Is there anything legal to stop my brothers taking advantage of our parents who have reached a state of denial?

Asked by

When my grandfather passed he left my mother an industrial bldg with 4 rental units that both parents ran a machine shop in. When 2 units became vacant my brother took over hoarding inside them. They tried to tell him to leave but he became aggressively agitated and believes using the buildings is his birth right. They changed the locks but then my father gave him a key. This hoarding is inherited from my father who thinks his son can do no wrong and enables him; however the brother is a dreamer and thinks using it to create his dreams in, will make him rich any day now. He is 62 and has been saying this his entire life. He lives off money they pay him for odd jobs at the units. My father; 88; is mostly house ridden on a walker except for short trips out to doctors; leaving my mother, 83; to handle all the finances and problems with the building that became vacant about 4 years ago when this started. They refuse to close the business so a second brother can have a job. The second brother refuses to take over the business and is getting paid from their personal money while they pay taxes and maintain it all while receiving no income from the business or rent. I have nothing to do with the rental or the business due to the bothers harassing me out of it all years ago.

My mother has macular degeneration and has lost 40lbs in 1.5 year which she refuses to continue with tests to find out why. I know she cannot handle the business they still own in 1 of the 4 rentals while handling all finances and caring for my father who wouldn't eat without her shopping and cooking for him. Every time I call my father tells me my mother needs help and can't do it anymore. He claims she is also forgetful. I know she cannot balance her accounts and chooses to have the businesses secretary help her; which I find insulting because she is trusting an outsider more than her own daughter. I've told my parents I can help but they will not give me or my husband POA in any way because my bothers would be upset and I refuse to pay bills for the vacant rentals and business that they are using. They know this is all wrong and up until last year said they were working on getting it resolved; but now as they have progressed in age and have given up trying. They refuse to talk about it anymore and only want to talk small talk as if this huge problem does not exist. My brothers are both abusing and taking advantage of my parents financially due to their age. I might add that in all these years I have been the one who has been the constant married for 38 years with 3 adult productive children who has been entertaining them with dinners while the two bothers did their own thing never even inviting them to their homes! It's true the first brother has nothing to offer since he lives in a townhome gifted to him that he also hoards in. Now they need care and I can hardly stand to go to their home from the upset of what is going on that is out of my control. Last week my mother needed assistance searching her email for an email I had sent her I asked her if she read. Turns out my brother (who uses my mothers computer weekly when he stops their to eat) had permanently deleted every email I ever sent her. She had emails in her trash bin from 2014 but not one from me! She has lost the ability to even realize what he is doing and is convinced he would not be dishonest. All he has to do is stop by once and week to eat and she is in her glory. All the while my father expects me to help her while the two son's take everything. I don't know if there is anything legally I can do to put a stop to my bothers taking advantage their elderly parents. They've done it for years but the difference now is my parents do not have the ability to stop them and are in complete denial at this point. Any suggestions on how to deal with this ongiong catastrophe is greatly appreciated.

Answers 1 to 10 of 48
Well, you can petition for a Guardian to be appointed, BUT there has to be credible evidence that one or the other of them is legally incompetent. AND because of the conflict, none of the children will be appointed. Instead, a court appointed Guardian is paid, by their funds, to manage their assets.
So which would cost more? AND are you ready for all of them to cut ties with you completely in their anger? Think it through.
Jspylock, I can understand you wanting to step back and watch from afar... otherwise it would be like poking a hornet's nest. Is there any income coming in from the business?

Sadly an industrial building sitting semi-vacant is just going to cave in on itself. If your parents aren't updating, it is only going to get worse. Try to convince your family to either sell the business, thus ask for rent on the building from the new business owner, or sell the business plus the building to someone interested in that type of work. When it comes to commercial real estate/businesses, it can take years to get an interested party. Or maybe a competitor might be interested in buying it all.

Stop sending Mom emails, she's at the age where today's technology is slipping away from her. Call her on the phone. Your brother can't erase voice to voice conversations.
If I understand correctly and the brother(s) are hoarding in the building, it's a health hazard, for the other 2 units as well as for adjacent buildings. You could anonymously contact the local health agency and report it. That might at least get some action on cleaning the place up.

Are the other 2 units rented, and if so, are they drawing enough income to maintain expenses on the buildings?

I suspect your parents are just too overwhelmed with their own declining health to deal with the enabled brothers and the problems created any longer. And that's the problem - this is an endemic situation.

There might be a possibility of getting injunctions against the brothers to keep them from harassing your parents, but it seems as though your parents side with them.

Maybe others will have some suggestions; this seems like a difficult situation and extremely frustrating for you.

I agree, it's not the time to try for guardianship. I don't care if the two brothers cut me off because I already do not care to ever see the first one who is flat out stealing from the entire family with his greed. The other is selfish and has never done anything for me and only contacts to complain occasionally, like once a year; even though we all live in the same area. His significant other informed me over a brief holiday greeting call that it is the daughter's responsibility to care for the parents. Her way of letting me know my brother will do nothing to care for them. Wow; no surprise there!
There is no profit income from the business. Therefore business is not paying rental and my parents are absorbing those costs from there savings. While my parents do not let me know the details (that in itself is very frustrating) at times they have slipped and let it be known they have paid for the business from their personal accounts. Four years ago when the roof leaked the renter of the the two rear buildings moved out. The reason the roof leaked was because my parents were paying my unqualified brother to repair it so he could have income. My husband stepped in to help getting several quotes for the roof repair to make the building desirable to rent. Meanwhile, brother started taking over the building. Then they paid him again to work on it. At the point my husband gave up. My mother never looked in the building and believed father was handling it. Then a year later brother #2 calls to tell me how bad it is.

It is true the building is deteriorating. As far as selling the business or the buildings; they tried to go that direction but the business is not worth much and brother #2 would not assist. My husband and I could do it since we both have experience in manufacturing; but again, parents won't take our help for fear brothers will be angry. They seem to worry about fairness in that sense but not in the sense of what is being lost by all this. There was one business who wanted to buy the building at one point but older brother told them it was his. I think he scared them out of the idea for fear of dealing with him. This was told to me by a mutual contact. That ended that.
It is one brother hoarding in the two rentals, the second brother soaking them dry in the business that makes no money. In a sense the second brother is as tied as I am but during the Holiday's I called and told him he either needs to take over the business or help them sell it because father is home bound and mom can't handle it. He hung up on me. Then when I said the same to his partner; she replied he just works there. It's my parents job to do that. That was the same time she informed me it's usually the daughter's job to take care of the parents. It seems talking to them is a waste of time. You are on the mark with my parents being overwhelmed and at this point it is not possible for them to handle it. In fact, they need living assistance. I first logged onto this site to investigate finding in home assistance. Then I stopped because I thought, how can I look for help while my mother is not eliminating the other issues that need to be dealt with first. It is embarrassing to ask for help while she is still doing these other things that need to be given up.

Obtaining injunctions on the brothers is what I would need to do but it's true that my parents will side with them out of there loyalty to them. That is concerning. What chances of it being successful if my parents won't acknowledge it needs to be done?
Jspylock, does your brother have in writing that he own the building and/or the business? Is the building Deed in his name? Do your parents want to sell the building and/or business?

If yes, then seek out a really good Commercial Realtor who isn't afraid of standing toe to toe with your brother. The Commercial Realtor can sell the building and/or the business. Sell one or both while your parents are still able to understand a Listing Agreement and sign same.

The building can be sold, and your parents could possibly remain as a tenant under a signed lease, but that would depend on the new owner. If your parents paid themselves rent and had a lease, then the new owner would need to honor said lease.
Top Answer
Jspy, this is the way I see the situation, summing it up.

Negatives first.

1. Your father apparently is trying to guilt you into helping your mother, but tying your hands b/c of the partiality shown to the brothers. Your mother is not getting the health care she needs.

2. Your father has an unbalanced, disproportionate opinion of what you should do while allowing your brothers free rein to be irresponsible, and in fact having indulged them in that behavior apparently for years.

3. Your parents will not allow you legal authority to handle their affairs.

4. One brother interferes with your relationship with your mother by deleting your e-mails.

5. Your parents are withholding details of the "business" from you, thus shutting you out from being able to assess whether there's any value left in either the business (unlikely) or the buildings.

6. Given the way by which your brothers have been indulged and allowed to be irresponsible, I see no reason for that to change, or for your parents (who are overwhelmed) to be able to handle that. So the brothers are likely going to continue to be irresponsible.

7. Your parents are apparently draining their own assets through enabling and indulging the brothers, while shutting you out from making any positive recommendations, choices or taking any action to stem the flow of money.

Are there any positives to this situation? The only ones I see are that you're the only one assessing the situation and seeing that there are going to be very negative financial repercussions if/when your parents need financial assistance, or medical assistance in the home b/c of their failing health situations.

The basic, bottom line question is what can you do?

Can you change your parents' indulgent and enabling behavior? No.
Can you change or affect your brother's irresponsible behavior? No.

Does your father see you as the automatic choice for in-home assistance? Apparently yet.

Is he willing to allow you to participate in the business/financial decisions as a part of the total package of assisting him and your mother? No.

You would have responsibility, possibly meddling in your care by the brothers, and become a family Cinderella. You'd be blamed for any medical and/or care decisions by your brothers, and possibly your father.

If you accept the responsibility to care for your parents, will it drag you in like a whirlpool, affecting your health, and making you the workhorse of the family? Yes.

Is this a bad situation? Absolutely.

Hard as it is, I think this is a situation that cannot be turned around because of your parents' allowance of the irresponsible behavior of your brothers. Could you stand in front of a landslide or tsunami and stop it? No.

Honestly, I don't see any choice except to (a) arrange for outside care for your parents so at least their health is monitored and (b) accept that the building situation is beyond your control, as is their financial situation which is likely only going to deteriorate.

Women are fixers and try to correct injustices and I do understand that you can't just walk away and leave your parents. So choose your priorities.

Instead of putting any money into what is probably a dilapidating building, put it instead into home care for your parents.

I have been very blunt b/c I think you're experiencing so much frustration, perhaps guilt, and consternation that shows in your posts that I'm hoping my bluntness will allow you to see that this is not a fixable situation.

Rainmom, I wondered that same thing. This is what she wrote:

"I've told my parents I can help but they will not give me or my husband POA in any way because my bothers would be upset and I refuse to pay bills for the vacant rentals and business that they are using."

So it's not clear if the brothers are proxy or there's no POA in place at all.

But you raise very valid points; these parents need Wills, or their assets, such as they may be, will be subject to intestate laws. That might actually be beneficial though as the brothers wouldn't be able to exploit the system.
This mess sound so much like mine. Only, my father is dead and I have only one brother. I've learned that you can only do so much. To help your parents. That I have been destroying my own life and health. And not getting anywhere. Its so extremely frustrating. I'm begining to learn to distance myself emotionally from mom. And be ready to help financially or searching for place for mom to live if ever neccesary. She wont want to leave brother to live with me. And unless it's emergency I dont want to take mom in.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support