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My husband has been taking financial advantage of my 89-year-old mother for nearly 15 years. When she moved into a senior community in 2005, we moved into her house as newlywed renters, paying a fraction of the market rate; it was purely a short-term arrangement. But one year became two, two became three, and on and on it went, despite my objections. Not only was my mother not being paid a fair rent, but in 2017 I learned that my husband stopped paying rent entirely many years earlier, and that my mother has had to deplete her savings to cover her own expenses. Her only income has been social security and a small monthly annuity payment. In keeping with the situation, the house has slid into deplorable condition due to huge deferred maintenance issues. There's more: in 2006 my husband convinced my mother to take out a $50,000 home equity loan so that he could pay down credit card debt, and over the years he would frequently ask her for smaller personal loans as tide-overs to the next paycheck. He always claimed to be on the brink of a financial/professional breakthrough (he's a scholar/university lecturer) and for a long time I believed he would eventually make things right. But that was a forlorn optimism. I've confronted him numerous times about these matters but he invariably becomes defensive, dismissive, tries to shift blame onto me, makes a swift exit.


My mother now has advanced dementia. In January I was shocked to learn that my husband is 1) successor trustee of her trust and 2) a 40% beneficiary of her trust. I can only imagine that he exerted major undue influence on her while the trust was being set up. In fact, he accompanied her to the meetings with the estate planning attorney. We had only been married a year at that time and my mother knew him only on a surface level.


I've been actively distressed about the exploitation for the past three years but lacked the confidence and courage to expose it. My husband has a strong support network of friends and colleagues and would be an unpleasant opponent. I'm an only child with no other living relatives to turn to. I no longer have funds of my own to afford an attorney. I sent the estate lawyer a letter asking for help but she refuses to get involved. I don't know a way forward.

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You can remain in a marriage with a con-man or you can protect your mother from him. Your husband committed the crime of Elder Financial Abuse against your mother.
https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/prosecutors/statutes?field_statute_state=MD&field_statute_category=All

You can choose to enable his criminal behavior with your silence or you can report him and divorce him. I don't see a middle ground.
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NightReader, what do you want the outcome to be? Divorce? If that isn't part of the outcome then I don't know what to suggest to you. He's counting on you being passive and intimidated. Please internalize this: if he did this to your mother, he WILL do it to you, too. So you've really got nothing to lose by opening up a can of whup-ass on him. He's a sick creep no matter how good his exterior looks to the world or what his "strong support network" may be. Are you willing to spend the rest of your life with such a d-bag? You're worth more than that. Find a good divorce lawyer and get a consult. Don't tell d-bag man anything. Let him be completely blindsided until the day you remove his crap from your home. If you rise up to challenge him with some shock and awe, he might sh1t his pants and give up easier than you think. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Bottle that energy and channel it into gaining a new, better life.
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gdaughter Jul 31, 2020
She doesn't have the funds for a "good" divorce lawyer. I would contact your local United Way, the library, your local agency on aging. I would contact a local abused women's shelter sort of place as they may know some good resources and even be able to provide some housing or lead you in the direction of that if you want it. Legal Aid is another resource...there are many programs cropping up that would look into it for the exploitation of your mother.
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My marriage ended 6 years ago. One of the hardest things for me to accept is that I was an abused wife. I was not physically abused, but I soon learned there were many types of abuse and I was victim to several of them. It was very, very hard. I thought I was strong, I was a hard worker, I had been in a prior relationship where the one and only time he hurt me I walked.

Financial Abuse, you say, "I no longer have funds of my own to afford an attorney..." Where has your money gone? Are you working? Most credible family law attorneys will give you a free consultation.

You apparently know nothing about your family's finances, otherwise you would have know long ago about your hub's actions. I was in the same boat. My ex was supposed to pay the bills and mortgage, I paid the school fees, all child expenses and groceries. After the end of the marriage I all my utilities were cut off as he had not paid them in 5 months. The mortgage was paid 2-3 days late each and every payment. The property taxes were in arrears too. I was scared silly with only $500 in the bank.

At one point my ex would not get a copy of the family car key for me. Kept saying it was too expensive to order one in. Turned out it was not one of the special keys and it cost $5 to get a copy. Little things that seem reasonable for a while start to add up.

Is there a local Women Against Violence Against Women organization in your community? I was able to get free counseling from the local one and it was a huge help. Is there a woman's shelter in your town?

Gaslighting: This is what he is doing when he tries to shift the blame.

My ex was well loved in the community. But when things came to light, some people's feelings changed too. If you hubs does not have tenure, he could find his contracts are no longer renewed.

Next steps:
Get a free legal consult
Get counseling
Get a job, if you do not have one.
Get your own bank account if you do not have one
Contact your local APS and explain the situation to them, but do this after talking to the lawyer.
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There are some people, alas, who are so frightening to their partners that they've no real need to be visibly abusive. The victim is so thoroughly in thrall that there's no occasion for it.

For YEARS, you have known that your husband has been - there's no way round this - stealing from your mother. You have been too apprehensive about his response to tackle the issue in any meaningful way.

You need to get help for yourself, first. Look online for domestic abuse helplines and speak to an adviser. Just take the first step.

In not very much time, I wouldn't be at all surprised if you find out that quite a lot of people in that "strong network" wish they could confront your husband about quite a variety of issues. Think of yourself as a whistle-blower.
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Before you can even think of protecting your mother you must protect yourself from further abuse. And yes, you’re abused. You’ve lived in fear and intimidation and that’s not a marriage. Please consult a lawyer, one known as a bulldog for women’s rights, and do so without your husband’s knowledge. Tell your story, see how to protect yourself. Then you’ll find the path forward to protecting your mother. I’m glad you’re now seeing things clearly enough to have reached out for help. Don’t assume your husband is fooling everyone. Keep quiet to him while you find your next steps. Keep us posted, you’ve found a group who cares
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Long before you seek a divorce attorney, you NEED to consult with a criminal attorney. You say this has been going on for years - however reluctant you might have been, however hesitant, however intimidated you felt by your husband and his behavior. you lived with your husband in your mom's house with him while he swindled her out of money; therefore, unfortunately, you have gained from his criminal behavior. Legally, you are complicit. The court system is not going to take "I was scared of him" as a defense, because, in their thinking, there are services you can avail yourself of to help you get away from him. I understand in the real world, this is not done as easily as said, but from a criminal justice point of view that doesn't matter. Depending on your jurisdiction, you might not even be covered under spousal privilege - ie. not being compelled to testify against him - but again, a criminal attorney would be able to better guide you.
You need to protect your mom; but you also need to protect yourself.
The divorce attorney can wait. Seek a criminal attorney A.S.A.P.
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Geaton777 Jul 30, 2020
I'm trying to imagine the OP living in the same home while taking Creepo to criminal court. I disagree and (if it were me) think divorce comes first, or maybe simultaneously, to the criminal charge pursuit. The hard boundary needs to be drawn immediately and his access to the OP needs to be severely restricted.
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In our city, there is at the senior centers, local library and county library an attorney day each month.

Talk to an attorney about elder abuse regarding the debt owed to your mother that you described above: fair market value rent, personal loans, and trust beneficiary, successor trustee status. Is there a power of attorney or will? If your mother has legal capacity even with dementia she can sign a new power of attorney.

Long ago as a young mother I did not know that my ex was friendly with my mother without my knowledge and borrowing money from her. He claimed that we were having difficulty paying bills due to my stay at home status. That was not true as I had savings and planned for the year off. It was probably one of the worst experiences in my life to discover my ex taking money just not from my mother but my best friend with the same sympathy story. The floor dropped beneath me but through the confusion I just left. I paid his rent until the court made the decision so he would have a roof over his head so he could parent our child. I ended up with full custody and protected my mother and friend from further financial abuse. My ex was looking to exploit anyone in my network of friends or family and moved onto someone new quickly.

I hope you find strength and take care of yourself through your ordeal. Please do the right thing.
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And be sure to log off this forum every time! U don’t want him to know u r onto him and seeking advice!
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jkm999 Jul 29, 2020
And erase your browser history! Best to use a browser like Chrome that has an incognito mode and doesn't retain your history.
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Well.... I was married to a con man for 17 years but he did work. So.. I planned... and told him nothing. I used HIS money to fix up "our" house even though he said that since he was the ONLY one working, everything was his. I got the house fixed up and he had no idea why I was doing it. Me and twins did most of the work. The price on the house went up $20,000 while I only spent $2000. But... while fixing it up, since I had no income of my own, I went to Legal Aid. Cost me $130 for a divorce. Legal Aid even told me I could get the house in my name and my name only and then do with it what I wanted. I had tried reasoning with this man but he would not listen. I went to marital counseling and tried to get him to go. Nope... he was NOT interested. I still do not understand how I could get that house that he had bought 2 years before he met me... into my name only. I put it up for sale and it was closed on in less than 4 months. In the mean time, during those 4 months, my kids and I went camping so he would not know where we were. The whole time, we used his money. He could not take my name from his checking account. After the divorce went through, kids I moved to another state. He followed us there. He told me this more than once and I believe it to be true in your case, "I never thought you would divorce me". Your husband thinks that he can do what he wishes because it is evident that he has been for many years. BUT... you can still change that. Please.... divorce him BUT do NOT tell him what you are up to. I did not. My husband was abusive to me and the children. He threatened me, never hit me but he did our son --- hitting and kicking him. We have twins, a boy and girl and now they are grown, 32, and they see who he is. They do not have a relationship with their father to speak of. He caused huge problems for my son on his wedding day. THAT just opened up our son's eyes even more to the selfish ways of his dad. Yep... I take full responsibility for marrying the man but... I finally divorced him. YOU can do the same. The sooner the better. But again... do it without him knowing about it as much as possible. You are NOT obligated to tell him any more than you have to. He obviously believes that you will not do anything. Prove him wrong. Hugs to you.. Wish I could help you...

Also... what about getting APS involved.... Adult Protective Services?
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You can play the helpless act but I’m not buying it. You are just as much to blame. Both of you should be reported for financial exploitation of the elderly.
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Countrymouse Jul 31, 2020
May you never know different.
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