My sister suffered a brain injury about 10 years ago while trying to give birth. My mother and I provide care for her, but my niece (her child) acts out, My mother (who is elderly and has many physical problems of her own) and I are both burned out and I feel like all three of them are taking their frustrations out on me. What really bother's me is that I'm the main family member that helps all three of them yet they take their anger out on me. Some days I get so tired that I fell like just walking away. I even tried to find a higher paying job so I could move out of my sister home. Is their anything I can do to help all of us cope with our situation better?


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First, the Trustee issue. Is this a Special needs Trust? Is the Trustee the attorney who drafted the trust? Who signed on behalf of your sister?

That raises another question: do you have a durable power of attorney for her, or is she able to handle her own affairs?

Trustees generally need to account annually for all their actions. Has he provided you with an annual accounting of funds disbursed?

If the Trustee is not handling the Trust properly and is breaching his fiduciary duties, and is an attorney, you can file a complaint with the state bar grievance committee. State bars usually have ethics committees as well, if his misdeeds don't amount to grievances.

With whom was the contract written? With you, your sister or your mother? If it was a proper contract, you would have termination rights, generally for specified defaults and often without a specific cause (termination at will).

If he's breached the contract, you would have legal recourse against him, but suing him would be like trying to wrestle with a shark. He would likely know all the litigation tricks; you wouldn't.

Prepare a list of the Trustee's misdeeds and document what he does that isn't appropriate. You may want to seek legal help to terminate the contract and remove him as Trustee.

Trustees are ultimately responsible to the person for whom the trust was created. If he's not, and is angry with you, it's time to find someone who is. Check the language of the Trust to see what it provides in terms of Trustee removal.

Second, perhaps you could explain to your niece that what happened to your sister wasn't her fault and that your sister is in effect taking care of her by asking you to stand in for her. So it could be considered that she has two moms. She can tell that to the kids at school, as I suspect they're teasing her about her situation. Kids can be so cruel.

If they are, see if you can talk to one of the counselors or social worker; perhaps something can be worked into the homeroom period or in some way addressed to the other kids so they understand their behavior isn't appropriate. If they are teasing her, it may fall under the bullying category, which schools are supposed to address before it becomes a problem.

Third, the blame against you instead of her father is because (1) you're there physically, and (2) is a redirection of her dissatisfaction with her father's disappearance. You didn't do anything to chase him away. Point out that you had her best interests in mind with the FOC action to ensure that your sister received child support funds to which she's entitled.

I think weekly family meetings are an excellent idea!
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I would alert the school to your niece's frustration, often they can arrange in school counseling on a regular basis. It would truly help her.
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Thank you both for your insight. I think I will suggest that we start having family meetings at least once a week to address any issues we are having with each other. Listing the different situations that frustrate us is a great way to find out were it starts so I can find out what we can do to resolve it. My sister has Medicare but not Medicaid because of spend down rule they have. She also receives Disability benefits. But because of what happened in the hospital to my sister we are a little afraid of having someone else step in and look after her while we are away. However, we are looking into some companies to provide reprise care so we can take a break at least a few hours a week. However, there are other people involved that complicates matters. She has a trust that can pay for her services like reprise care and occupational therapy, but there is a trustee that is giving the entire family a difficult time. The worst part is that he's not suppose to be the trustee in the first place. He used his position and our trust in him as a professional to gain the position as trustee for one year and he has been causing all types of problems every since. He was suppose to step down in one year, even wrote a contract saying that he would but he never did. He's even angry with us for fighting back to protect my sister and her daughter. I believe he is a big factor of everyone's frustration and burnout.

Her daughter will be 10 yrs in August. I talked to her about her behavior and she told me once that she blames us because her dad was absent from her life. I explained to her that we wanted her dad to be in her life, he just disappeared for years. She recently started to communicate with him again but I had to talk her into getting to know him better and because I made a complaint to the Friend of the court. She also stated that her mom is "suppose to take care of me". and that "all the other kids at school have their mom". So I think your right and that she angry at her mom and takes it out on us.

Thank you again for your help.
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It sounds like you need some new skills for dealing with the situation. When they lash out at you, you can just say you'll take it under consideration, and then you'll want to try and find a resource outside the family, such as calling a hotline, for someone to talk to who is well-trained in coaching folks through this type of thing. It can help you with your peace of mind as well as easing the family tensions.
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Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.

Try to identify the situations that produce frustration and list them.

Sometime when everyone is calm, or maybe after a Sunday dinner, sit down with everyone and acknowledge that you're all frustrated but that taking it out on each other only compounds the problem. If you acknowledge that you too are frustrated and emphasize that you're all in this together, sometimes people will back down and see that you seriously want to create solutions.

Tell them you've identified situations that produce frustration...what do the others have to suggest to work around those issues, or address them in a way that turns them into positive rather than negative encounters.

It's not an easy challenge, but it might get everyone thinking rather than arguing.

And every time someone takes out hostility on you, ask them what changes she would make so that she doesn't become angry. You then shift the burden to her.

If someone's going to complain, then that someone needs to be able to step up and offer potential solutions.

In the meantime, think of your own solutions for the situations that predict frustration. And if your sister isn't getting disability, check that out.

Her daughter may be angry at her mother, without realizing it, because her mother can't care for her, so she takes it out on you as the substitute. How old is the daughter? if she's a teenager, that complicates the issues.
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Unfortunately it's common for the caregiver or the person closest to get the brunt of the anger and frustration. Not that that makes it right.

Your sister should be receiving social security and Medicaid. You should be able to get some outside help. Have you looked into this?

You need some time away. Maybe not weeks or even days but a few hours here and there. We can't change other people's behavior but we can change our own. I hope you look into respite for yourself.
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