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Ok. My father passed a few months back. Step mom in declining health but ok. Lives alone but soon will need much more care. I've noticed a lot of secret conversations and code talking when I am around mom and sister and brother in law. I did ask if she had power or attorney or signing on checking account and she said no. But I did find where she has had a credit card for years that my dad paid each month. Also finding out about cars, gifts, etc..etc... paid to them and grandkids. I assume everything from dad went to step mom but there has been nothing official and when I ask cautiously I am brushed aside. I am definitely not the dominant one in the family. My feelings lead me to believe that they have been siphoning money from them for years under pretext of not working and financially strained. Now I feel they have somehow turned my step mom against me as it relates to finances. I am the one that drops everything to travel 2hrs to help her when needed for doctors visits but then told they have it under control when all is calm. I am not money hungry but I have been shafted several times and just want to know where we all stand. I also want to know and make them accountable with my dads money. I feel as though they will get my step mom to just rehearse something to me so I don't want to approach her. I know if I get tough and approach others it will certainly strain relations. Don't I have a right to know? Do I have any legal grounds should it get there to demand an audit back x number of years to see what money was there and what is there now? What if they did get POA but it was abused? Who would decide that?

I know this is a book but I am just trying to get some solid understanding on matters. thanks

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I would assume that the only route is through legal litigation, by way of a lawyer sending a formal letter requesting the information.

Just be sure to keep things as friendly as possible and what you hope for afterwards, and why you want the information and what you need it for.

Dad's wishes etc. Peace of mind.

Also include your friendly attempts for this information before resorting to a lawyer.

It's a letter and not Court, so it shouldn't be massively costly.
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The first thing I would like to say is that before posting a comment, PLEASE, for the love of all things that are good in this world, spell check or proof read your comment. (To be clear, this is not directed at the OP, it is directed toward those who post comments.) It is very frustrating to try to read a comment with numerous misspelled words, run on sentences that don't start with capital letters or end with periods, and terrible grammar mixed in with both of those. Sometimes it is impossible to figure out what the comment even says.

Having said that, it amazes me what families turn into when there is money involved. When your father died, did you question the will at that time? I agree that all of the assets/money probably went to your step mother. All of the other stuff that happened really has nothing to do with the money after he died---he had been paying the credit card when he was alive, gave cars & gifts when he was alive. Whatever the reason was, unemployment or financial strain, your father did those things voluntarily, and confidentially. It is/was really none of your business what your father gave your sister/BIL, or under what pretext. Your statement of being "shafted" several times without any examples certainly suggests a "money hungry" attitude.

If all the money went to your step mother, she doesn't have to be accountable to you or anyone else, or explain how she is spending her money. If she wants to give all her money to your sister/BIL/grandchildren, that is her prerogative & there is nothing you can do about it. You don't say anything about being concerned that she won't have enough money for her own care or what she is going to do when she requires more care. You certainly didn't say anything about the possibility of her coming to live with you when she requires more care. Your post focuses on your father's money, which is now your step mother's money, and that fact that you didn't get any of it.

If you want to know about your father's will, what happened to all of the assets when he died, who is writing checks & how the money is being spent, go directly to your step mother and ask her. I would suggest that you consider how you'd word your questions----something like "I am concerned for your future and if you have enough money for your own care as you get older. Have you consulted with anyone to plan for that? Do you have a financial plan in place for when that happens? Have you appointed a POA to handle your money in the case you aren't able to?" How much money she has, how much money was left to her by your father, how much your father gave to your sister/BIL/grandchildren should not be part of that conversation, because it really is none of your business.

If you want to know how much your father gave your sister/BIL/grandchildren, that is an entirely different conversation. Be prepared to be told that it is none of your business, to buzz off or be completely ignored. That conversation is one that comes from a place of "You got more than me & I didn't get my share, so I want to even things up". That is a B-A-D thing to do. You don't know what your sister/BIL/grandchildren's financial situation was when your father gave them money, cars, gifts, etc., so it is not your place to judge.

The answer to your question "Don't I have a right to know?" is NO, you don't have a "right" to know anything. If your father & MIL intended for you to know what was going on with their finances, they would have made that clear by including you----but they didn't. I think that is what you should be questioning---why you weren't included in the financial planning from the beginning.
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To the commentor with the $400.00/month pharm bill, you might wish to compare what you are paying to what the exactly same prescriptions (same strength, same form, same number in the prescription) provided when you use GoodRX. It costs nothing to get to use their services, you don't have to be any kind of member or pay any fee, and yet - my own personal drugs are significantly less expensive than when I was paying the co-pay with my insurance company. Take a look online and see if this might help you. (PS: I do not work for GoodRX, nor have any type of relationship with them - just a citizen who takes a few prescribed drugs every day.)
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RatherBeFishing---yes, she has a right to her privacy unless she is NOT the beneficiary or executor of his will. If what she is doing is illegal, then she has NO right to keep her step- daughter excluded from her dad's intentions.
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DavidW63 My point was that if the Step mother has instructed that her financial affairs are private even from family it is her right. If there is a question about a the fathers will then that is open for all to see and read. Oh and yes my response is definitely colored by my experience as most of our answers are.
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RatherBeFishing---I found your answer to be judgmental and rude. It seems as if you made assumptions based on your own issues and anger at your sibling. Flgettingolder certainly has a right to know what her dad's intentions were. Did he leave a will, or appoint an executor? If she was named as executor and has not been informed so the others could live off his inheritance, then she needs to know to correct the situation. If he had a bequest he left for another or an organization of money, stocks, items, memorabilia and the step-mom and others are living off or hoarding those, she needs to know. No one knows whether he left his estate to his wife or not. That can't be assumed. It is not wrong to want to know the whole situation and it doesn't make her a greedy pariah. Next time, please take your anger somewhere else instead of dumping it on someone who got up the courage to write in about a genuine concern.
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Mother passed away 1mo ago. Dad 1yr before. Dad gave younger sister to care for all financial. Pay taxes in home utilities care for mother needs. Mother was left with retirement. Funds.. She opened her own bank acct. Well. Mother diagnosed w/ skin cancer. Sisters put her on chem.she got worst they never told me any of mothers health issues. Well. Lil sis never took care of her.. Carol 2nd sister took mither to care for her at her house.. Mother was having anxiety attacks from chemo meds?? She didnt trust sister felt that she was begin given other meds!! Like posion.. I 2nd daug came from out of town nd heloed to care for her.. Sister wasnt giving mother meds at the same time.. Anyway. She got mother to sign for a new car note. new brand new living room.. Mother was not in her right mind . although.. Lil sis paid all bills but never told us how many was spent she has access to acct. Other sister took over debit bank cards.. Credit cards.. I was never told of anything.. Nor our brothers.. Im sure. The car was paid off once mother passed.. Now.. We want answers.. And they only gives us a few answers.. I need help to investigation this bros are with me in this.. Please help..
Thxs
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Another person you can hire is a PI. A private investigator can also help you investigate things. If you find someone was in the wrong, you can go after them but you need cold hard evidence. Presenting proof is in your favor. Make sure you get copies of every document you collect because if this goes to court you're definitely going to need it. If the party is investigated and found guilty, your lawyer can put a lien on the house if they own one. Another thing your lawyer can put a lien on is cars and bank accounts, this can be done in stealth mode if the lawyer investigates and finds the person did something wrong. If the person tries to hide their ass that's right around the time the wrong was done, it can be overturned and they can go to prison. Trying to hide assets and elude the law by illuminating an investigation and prosecution is a crime that can send someone to prison for a very long time. Definitely go after that can send someone to prison for a very long time. Definitely go after them and don't back down, make them pay for what they did and make them make restitution. Not punishing a crime only enables the criminal to get away with it which enables them to continue targeting others, and you never know who the next victim will be
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Oh yes, check probate to see if there's an estate open, and if there's not, open one immediately. I never knew until recently that you're allowed to open an estate for someone else until I myself faced my own dilemma. I always thought you had to open your own estate ahead of time, I never knew you were actually allowed to open one for someone else to actually subpoena records for starters. Another thing you'll definitely need is to see if there was a will.
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It sounds to me like you definitely need a lawyer from your description. You mentioned your siblings being very evasive, which means something happened or is going on that needs to stop. Yep, something shady is definitely going on or they wouldn't be acting like they're hiding something. If they have nothing to hide, they would talk. Since they have something to hide, they're being evasive, big red flag somethings going on or has happened. Get a lawyer now!
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First of all, be aware that things like this happen over and over again and it is horrible but a true fact. My suggestions are as follows: First, attempt once more to sit down with ALL of your family members and attempt to get the details out into the open. Know, however, this may not work and you may get nowhere. Second, contact the local Office on Aging (each state and county has one, I believe.) Third, if you still do not get anywhere or can't find out anything, then you may have to contact an attorney. Try contacting one who will take the case on a contingency basis (you pay fees upon settlement) or at least will give you a free consultation. Be sure they are highly skilled in elder care law. It is possible that your parent did NOT want YOU to be involved or inherit or whatever. If it ends up in an attorney's hands, it will cost something and the odds are you will have an alienation from your family members if they have been reaping the benefits. So YOU must decide what is most important to YOU. Also try contacting AARP for legal advice as they handle senior issues in this country. Good luck. Remember, sometimes it is better to take a loss and walk away as opposed to remaining "close" to people who are not truly worth it.
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Talk to an elder lawyer. The first visit is usually free.
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I am POA for my mother and have a sister who has always tried to manipulate money and property out of our parents. When Dad was alive she didn't succeed however when Mom was alone she managed to steal anything she could get her hands on to sell on ebay. After Mom's major stroke and moving her to live with me I found that she was still getting mom to send her money. Here I am scraping together money to pay out over $400 a month for Rx's to help our mother and she is taking money that is intended to buy groceries for our mother. Now I am very jaded when I hear of siblings that are so concerned that they get their piece of the pie even when their is NO inheritance until someone dies. Your step mother is alive and is entitle to her income. If she is relying on other children to help her it is her choice. She may have directed them that her finances are private and not to discuss them with you. It sounds like you are looking for what you feel is yours. I don't really detect concern for her well being. Since I am living with this situation with a sister who is greedy and self absorbed I question peoples intentions other than jealousy and greed. If you are truly concerned ask you step mother. However be prepared to not be given an answer or be told it is private and not for discussion.
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I don't know your legal rights, but everything depends on how your father and step-mother set up their estates. Seems to me that information would have been made public after your Dad passed. I'd assume all their combined assets are left for your step-mom's care until she dies. That money can go quickly if she will need assisted living down the line.
My husband and I have 5 children combined from previous marriages. We've been married now some 30 years. At age 84 he's under hospice care and I am his fulltime care-giver. When he passes, his 2 biological kids and brother will divide a $100,000 investment account that's been set aside for them. We haven't shared that arrangement with them because years ago at a family meeting we brought up the topic. They concluded somehow that they would receive that money right after that meeting, and they've been angry ever since.
I've been told to manage our finances assuming I'll live to be 100. I'm 80 now. If any money remains in 20 yrs when I die, it's to be divided equally among our 5 children. So it seems to me you might ask the sibling you're closest to their info about your Dad's estate plans. Prepare to be called greedy. To take care of yourself, expect to receive nothing.
I took my brother to court about this when our mother died. It became a multi-year emotional drain. Most of Mom's $ went to lawyers and I received some $7000. It wasn't worth the emotional strain, because I ended up sick and the chase kept my adrenaline high all those months.
Best of luck. Try to build the best possible life for yourself with your own resources.
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When I was administering my MIL accounts EVERYTHING was transparent. Spreadsheets were sent to all, everyone has the password to the bank account. I answered all emails promptly. Ask for the same. Anything less, get a lawyer immediately and have the family estate reimburse you for cost.
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Sad to say, if they are taking advantage of Mom and she is not mentally incompetent, there's not much you can do as long as she allows it--other than talk to her and them about it. If she is incompetent, they could be charged with abuse, and you could probably get guardianship.
If you feel you are being taken advantage of while they get all the rewards, next time Ma calls with a need for your time, just tell her you have other commitments and to call your sister who has everything under control. That might get Ma to open up to you about reality, too.
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Regarding pamstegma's response, I don't know if MS has a law requiring confidentially by an Executor or POA; but I'm sure that's not the case everywhere.
In my experience as Personal Representative (same as Executor) for my mom's estate,
I kept my siblings--the other heirs--informed through the whole process. No confidentiality required. Disclosure may not be required, either; but I think I'd share your suspicions if they seem to be so evasive.
Perhaps their mom or her family had assets before (or even after) she married your dad that they are trying to keep you unaware of just so you don't feel entitled to them.
Either way, you have a legally enforceable right to know what went with dad's estate, so get an attorney if you want to know.
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This sounds like this could be financial elder abuse. Talk to your stepmom directly, not about "how much" but how; is she filing 2016 income tax; does she need help, etc. if you suspect your sister is taking money needed for mom's care; call elder protective services.
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You have a right to know if you are the executor or named in the will or, if there is no will, an heir at law. If you know that there is a will, ask for it to be filed for probate and, if it is not, hire a probate attorney to compel this. In some states failing to file a will for probate is a crime. If there is no will (or if you are told that there is no will or that probate is not necessary), hire a probate attorney to file for an heirship proceeding with you as the estate's administrator.
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Stepdad's Will has to be filed for the probate process. Mississippi has a waiting period, so the Executor has to wait for bills and claims to come in. That takes at least a few months. You do NOT have a right to know unless you are an heir or the Executor. Usually spouses leave their estates to each other.
POA: ends at death. Then the Executor takes over. Neither a POA or an Executor is allowed to share information.
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