etc.) then paying his paying household bills in lieu of paying for your services is fine. (If you agree - being a full time caregiver is worth more than any amount of household bills as far as I am concerned) If he can see to himself - then you and family should equally share expenses with him (1/5 or whatever for each person in house) Going forward you need a separation of monies. If he needed Medicaid your current arrangement could keep him from getting help. Your Mom's pension is his - and his portion of expenses plus paying for a caregiver comes from that and any money he has. Better you and family pay 1/5 and then get paid for caregiving if necessary. Make a clear paper trail - sound like bio daughter may come after "her share" (which it looks like she is all take and no give). If nothing in writing (POA, title to house, trust, will, etc.) re house etc - you and family could be out the door with bio daughter getting everything.
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ruthie1460 Aug 2019
Thanks for understanding (and really helping me understand) the source of my frustration. Of course, we are willing to do the caregiving. It’s my step-father’s desire to remain at home...and unless he would become completely immobile, we can deal with that. But it is mentally snd physically taxing. Then being hit with juggling money because of an unexpected withdrawal was kind if the straw that broke the camel’s back. In the moment it just felt so dismissive.

Im more settled now. We’ve adjusted our personal finances, and it’s all good.

But thanks for not assuming we were a family of deadbeats living off my step-dad.
Household expenses should be divided by number of people who live there. Your mom's retirement was actually left to him as being her husband, so just because it may have been used to run the house in the past doesn't really matter now. You should have enough records to figure out what it costs to manage the household bills. If there is a mortgage, that should be included (you'd have to pay that or rent elsewhere). That amt of money should go into a single pot of money and bills paid from it - no draws out of the account. If it builds a little excess, leave it to use for unexpected higher than normal bills.

Then every one keeps what they have over and above the amount they put in the bill paying pot - do whatever you want with it. He can save his, give it away (although that will come back to penalize him when/if he needs to go to the nursing home...and I would make notes of what you know he gives away to anyone). Should he need in-home care, that will come out of his non-household income.

Whose name is on the house? His and your mom?? Or all of you? Does he have a will to determine who is going to end up with the house? If you are going to benefit from the house, in the end, you would also need to share in expenses for repairs. Regardless how long you have lived there, if you have no legal tie to the house, your family needs to be thinking about a plan B
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Whose name is on the deed to the house? Why is everybody living together for this long, assuming you were living there when your Mom was alive? Do you have equity in a house? There are too many questions here. Can’t figure out true circumstances.
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I am honing in on the house. You stated you sold your house and spent the money on fixing up your parents house. Are you on the deed? Was there any kind of legal paperwork that shows you get the money back if the house is sold or what you spent on the house? For your sake I hope so. If not you might want to see an attorney ASAP.
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It is not your fault that as a physician, he didn't save money properly. You have too much responsibility falling on your shoulders as you had to seek out full time employment.
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