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Three years ago, I moved into my mom's home to act as her caregiver. Fortunately, my job as a professor allowed me to work at home for the most part. During this time I have sacrificed so much of my life. As my brother told me, I have done more for my mom than 99% of the population would ever have done. A few months back, my mother nearly died. Fortunately, she pulled through. Now, my mom requires medical attention that I am unable to provide, and so now she resides at a nursing facility. Soon, my mom’s insurance will no longer cover her stay at the nursing facility…


My siblings and I had a meeting to discuss how to finance my mother’s stay at the nursing facility. I was absolutely astonished at the words that came out of my siblings’ mouths. Never in my life have I witnessed such selfishness and greediness. They want to sell off all of my mother’s assets to pay for her stay nursing at the nursing facility including all of the property and house my mother wanted me to inherit.


I have no problems with selling off whatever I have or will get to provide the best for my mother. The problem lies here: I was recently laid off and I am struggling to pay my bills. Also, having a disability is only making my financial situation worse.


Now, my siblings want to sell my mom’s house and are literally “going to through me out in the street” when I have essentially no money, no job, absolutely nothing. If you can imagine working 60 to 80 hours per week while taking care of my mom, such as taking her to all of her doctor’s appointments, taking care of her meds, waking up every hour of the night to assist my mom to get up to use the bathroom, etc. I think you get the idea. Last fall, my schedule was such that I was not able to sleep on Sunday and Tuesday nights. I became so exhausted and ill that I began throwing up blood. I did all this and more while my other siblings did not do a single thing.


And now, in the lowest moment of my life, my siblings want to throw me out in the street. I desperately need legal help to defend myself in some way, but I cannot even afford attorney fees. Do I have any options?


After all I have done for my siblings, is this really going to happen to me? I feel very embarrassed and ashamed to bring these questions here. I cannot believe my siblings are so bound by money. I wish I had a better understanding of law. I have looked at a few legal documents and I am unable to interpret them. It’s as if these documents were written in another language. I would welcome any suggestions.

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loveumom1, for many of us our retirement years are not what we'd hoped for or expected. My cousin and his wife had raised their children and were talking about selling their business and traveling a lot when she was diagnosed with a rare disabling disease. She can no longer walk. She is totally incontinent. Her vision is failing. This is not how they expected things to be at this point in their lives.

Because I married an man older than I, I expected to outlive him. We were not expecting that I would spend the final 10 years of our time together with me being his caregiver through the dementia journey. With both of us being professionals and making decent money, I fully expected to have some decent money in my retirement. Ha! Not even a life insurance policy. It is very expensive to take care of someone with dementia.

You have had a triple whammy. You now have a disability. You were very lucky to have a professional-level job you could do mostly from home, and now that has disappeared. And the security of where you live is being threatened. Yikes! This is sure not where you expected to be at this point in your life. And none of these catastrophes were your fault. Vent away! Rage against this terrible situation. If you get stuck on "rage" and have difficulty taking action, I urge you to find a counselor. Many of us on this site can relate!

You are looking for another perspective. I'm going to give you mine. If it is not applicable at all, disregard it.

You talk about your family traditions and your cultural heritage. It sounds like a dysfunctional situation to me. It took your father years to realize he could pursue his own life. But he thought his children should turn over every cent they made to him. What about their right to pursue their own lives? Good for your brother for pursuing the college education he wanted. Bad for your parents for burdening the rest of the children with that pursuit.

You cared for your mother to the point of being physically ill yourself. But all she had to do was shed a few tears and you couldn't bring yourself to do what would have been best for both of you. What was that about?

Your mother wanted to give you (actually, pay you) $50,000 for the care you were providing. She was getting by cheaply for the services she was getting for three years. And you refused to accept this. WHAT?! Why on earth could you not see that you were worth this and entitled to it?

I blame your parents far more for the situation you are in than I blame your siblings. (BTW, are they all brothers?) Somehow you have been raised to be a martyr. It astonishes you that your siblings don't share the notion of "sacrifice" to this extent.

You think that your siblings should appreciate that you gave up so much of your life and that you worked yourself to utter exhaustion and physical illness caring for your mother. I think you should not have done those things. I think you made unhealthy choices and it isn't realistic to expect admiration and financial support for making those choices.

You need to stand up for yourself and put your obvious intelligence toward getting on your feet again. Research how much lead time you will have to be given before you can be forced out. This varies by location, but no landlord or owner or POA can say, "You have to be out by next Friday." Some notice must be given.

Are you on disability? Do you have a case worker? Often that person can help you uncover options you may have. Are you collecting unemployment insurance? What resources are available to you for job searching? At least you no longer have to work from home to take care of Mom.

You deserve a chance to pursue happiness in your own life. This is an especially tough time for you. You can get through it and be stronger for it. You deserve help, and it may be that an objective third party can provide support as you go through it.
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There's a trust? Who are the trustees? Are you one of them?
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If you kept the house on the 6 acres, would you have the resources to pay taxes and upkeep on the house? With your disability, wouldn't it be difficult to maintain such a large piece of property? I don't know how big the home is, but they take a lot of work & money to upkeep.
So your retirement plans were always to live in that home?
As I get older (late 50's am I ) I plan to downsize my home. It's just too big for me to spend my time & energy cleaning & maintaining it & my husband & I work full time to pay for "the barn"( as we refer to our home jokingly), hoping to retire in a few years. Paying taxes on 6 acres may be too costly. 
So where you are staying now is in another home owned by your mother?

Maybe your siblings want to begin to liquidate your mom's assets as the homes & properties are costing too much out of your mom's financial resources. To upkeep those properties could be using up a lot of her assets. It sounds like your brothers are aware of the cost of real estate upkeep and want to begin to liquidate some of her assets as that money is needed to pay for mom's care. In that case, their plan has merit. Who has POA?

You allude that your siblings are wealthy and you say they can afford to pay for your mother's care easily. It is not your sibling's responsibility to pay for that if your mother has assets of her own that can be sold and used to pay for her own care. You really can't say what your siblings finances look like as you are not privy to what their financial responsibilities are.

What were your family dynamics prior to your mother's illness?

Lastly you said your mother never wanted to end up in a nursing home. I feel for you as that's what my mom always said as well. But it was getting to be unsafe for my mother to live at home, & her medical conditions forced our hand. For my brother and I, those 14 months were h*ll and imagining what my mother felt like in the NH made it 1000x worse. But it had to be that way to assure her safety. And my mom lived with my brother, who tried to keep her home as long as possible.

Sometimes situations that you can't predict dictate the decisions you make even if those decisions are heart wrenching (keeping you mom in rehab/LTC). Maybe your brothers are selling her home out of necessity to pay for her care. If she improves and you can take her home, she will need 24/7 care and that IS expensive. Are your brothers anticipating that, which is why they want to sell the house "ASAP"? 

These circumstances can tear families apart. The goal here is what is best for your mother, not them, nor you. It sounds as if you were counting on living in the 6 acre home as your retirement home & you are worried this may not be in the cards.

I wouldn't have all your eggs in one basket. Your mom may need to liquidate all her assets to pay for her care as no one can know when she will pass.

You also can't say with certainty that your brother with the office down the street never visited her as you weren't there 24/7. If this brother is the neurosurgeon he could very well have visited his mom in the middle of the night if he has patients in that hospital.
I hope it hasn't come to the point that you need an attorney every time you speak with your siblings. I still don't think that you getting "thrown out on the street" is eminent, but if I were you I would begin to explore other options independent of your family so you have a Plan B. 

For your own peace of mind I would see an attorney and explain all this to him/her & perhaps retain one to represent you in the event things take a bad turn.

How is mom? Any improvement in her delirium? Do her physicians feel she will never improve and need long term care going forward? I do not know much about managing trusts and estates - the good folks on this forum are the experts on that & will help guide you going forward, and only you know the particulars of your mother's assets and wishes should she pass away.

Keep focused on being your mother's advocate, but don't forget to be your own advocate as well. Get info on subsidized housing & community resources available for you. 

You still have your own life to plan for and in the end there is no one you can really depend on but yourself.
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I will address all of your questions as follows:

@jeannegibbs,

In addition to my mom's home, she owns a farm house on 6 acres joined with an additional 17 acres. (It is 23 acres in total. The house with 6 acres was purchased years after the original 17 acres of property. So, there are two sets of taxes to pay even though the house and 23 acres physically or geographically one single plot.) My parents also purchased an additional 2.5 acres of bare land for investment purchases.

As far as legal help, financially, I need time to find employment and get back on track. The house in which I currently reside could sell tomorrow. Where would I go? I felt "threatened" (for a lack of a better word) when this question entered my mind. Maybe I jumped the gun when I thought that I had some legal basis to remain where I currently reside. In retrospect, I realize there is no legal basis. I will just have to roll with the punches.

Also, I need to communicate with my siblings. Speaking is no longer an option. So, if I were to communicate via writing a letter, I don't want to unknowingly write something that can be used against me. A slight miswording can be interpreted in a way other than what I intend. This matter is personal and complicated. To be on the safe side, I am reluctant to disclose some information on this discussion board. I am in no way being rude to all of the caring members here. I think you understand;)

With that said, I need to confide in an attorney who needs to understand my situation in more detail than I can provide here. I have questions that only an attorney can answer, such as how should I interpret the trust. If I need to communicate to my siblings via written letters, I feel that I should have an attorney to “proof read” any such document. Or the attorney may write letters on my behalf. In general, I am ignorant when it comes to understanding law and financing. This is why I believe it is necessary to have the confidence of an attorney. To add insult to injury, having a disability greatly exacerbates this situation beyond belief.

@Countrymouse,

Only a few days before us siblings had our discussion, my brother told me that he was the only sibling that cares for me and would “help” me with my staying home. He that my other sibling’s don’t give a s#?t about me and will put me on the street without a second thought. I thought it was rather strange that my brother “the only sibling that cares for me” was inviting me over for dinner, asking me to go fishing with him at the yacht club, go bike riding, etc., two weeks before us siblings were to meet. Before that time, he didn’t even acknowledge my existence. When we siblings had our discussion, the truth came out. I never felt so used in my life. In any case, my “caring brother” has already had several meetings with his attorney and has appraised all of my mother’s assets. So as soon as my siblings get the green light, the house will be put up for sale ASAP.

Before my father passed away, our family was very tight-knit. It is so hard to imagine that money has the power to destroy families. A few years ago, you can’t imagine the war my brothers waged against each other over money. At least I did not understand it. At that time, they both have enough money to live the rest of their lives securely and comfortably. The expression “money is the root of all evil” holds a profound truth.

You mentioned “it’s not too late.” This situation blossomed many years ago following my father’s death. I am sorry to say that “it is way too late.”

@ BarbBrooklyn,

“Do they realize that mom's home is an exempt asset under Medicaid?”

I don’t think so. I was not aware of this. I need to go to the Social Security office to discuss how my disability is affected by all of this. I am glad that you mention this and I will discuss it with them.

“are your siblings aware of your current precarious financial situation? Have you shared with them the fact that you have no place to go if your mother's house is sold?”

They are very well aware of this.

@ CTTN55,

“Why were you responsible to pay for a sibling's education? So that sibling turned down a full scholarship and let you pay instead? (Why did you let that happen???)”

At that time, I had no choice. Every penny that I made, was given to my parents. In turn, they used that money to pay for everything that they deemed necessary – including us siblings’ education. This is how our family managed to get by in life. It is also a part of our family heritage. When my dad arrived in the US with a few dollars in his pocket, he still mailed money back to his family back home. My dad kept only the minimum amount of money he needed to survive. It took him a long time for him to realize that he has his own life to live and he deserves better. It is very hard to break away from tradition and family. My father made it clear to us siblings that he would not accept a dime once we were on our own. So this may seem strange that I never saw a penny of what I earned, but it this is how our family emerged to live a better life.

“DO look into keeping the house to live in as your mother's caregiver.”

Before this mess emerged and I lost employment, I had planned to move into the house in the country with the six acres. In fact, that was my dream: a house in the country. But I have to put that dream to rest now. My mom’s trust stated to sell the home in which I currently reside, and use that money to pay off the balance on the country house with 6 acres. She even wanted to give me $50,000 because she knew that I would be the only child that would and did care for her and she also felt bad about the sacrifices I have made for her. I absolutely declined. So, I am considering keeping the house to live in as my mother's caregiver. But, I don’t have that option. My siblings want to sell this house ASAP. I understand why they want to sell this house ASAP. This home will sell much faster than the house in the country.

“Let me guess...you probably never got any help from your sibs in taking care of your mother”

My brother’s office is on the same street where my mother currently resides, and where she was in rehab for six months rehab a while back, and when she was in the hospital – even when she was in the ICU. He literally drove past her twice a day. How much more convenient is that? He never visited her once! Does that answer your question?

@ CarlaCB,
Thank you very much. That is very kind of you.
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Even if you remain in the home and there is a lien in place, can you afford the upkeep, repairs, and taxes? Medicade can wait for tbe sale but will not pay for the extras
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Love, are your siblings aware of your current precarious financial situation? Have you shared with them the fact that you have no place to go if your mother's house is sold?
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loveumom1- don't feel guilty about burdening us with your whole complicated story. The better we understand your circumstances, the more we can respond with replies that make sense in your actual circumstances, and not waste our time and yours with replies that don't make sense for you.
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Why were you responsible to pay for a sibling's education? So that sibling turned down a full scholarship and let you pay instead? (Why did you let that happen???)

DO look into keeping the house to live in as your mother's caregiver.

Let me guess...you probably never got any help from your sibs in taking care of your mother. Did they ever provide respite for you? Sounds like you were invested in making everyone ELSE happy during this caregiving journey.
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Are your siblings consulting with an eldercare attorney about the house sale, etc.? Do they realize that mom's home is an exempt asset under Medicaid?
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I feel every sympathy with you about how the family conference went. It seems such a good idea to have one (and it *is* a good idea), but then instead of everyone pulling together and looking at the situation in the round one feels thrown under a bus, it all becomes extremely emotional and then confrontational, and then metaphorical hand grenades get thrown, and then one leaves feeling that nothing will ever be the same again.

Too late for me, but not too late for you.

As you said in your original post, your siblings do have some appreciation of what you have sacrificed for your mother. When you were discussing mother's care, what was said about the implications of the siblings' plan for you? Did they show any understanding that an immediate house sale would leave you with nowhere to live? How much longer will the insurance cover last, and then looking at your mother's assets as a whole how could they be best managed to maintain her?

What I'm hoping is that it isn't too late to start again. Come up with a plan of your own, reconvene, and see what you can negotiate.
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I can certainly understand why you are very disappointed in the reaction and lack of support and appreciation from your siblings.

I don't think I understand what you are asking us. What kind of legal representation do you need? What do you need to defend yourself from? Do you mean defend your right to the house? Or something else? Other than the house, what assets does your mother own?
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I feel bad since many of you have taken the time to write lengthy replies. My siblings want to sell the house ASAP. When I think of this situation, of course I am concerned about where I will go. I do not want to get personal, but my siblings are extremely well off. They could pay my mother's nursing home costs for the next century and it would not put a dent in their finances. But they are completely correct in that my mother's care should be paid using her assets.

I come from humble background. My dad literally had only a couple of dollars in his pocket when he boarded the ship to New York and leave his poor hometown and family after WWII devastated Europe. I cannot emphasize enough how hard we had to work to make ends meet. I will never forget how guilty I felt as a child when one time I spent 40 cents on a comic book.

In any case, I was fortunate to receive a full-paid college scholarship and did not have to spend a penny for my education. My brother received a similar scholarship, but he declined this opportunity to go to the most expensive college in the US. Every dime and nickel I earned went to pay for his education.

What bothers me is that my siblings have no respect for the sacrifices I have made for them. If I were to die, I don't think they would even care. Sometimes I think that after my mother passes away, I am going to spend the holidays by myself.

At this point, I am very very exhausted. I have no more energy to deal with these things. Sorry to have burdened you with my personal life. I just wanted to put things in a better perspective.
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@frequentflyer, Before my mother became this ill, she was adamant about not wanting to spend her last days in a nursing home. One day I took my mom to her appointment with her primary care physician. He was out of town, so my mom saw the doctor's partner instead. When the doctor learned about what I was going through as her caregiver, he try to persuade my mom to go to a nursing home. After the doctor's appointment while driving home, my mom began to cry. So I did all I could to provide the best for her. After all, my parents sacrificed their lives so that us siblings would have a better life. So I have absolutely no qualms or regrets about helping helping her as I did. Now that I can no longer provide my mom with the medical care she requires, I have no choice. She is now in a nursing facility.

But now I am exhausted. What ever happens - let it be. I will still be there for my mom. Members of this site have been very kind and generous with their suggestions. For that I am grateful.
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Thanks to those who raised the important issue of the OP remaining in the house since she was a caregiver. I missed that when I posted.
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You can apply for unemployment if you were laid off. Or apply for SSDI as others stated above if you qualify. Were you tenured as a professor? 
My siblings wouldn't just kick me out on the street, & I am hoping yours wouldn't either. If you talk with them, might they help you out until you get back on your feet? You are super stressed now- as are your family. Take a step back and just breathe...
Eventually if your mom needs Medicaid her assets will have to be used for her care.
You have time to work something out with your family. You can also apply for subsidized housing if your income is low. You can begin that process or research it on the internet.
Good luck!
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Call Medicaid. Many states allow a caregiving child to remain in the home if they provided care for a period of two years and medically necessary.

Who is Mom's POA?
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loveumom1 - You express shock and disapproval of your siblings' "selfishness and greediness" in wanting to sell your mother's assets, but it's not at all clear to me what you expected them to say, or to propose. What other options are there for paying for your mother's care? What would they have suggested if they weren't being greedy and selfish?

I think in most families, paying for the parent's care out of the parent's assets would be the obvious course of action, the one everybody would agree with. I know that in my family, if my mother had assets, my siblings would insist her assets be used for her care before reaching into their own pockets to help out.

It is a very unfortunate aspect of caregiving that the ones who aren't doing it rarely give a thought to the costs incurred by the one who is doing it. They almost never think that their siblings' sacrifices obligate them to do anything or provide any compensation. In your situation, maybe you could make the case to your siblings that you have been left destitute and disabled after caring for Mom, and some part of her assets should be set aside for your support while you get back on your feet again. The problem with that idea, though, is that if your mother's remaining assets are not enough to pay for her care and she ends up needing Medicaid, that may cause the look-back rule to be invoked and result in a penalty.

It's possible that your local Legal Aid or non-profit legal services agency has somebody on staff with expertise in Medicaid and elder law issues. I would research that first if I were you. You need to find out whether your mother can get Medicaid without having the home sold or whether you can qualify for an exception to keep the home due to having been an in-home caregiver for several years or being disabled yourself. There are exceptions to the Medicaid home lien rules, but they vary from state to state, so you need to find a lawyer in your state to guide you through. Good luck!
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You need a lawyer. Before Mom can go on Medicaid she will need to go thru her assets. Are you on SSD. If so as a disabled child living in her home, you may be able to stay in it. You will have to pay the taxes, utulities and upkeep probably. The lawyers payment can come out of Moms money. You need to do this to protect yourself.
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loveumom1, have you looked into Medicaid [different from Medicare] where Medicaid will pay for all of your mother's care. Note that Medicaid would put a lien on Mom's house so that they will get reimbursed for her care, but you can still live in the house until she passes [check with your State Medicaid office as sometimes the rules can change]. With Medicaid Mom would need to use up her liquid assets and have only around $2k in the bank.

Taking care of an elder who needs more help then your can physically give is extremely overwhelming. Usually one should have cut back on the caregiving long before the situation became so out of control, but sadly we continue to move forward even though our energy is gone. Then we, ourselves, become sick.

May I ask if this is a situation where your siblings wanted Mom to move into continuing care but you said no, you said you could take care of Mom? Thus, you lost valuable time not being in the workforce. I could see your siblings wanting to use the equity in Mom's house to pay for her care in a skilled facility.

Curious, did you use up all your savings to help pay for Mom's care? Even if Mom has in her Will that the house would go to you, Medicaid trumps the Will. It's not fair to the taxpayers who fund this much needed program to pay for your Mom's care while she has a house that a heir would receive. I know, sometimes this doesn't sound fair :(
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Lots of questions and issues here.

First, do your siblings have legal authority to take any action whatsoever? Does your mother have a POA or DPOA? If so, who's the proxy? That's the person who has authority to take action in disposition of assets and handle other financial and legal issues.

Does your mother have a Will or Trust, and if so (a) are the siblings aware of the asset disposition? (b) Who's the Personal Rep (f/k/a Executor or Executrix) or Trustee?

Second, talk to the social worker at the nursing home about getting your mother on Medicaid, if she's not already on it. If she is, ask the SW to clarify the issue of retaining the house for Medicaid acquisition. Others are more knowledgeable about Medicaid, but it will lien your mother's hosue.

While you're at it, ask if the SW has any suggestions for you. She probably doesn't, but it does seem to me that you could qualify for Medicaid as well. That would at least address your medical needs.

Third, did you and your mother have any caregiving agreements, i.e., a contract for services?

Fourth, what specific legal action have your siblings take that requires a defense? Have they sued you, or are they still in the threatening stage? If you need legal help, it should be specific, but you can start by researching the state bar organization for your area and look for pro bono legal aid services.

Some major law firms do limited pro bono work as well, but I'd ask a state bar or county bar association if they're aware of any. This usually isn't publicized very much outside of the profession.

However, please provide more information on why you need legal representation. Your siblings might just be "blowing smoke" at this stage.

Fifth, which specific legal dox are you trying to interpret? It makes a difference, and could provide a foundation for support for you. Just name the dox.

Sixth, there are attorney experts who opine here periodically. After getting more answers, if you still have legal questions, use the "contact us" link at the bottom of the page and ask for an expert to provide guidance.

Lastly, siblings are not always grateful, and many of the posts here attest to the inheritance rivalries that arise when assets may come into play. Don't expect or rely on them, but absolutely, DOCUMENT everything they say, do or refuse to do, and anything that you might have to use in defense of yourself.
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Have you applied for unemployment? How about SSDI for disability? You sound eligible for subsidized housing with disability, no income and impending homelessness. Contact your county social services so they can help you.
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