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My dad died suddenly, though not unexpectedly, last month. I've posted here about him while he was alive but the recap he had cancer twice over a period of years, and eventually about 6 months ago started being hospitalised repeatedly with lung infections and sepsis, ultimately suddenly passing from pneumonia whilst in recovery from sepsis. My mom has life limiting leukemia. We're a small family and I have one sister who lives maybe 15 miles away.

I moved home from abroad a few years ago when my dad's health started to decline as my sister wasn't really useful and my mom was finding it tough. He never became terribly dependant on me or my mom really (compared to other posts I read here) but things were tough for him. He'd always been the strong I-can-fix-anything dad and gradually his body stopped co-operating. My sister wouldn't be the kind to visit or help out much at all, even when he was at his sickest. That was her decision and she's entitled to make it. Neither her nor her husband work and they have a lot of free time, but for reasons known to them they elected not to spend it visiting or helping either of my parents, even when I moved back overseas about a month before my dad died and my parents were back to being just the two of them at the house. I came back (again!) when my dad was taken into ICU a few days after I left, and I let my job go as I couldn't say for sure when I would make it back. So I'm staying at my parents' house temporarily whilst I job hunt, and helping my mom wade through the swathes of paperwork that go along with someone dying.

As if by magic, now that my dad is gone my sister and her husband are all over my mom like a rash. Constantly showing up at her house (wouldn't see them from one end of the week to the next before), wanting to go through my dad's things, talking about his finances etc. My mom says it's because they're hoping for a cut of my dad's life insurance (he co-signed on their mortgage and seeing as they choose not to work they can barely make their payments). What my mom does with her money is entirely up to her, but my heart is aching and my blood is boiling for all the times my dad needed their help and they wouldn't come, and when he wanted her to visit but she chose not to.

I know that this is my issue to work through, I couldn't make her help when he was alive and I managed to let that go at the time. I don't think it's guilt on her part that's led to this 180 change in character (I'd be inclined to agree with my mom's assertion!) and the rage is making me go bananas. I'm reluctant to leave as my mom's taken my dad's death very hard (she already suffers from depression) and I would worry about her being alone, but the compulsion to let go at my sister is growing! Help!

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Glasker, run not walk away from this. Get a job, find a new home and don't worry. Mom will be calling soon enough when things get bad and she needs someone to take care of her and sis is no where to be seen. I know, I have been in a similar situation for years. Now mom is very ill. I just spent a month with her. Found out she had placed my brother on all of her accounts as joint owner with rights of survivorship. Me on nothing. Brother had a "come to Jesus" meeting with her and told her he was giving me half. I smiled. Spent the month with her. She is still the same old cranky jerk she always was. Not going back until it is all over.

Some parents are parents in name only. Take care of yourself.
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Glasker, maybe you could put a few small items in a box and walk up to mom and just gently announce that you would like to have these few things to remember dad by, and I imagine she could care less, or that she would be relived that there is less for her to sort thru. Also if there were any things you'd given your dad, or made for him, you could point that out "remember I gave this to him for Christmas 2 years ago....." to bolster your sense of fairness. Might not work but might be worth a small try. You can always try.
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Just thought I'd pop in for an update! Regrettably things haven't improved and my relationship with my mom is almost zero at this point, which is very strange given that I am still staying at her house! She's started boxing up all my dad's things to donate (he passed 2.5 months ago) and let my sister take a lot of his personal effects/papers without enquiring if I wanted any of them. I let her know maybe it's a little soon to be getting rid of his things and maybe she could let the boxes sit a while.......naturally she didn't take kindly to it and I got a huge lecture on how she owns everything now, she decides what stays/goes, she never got to keep anything sentimental when her dad died (not sure what that has to do with anything really?) along with some other choice and wholly unpleasant personal insults thrown in. Everything I read says don't make any big decisions and give yourself a few months which is where I was coming from....but she knows best. I feel like the only way I'll get to keep any small items of sentimental value would be to start squirreling them away which is easy as I live here, but would be horribly dishonest. I'll be moving away in the next 2-3 weeks which is just aswell as my sister slithering all over my mom (and mom loving it) is still as upsetting as it was the first day.
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Mallory, my mother probably will… :(
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Mom can even leave her millions to her cats if she wishes.
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Everyone is well aware there are ways to exert influence on a senior, and when that happens it is time for authorities to step in, mete out the proper response. However, if a senior is not ALZ or dementia, or otherwise "incapacitated " as accepted by the judgement of The Authorities, then mom is free to do as she wishes with her assets. It is either a case of incapacitated, or not. Not incapacitated....she is free to do what she wishes with her assets. That is simple, and the Law.
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malloryg8r: "Mom's assets are hers to decide what to do, and mom is human".

True statement, but the fact of the matter is that mom is also very vulnerable to undue influence by a greedy sibling that is obviously financially exploiting her. So yes, mom's assets are hers and she is human, true, but she can be easily conned and manipulated by a cunning child that has private 24/7 access to her and holds her very life in her hands. Your answer is way too simplistic in my view.
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Mom's assets are hers to decide what to do, and mom is human.
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Glasker1, I truly feel for you and can very much relate to your feeling of being emotionally "shut out" by your sister and mother. I have been going through that myself, and it is very hurtful. After the last time I visited my mom, bending over backwards to do as much as possible for her and with her, she sat and talked to my sister on the phone in front of me like I wasn't even there. She was telling her all the things we did together that day, but leaving me completely out of the conversation. She told her "I" went shopping and to the doctor and then "I" had lunch and "I" went for a drive out where your brother used to live ( I used to live three doors down from him, but no mention of me). It hurt my feelings a lot, but I understand that my mom has to show total allegiance to my sister, who is her primary caretaker. She is dependent on my sister for everything except money, which my sister has total control of, but it does belong to my mom. So my mom has to pretend I don't exist because I stopped speaking to my sister several years ago, thus I am "the enemy". So I "get" why my mom treats me that way, although it still hurts. I don't think she's really aiming her malice at me, it's more about trying to stay in my sister's good graces by any means possible, since she is her "lifeline". I have come to think of my family as operating like a high school clique. My mom and my sister are the center of the clique, and they ostracize, slander and isolate anyone that doesn't play the game their way. My sister and mom have always been a "package deal" and if you want my mom in your life you have to accept all the crap my sister dishes out. My brother that I consider kind of an ally in all this, seems like he has even become afraid to communicate with me for fear it will backfire on him. He needs to play his cards right and stay in "good" with my mom and sister because he is counting on a share of the inheritance as his retirement plan, but just like me, he considers my sister and mom both to be liars not to be trusted. So he just lays low and hopes to pacify them both until my mom is gone. He is under the delusion that if my sister has hijacked our inheritance, by getting her name on all assets as POD or beneficiary, they will slug it out in court after our mom is gone. That may be way too late, but that's what he believes he can do. Good luck with that plan!! My other brother, the oldest, is not "playing with a full deck", so to speak. He is - and always has been - my sister's loyal minion and has very limited understanding of how she operates. In other words, he doesn't see beneath her mask or read between the lines. He is totally gullible and easily controlled and manipulated. So he has no problem staying in the game, never rocking the boat. My sister holds all the power in the family now. She has total control of our mom in every way, and that's just how it is. Glasker1, I don't blame you at all for bowing out of the situation you are in. It seems to be a no-win scenario for you, as your sister's fixation on your mom's money is motivating her to drive a wedge between you and your mom. Your statement: "Mom can't see that I have her interests at heart and that my sister has her own interests" pretty much says it all. Your mom doesn't see the difference because she doesn't WANT to see it. She is deluding herself into believing your sister has the purest of intentions. I am finding that elderly people pretty much believe what they want to believe regardless of facts or reality and obvious contradictions. That is what makes them so ripe for manipulation and exploitation - they are like putty in the hands of a good con artist. So they fall into the hands of people like your sister and mine, who have their eye on the prize. So sad, but hey, I don't know how much money your mom has, but if your sister takes care of all of her needs through her last days, she will probably have earned it. Sometimes we have to sit back and just let the eager beaver go after their prize without interference from us that have good intentions at heart. Our mothers are just to blind to see things how they really are. Hugs to you and hope you can find peace with the whole sad situation.
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LOL Veronica: Ah, the mystery meat probably circles back to America....SPAM !!! No wonder the Python boys put together "Spamalot"..lol!! Thank you for reassuring me that y'all don't eat no babies over there. :) I just can't help myself, I should probably change my screen name to "Caution Annoyance Factor High".....
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Francis being annoying lightens the day. The English eat Marmite which is a meat based form of vegimite, again no babies are harmed in the manufacturing process.
Glasker i think you should hop on the first plane back from whence you came and let the chips fall where they may. You claim not to care about what Mom does with her money so let her give it all to your sister, then sis can deal when Medicaid comes calling because mom needs nursing home care which sis probably wont be able to provide. So both houses will have to be sold to cover that $7000 a month mom needs for a decent N/H. The IRS will also be notified by the bank if mom makes a large transfer so sis has to declare it on her Taxes. That is probably why Dad guaranteed the mortgage rather than buy the house outright. mom can only give away I believe it is now $13000.00 a year to an individual as a gift and if it is given less than 5 years before a Medicaid application she will be refused. it's a pretty mess she is getting into but she does have legal advice and you have no power only frustration so get packing. Does not mean you can never some back, but it has been made clear by Mom you are not wanted for the time being. She is your Mom and you love her but you also know her behaviour.
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*Whew*!!! Good to know Glasker, cause the Austrailians eat that vegimite stuff, which is pretty putrid. I would have lost ALL respect for the English ;)

So you sister is likely to be kicked out on her bum. Guess that means she and bil will move in with mom? That will be a fine kettle of fish. Sorry! I'll stop being annoying now. Well, I can't really promise that......
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I can confirm no babies were harmed (or digested!) during the making of this movie ;)

Yes, I would assume my sister would ask my mom to bail her out and my mom would. When my mom spoke with her lawyer it was very much to ensure that the bank would not/could not pursue my mom and potentially take her home. The attorney advised my mom that the bank would force a sale of my sister's home to clear the mortgage before pursuing any guarantors and, as there is equity in my sister's home, the proceeds of the sale would cover the mortgage.
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LOL Countrymouse...I had to backtrack on the conversation when I saw your comment about "eating babies"....WHA??? And a prawn sandwich sounds really gross...sorry, my "Americanism" is showing ;) Prawn = shrimp? excuse my ignorance :)

Glasker: This is probably my ignorance showing yet again..but if the lawyer contends, and is successful, that the mortgage is not your father's responsibility, then the bank will go after your sister, right? If that happens, won't she still go to your mother for help in that regard? i.e. still going to use Dad's money? (and if eating babies is an English thing, I don't want to know about it) lol :) I don't mean to diminish anything here, but your sister and mom sound absolutely ridiculous.
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At home I'd be a 4 hour flight away. At one point I lived a commutable 3-4 hour drive away and found that worse as I would feel compelled to visit very frequently (my mom would call me saying how my sister wasn't helping and mom couldn't cope). Travelling every weekend took its toll on my health, personal life and job.

With regard to mom's illness she won't discuss it. Thankfully she's in good health at the moment. The median survival range is 4 years but some live much longer, some don't. She lives a short distance from a great hospital and is under the care of an excellent oncology team.
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I've tried taking my mom to visit sis, believe me. I've tried pretty much everything at this point! This week they've been here all day every day, I guess because they're so cosy with my mom now. My Dad and BIL got along ok, I mean my Dad didn't particularly care for him but he never made that obvious and he was pleasant to him the whole time.

Mom has been trying to give us both money, not huge amounts but she'll randomly pull out a wad of cash and try and give it to me, most recently as an Easter 'gift'. I told her I didn't want her money and besides, people don't really give gifts on Easter anyway. She told me my sister had already taken it (course she did) so I needed to have it too so that things would be fair. I didn't accept it.

Mom can't see that I have her interests at heart and that my sister has her own interests. My being here is in a way upsetting my mom and to be honest it's crushing me emotionally to stay and listen to the way my sister is manipulating my mom and how my mom speaks about me when I try and get her to take a step back and look at things. Sis has also convinced mom to start clearing out my Dad's stuff - I said maybe she should put it out of sight for a little bit before making any decisions but no, sis has said it's a good idea.

Legally here I can't intervene in the administration of the estate (i.e. engage with my mom's attorney) so all I can do is hope that she retains some sense of what my sister is really up to and keeps her wits about her.
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Are you known for eating babies? Better idea, why don't you take your mother to visit your sister, drop her off there for the day and find something more interesting to do, then pick mother up again at whatever time's agreed.

I do think you should protect yourself. But I'm also looking back there at life-limiting leukaemia (how long has she had it? Do you know what sort?), and the whole family's bereavement, and your mother's clear, lifelong dependence on someone else making the key decisions and possibly resentment of it (she's bitching about you now, but I bet she used to about your dad when he got in her way), and… all I can say is if it were me I wouldn't leave. How far away will you be?

You know, don't you, that this new-found best-buddy thing with your sister will last no longer than the average prawn sandwich?
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Let the brother in law mow, consider it his penance. Perhaps he did not get along with your father and that is why he stayed away. Mom can not confront anything right now, she needs to be self-focused for an allowable grieving period. So might you, find a way to work things through.
Nothing should leave that house. It would be disrespectful to mom to take anything until she decides to part with it. Nor should she give money away, trying to relieve grief with generosity. She may need that later for her own care and comfort.
Also talk to the lawyer handling the estate about the mortgage your dad signed for. In a worst case scenario, the lender could come after his estate. Don't guess it will be OK, get a good legal opinion.
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Oh, what a sad tale! And for some, a cautionary one. You should get back to your life and work, leaving mom in the hand's of her her attorney. And no, i would not fine myself "on the hook" if mom has a future crisis. Your mom needs to be handled by professionals.
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For your own sanity, sounds like you made the only solution. They don't appreciate your help, and that's just sad. But you have a whole life to live and youve been redeemed from that. But...once you leave your mom may turn at vent to you that sister is the problem. Thus, youll be the string again. Best of wishes, keep us posted.
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Once again I say, you cannot change people. I say this in a loving way, once you move out, then make a life for yourself and don't think of this so much. Sister is who she is and so is mom.
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Mom's always been the kind to bad-mouth both my sister and I to anyone who would listen our whole lives (my sister would agree!) it was just a kind of extra betrayal to hear her dissecting me and her warped opinion of me to my sister. The part about me not being 'normal' was particularly hurtful as I've tried everything to remain calm and civil toward my mother as I'm conscious of the fact she's just lost my Dad and struggles with depression.

My sister now seems to be pulling the strings, saying she feels uncomfortable bringing the baby to see my mom because I'm here and I'm aware that it's only my mom's goodwill that is allowing me to have a roof over my head right now! Orchestrating my move home is going to take a few weeks, my shipping container just arrived this week and now I have to turn it around and send it right back.

Mom's depression means she really does question her own actions a lot of the time and in turn takes anyone else questionning her actions/abilities very personally - not in a good way! She is in reasonable health and is functioning as well as can be expected. I did mention to her the other day as some suggested here that what's left in the bank isn't an endless supply and she should start planning a litte - she said she'll be just fine and she knows exactly to handle herself financially. Trying to buy my sister's attention is obviously a sound investment, especially as I am now apparently the money-grabber in all this.

Just on the topic of the mortgage as I know a couple of people asked - my mom's attorney advised her to do nothing for now and in the event the debt is called in from the estate he plans to mount a challenge to the validity of the guarantee as it was signed without legal advice and under duress. Again I wasn't there so I don't know what went on, but that's how the attorney plans to handle it.
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Glasker - oh dear. I'm sorry, you must feel so hurt. How awful to have had to listen to all that silly garbage.

There's a but (you knew there'd be a but, didn't you?!). The thing is, your mother is at some risk of making a proper Horlicks of things, as we say in polite company round here; and although it doesn't make you popular to stand in her way it does make you right.

By all means move out and create some distance, but don't leave her to her own devices completely. Ok, it won't be *your* fault if she manages to bankrupt herself, or gets horribly scammed, or gets her heart broken; but you are in a position to point out the pitfalls even if she doesn't like to hear about them.

Even as a parting shot, you might consider doing her a budget and a financial plan, and include perhaps the names and contact details of people whose advice she needs before she makes any irrevocable or expensive decisions. It's good that she's financially comfortable; it's great that she can take her (let's not add any adjectives) daughter on vacation; all you're trying to do is stop her being an idiot.

And for your own sake, remember that water passes under the bridge and how you feel now, very sore, is not how you'll feel forever. Your mother needs at least one responsible child in her life. Take care of yourself, but don't give up on her. Best of luck, hugs to you.
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Hi all, thanks so much for taking the time to reply and to try and comfort me, you are all so kind. I'd been quiet the last few days as I've come to the decision to leave my mom's house over the coming weeks and try to figure out what to do once that's happened. When I quit my job and come back here it was a very quick decision I had to make, and I guess it didn't really occur to me (or it did and I ignored it) that if things went bad with my mom/sister after my Dad died, I'd kinda have nowhere to go. And here I am!

My mom and sister are best friends now, united in their disdain for me. My sister gets to be the fun kid, breeze in and out for coffee, lunch etc. but never has to have the tough conversations with my mom about my Dad's health or her own, or the serious business or sorting things out that my mom needs to have resolved. My sister just sails around and goes on the free vacations, so from my mom's perspective I'm the one causing all the problems. My sister has no problem at all with my mom, why would she? Her relationship with my mom is one where she takes, so she's got nothing to complain about.

Last night my sister called my mom and I heard it all, my mom lamenting to my sister how awful I am, how awful it is having me here in her home, how my sister is right that I've totally changed since my Dad died and it's all about money, how I'm not normal, how my mom has plenty of money to spoil my sister if she likes (presumably in response to my sister acting like she feels bad taking her money) etc. etc. I could go on but you know where it's going.

So the decision is now made! I have to say I didn't think things would go bad quite this fast, but I guess now all the paperwork is done and the administrative stuff is pretty much taken care of I've outstayed my welcome. It's been a difficult life lesson for me, and one that I probably would have seen coming sooner if grief wasn't what it is.
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The words "blood boil" should be sign to you that you have to take care of yourself. Sister isn't going to change. I have learned the hard way that you cannot change people. Even if they need to change. Just take care of yourself. I am so sorry for your loss. A month ago isn't very long to grieve. I am saying this with a loving spirit, both you and your mom might avail yourselves to counseling.
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2nd Best, I hear you, but I sort of have to point out, once dad died the estate belongs to mom (if that is how dad left it), and mom gets to decide at that point what she wants to do with it. Even if dad said he wanted it split equally 4.ways, that died with dad. It's hard to accept. I don't know if everything you recount about your sister is exactly true, but thank God, there is someone who is Judge above All, and there is a time when she will have to answer--if she has in fact wrongly influenced your mom. I'm so sorry to hear of your situaiton, but as the one kid of 5 who does anything for my mom, I know it can seem all too suspicious if mom might give me some little thing extra. I am glad you do spend 7 or 10 days a year with your mom, and can only imagine in my wildest dreams that any of my 4 siblings would do so, but in my case I am equally suspicious of their motives for visiting, because they are always asking for (you guessed it) money. But they do nothing of the actual work that I have done for 30+years.
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Glasker1, it sounds to me like your sister is the "golden child" who does all the slacking and gets all the rewards, and you are cast in the role of "scapegoat" who gets all the dirty work with no rewards and not even a little gratitude. Your mother's continuing to reward your sister for her lack of performance is classic dysfunctional family dynamics in action. Seems like your mother totally takes you for granted and thinks you should be doing the heavy lifting in her care, and your sister is entitled to just come around when she feels like it. My situation is similar to yours in some ways, but in my case my sister lives near my mom's AL residence and so is her primary caretaker. I live 800+ mi away and own a company, so am pretty tied down. I visit my mom usually 7-10 days every year, and would more often but I'm not even on speaking terms with my sister for the past 6 years - long story for another day. Anyway, my sister is 100% in control of our mom - every facet of her care and all financial and estate matters is in my sister's hands. That makes it easy for my sister to influence our mom, whisper negative words in her ear, and control her thoughts and deeds. I have no doubt she has influenced our mom to tweak the money in her favor. I have resigned to the fact that my sister, who is a pathetic bottom-feeder that has never accomplished anything in her life, may just end up with the bulk of our parents' estate, which right now is around $1M. It hurts to know that our father had intended for all 4 siblings to share equally, but that may not happen. My sister can do no wrong in our mother's eyes, even though she is a total screw-up. I guess what I'm trying to say is that life is not fair. It's not fair that the burden of my mom falls on my sister, and it's not fair that I don't live there and can't be there to help more. I actually tried to be involved after my father's death, but I got a "butt-out" vibe from both of them. My sister had immediately had her name added on my mom's checking account, which my brother and I found suspect, but our sister defended it fiercely. My mom initially had me sign up to be her "limited agent" on some investment accounts she had, which is where most of her money was held in a Trust my dad had drawn up. Well, I did sign up, but when viewing the account online I noticed that my sister had her and my mom's JOINT account listed as the account any redemption of shares of the funds would go into! So in this way, I would be the one to initiate and order funds to be transferred into their joint account (at her verbal request probably for later deniability), thereby making the funds my sister's as well as our mom's. If anyone objected to it later my sister could point the finger squarely at me. Once I saw that was the arrangement, I immediately sent a letter to my mom and to the brokerage firm resigning as the limited agent on the account. I told my mom why and that I don't trust my sister AT ALL. Even if I insisted the joint account be taken off and an account only in my mom's name be put there instead, nothing would stop my sister from funneling the money (about 700k) into my mom's account and then duping my mom into transferring it to their joint account. So their solution was to dissolve the Trust and buy some annuities (secretly without any of the rest of us knowing until after the fact) and for which we don't know who the named beneficiaries are. My sister has been conniving and working on this "project" for years - it is obviously her "retirement plan" - long before any of us even thought about it. She rarely saw our parents for 30 years even though she lived in the same town, but she cozied up to them about 4 yrs before my father died. She even pretended to be Catholic again and went to church with them on Sundays. It was hilarious watching her dipping her fingers in every holy water fount and blessing herself when we were at the church setting up my dad's funeral. It was only an act, but it was very effective on my mom, since us being practicing Catholics is her #1 wish. So long story short, my sister is right where she wants to be - in total control of our mom and her bucks. Sorry for the rambling...I could go on and on...
Your sister seems to have the same power over your mother that my sister has over mine. I have had a hard time facing the fact that all children are not loved equally and just because you are a good, moral person and are successful in life, and doing all the work in caring for your parents, doesn't mean you will ever get any approval or respect from your parent(s) if you are not the favorite. That's just how it is, I've learned. Sad but true. So don't keep beating your head against the wall - try to see and accept reality and live your life accordingly. Your mom obviously favors your sister for some unknown reason, so let them work it out and you can go live your own life. Tell her you have a big vacation planned!!
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Then your sister needs to approach your late father's cousin and explain the mortgage situation to him. Trying to stop the mortgage provider finding out that their guarantor is deceased is not a viable option.
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Maybe theyre right. Your mother is shutting you down. Sends them on vacation. father left his executor of his will to someone else and your mom probably will do the same? They want you to go through headaches and give up your life ? run girl run. That may be the coup to grace, save yourself. Take yourself on vacation to the beach and ask God where you should go. Ask him to open doors. He will...
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Glasker1, I was surprised to discover that my mother really knew nothing about her finances after my father passed away. She was always the one who paid the bills and balanced the checkbook, but my father was the one who managed their investments. She pretended to be informed and savvy about things, but she really knew nothing about any of it.
Yes, let go, and let your mother and sister sort things out. Most of the time, our consequences have to bite us in the ass in order for us to learn--that's true for everyone. You don't necessarily have to 'fly off into the sunset' forever! You can decide how much involvement, if any, you choose to have. Whatever is best for you is what you should do.
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