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I am mid 50s, with a brother that’s 52. My younger brother has been taking fairly large sums of money from my 84 year old mother for the past several years. I found out about this on a sheet of paper that she felt compelled to show me last year on how much money she gives to family members, and for him there have been several distributions in the last four years amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. I was flabbergasted and didn’t say much about it at the time.


I’ve had no idea this was going on, and mom has enough money that she can do this easily without feeling a pinch, but I don’t feel that makes it right for him to take money from her whenever something in his life isn’t exactly right and he wants to spend money on non-essential goods and services. He is employed, has a family and no issues with normal living expenses, so I feel he is using her as a savings and loan with no intention of paying it back.


He lives in the same hometown as her and I live out of state, so maybe she feels she needs to compensate him in some manner for helping her out, but it is a big sum of money that’s changing hands. I’m not really sure what to think at this point, we converse frequently and I’m sure it would be hugely awkward to bring this up in conversation. Any advice?

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"He lives in the same hometown as her and I live out of state, so maybe she feels she needs to compensate him in some manner for helping her out." You communicate over the phone, facetime, whatever, not in person correct?

Understand, older people lie about their needs to make them look more independent than what they really are. Not being there, you are relying on her interpretation of independence rather than reality.

So, if I am you, call bro, do not mention money and ask how mom is really doing, feel him out on what he actually does...you know, the 24/7 phone calls, repairs, appts, shopping, etc, etc. The non caring sibling usually does not even remotely understand times involved in care.

I did an invoice for my time at FMV one time to prove a point, the invoice came to over $100k a year. If he only helps her 8 hours a week at agency charges, your looking at over $12k a year.

Get facts before you overreact. Caregiving sibling deserves payment.
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DO you honestly believe 24/7 care is cheap and your brother is just going to do it for free when he has his own expenses? A nursing home costs an average of $85,000 to $90,000 a YEAR -- and if you put her in a nursing home, not only is it crappy care, Medicaid will liquidate her assets. A person on Medicaid is only allowed like $2,000 in their banking account maximum.

However, if you mum needs to go to a nursing home, Medicaid WILL evaluate the spending over the last FIVE years due to look-back laws. This requires an Eldercare Attorney for estate planning and establishing POA, wills, and trust.

If you are not happy with your brother caring for your mum, I suggest you take over and do it yourself.
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disgustedtoo Jul 19, 2021
Medicaid doesn't "liquidate" assets. It will deny coverage if assets are above 2k, which means self-pay if care is needed until the assets are depleted. Even then, if her income is over the paltry Medicaid limit, and/or she doesn't meet the requirements for NH care, then Medicaid isn't going to provide coverage.

Nowhere is it indicated that mom requires 24/7 care. There isn't really any indication of ANY care being provided at all. We don't have the information needed to make any blanket statements. OP may not have the information needed either.
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GaryPI,

You say in your profile that your mother still lives independently in her own place. There's no mention of her having dementia and not being able to look after herself. So she's still competent to handle her own affairs and make her own decisions.
There was no need to show you how much money she's given your brother over the last few years. It sounds to me like mom might just be enjoying a bit of indulgence in a favorite pastime of many elderly people. Instigating. Where I come from we call it starting sh*t, which is exactly what it is.
Please have a sit-down with your brother and without heat or accusations of taking advantage or stealing, just talk to him about it.
In all likelihood your brother who lives nearby and who helps out displeased her in some way. Maybe he had to say 'no' to one of her requests or demands. So she's instigating a fight by showing you the records of how much money she's given out to him, even though as you've said, she can more than afford to. I'm sure your brother never hears the end of it from her either about it.
Please talk to your brother without your mother present. Listen to his side and what he has to say before making accusations about him taking advantage.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver
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If your mother is of sound mind, which I presume she is since she's keeping a paper on how much money she gives family members, then she's entitled to give her money to whomever she pleases. Why, I wonder, is she feeling compelled to show you this paper? I'd ask her the "why" questions before asking your brother and see what she has to say. I'd venture to guess your brother helps her out with a LOT of things and she's paying him for his time, rather than helping him pay off gambling debts! But who knows. Seems to me your mother was trying to open up a conversation with you when showed you that paper.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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I bet your brother is doing a lot to help your mom… you on the other hand are not … don’t question your mother .. it’s none of your business
how she wants to spend her money.
too many older children who are MIA are concerned about their inheritance….
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Christservant Jul 19, 2021
Boy does that sound like my situation.
The only help they are is helping themselves to her money
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Your mother is at least in control of her finances to the extent that she herself is keeping records and feels free to disclose the information if she wants to. No suggestion there of the dear old poppet losing her marbles, so that's point #1.

Your mother is well off enough to be able to give your brother this money without feeling the pinch. If that's likely to remain the case, you need have no concerns about her financial welfare - so that's point #2.

Why, did your mother "feel compelled" to show you this piece of paper? What compelled her?

Unless your mother was asking for your advice and/or your opinion, you'd better hold your tongue. Gifts your mother chooses to make and can reliably afford to make are none of your business. Your brother's moral framework - at least until it crosses certain bounds - is none of your business. Unless you need to apply the information your mother disclosed to you to any practical purpose, you might do better to act as though she never did that.
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BurntCaregiver Jul 20, 2021
Countrymouse,

The mother made it the poster's business because she showed him all of the records. He didn't go snooping around her records and didn't insist she show him. She did it herself.
You are right about him holding his tongue though. I hope he doesn't play into what certainly looks to me like some passive/aggressive senior instigating. Best to not say anything.
The mom can give her money away all she wants. If the time comes when she needs help the poster should ignore her completely. Let the other brother take care of her. He's already been paid to.
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How does your brother help your mother out? I got paid for helping my mother out, as my 3 out-of-state brothers were not involved. My mother refused to pay me, but when a POA brother took over her finances, he saw to it that I was paid. I kept track of my hours, and an hourly rate ($20) was agreed upon. There was no formal caregiver agreement needed, since my mother would have never been eligible for Medicaid.

BUT is this the case with your mother? If there is not a formal caregiver agreement in place (consult w/an elder attorney), then there could be trouble if your mother ever has to apply for Medicaid. Your brother could walk away from helping at that point. Would you be willing to step in and move your mother in with you to take care of her? We see this sort of situation on this forum -- because of messy finances, the elder doesn't qualify for Medicaid because of a penalty period, and then someone ends up being the 24/7/365 caregiver (usually not the one who was given money/assets over the years).
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Is your brother caring for your mom in any way?  Does he do work around her house on a regular basis?  Is your mom incapacitated in any way?  If your mom needed to move into some sort of LTC facility, would she have enough funds to private pay for the next 5 years so that none of her "gift giving" would matter? Have you asked your brother why he is taking large amounts of money from mom?  More information would be helpful.
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disgustedtoo Jul 19, 2021
"More information would be helpful."

A LOT more information would be useful. Without being privy to what's going on, OP and we can't really make any call on this. What is mom's current medical and cognitive condition? What help does bro provide, if any? Why would mom feel "compelled" to show you what she's handed out? Did she say any of it was for help bro provides? Does mom have all legal documents in order? How often does OP see/interact with mom? SO much more info is needed.
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My inlaws did this with my SIL, except my wife and I were the caregivers. The gifts annoyed us at first, especially since SIL lives in ridiculously expensive southern Cal, but we are not needy and we love her sister.
Sometimes we have to help out our children. As others have said, it is her money, although it is sometimes hard not to think about an inheritance in that situation.
If your brother is taking care of your mother, tens of thousands may very well be worth it. Taking care of my mother cost me my health in retirement. It also cost me money, as paying things such as her insurance was easier than fighting about it. Elder care can be devastating for the caregiver, even under different roofs.
I would suggest approaching brother in a positive manner if you feel the need. Instead of asking if he is taking money, tell him you have seen the records and ask if he is being fairly compensated for his efforts. You can judge for yourself if he is being evasive or relieved about the conversation.
Becoming POA is more of a burden than an honor, and once it is triggered you had better be ready to become an on-call caregiver 24/7 if you cannot share the responsibility with your brother.
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disgustedtoo Jul 19, 2021
"...once it is triggered you had better be ready to become an on-call caregiver 24/7..."

For the record, accepting and taking on the role of POA does NOT mean one has to become the care-giver. In some instances, if there are no relatives or trusted people to appoint, people do appoint attorneys to be their POAs. Do you think anyone unrelated, esp attorneys, would agree to be a POA if it meant having to take on the care of the person?

POAs a legal ways to manage someone's finances, sign paperwork, interact with medical care, etc when the person is no longer capable. It does NOT mean one steps in to provide care. THAT is up to each person and whether or not they wish to take on that role.
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When she has the money there is nothing wrong with paying him. Depending on the situation he may be spending a lot of time helping her at the expense of spending time with his family.

It is better than the opposite, I do all the work and get no pay, the others do nothing but leech off her every month.
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