Follow
Share

About 10 years ago, my dad who had Parkinson's, decided to give my brother $150,000 towards the purchase of a property that had a small house on the grounds that my parents would live in when up north. None of this was documented in writing or with an attorney. My dad simply told me about it, and said I'd get my share of that further down the road. I didn't think it was a good idea, but my brother had always been rather detached from them so I thought maybe it would be a good thing and he would be right next door so more involved. They own a condo in Florida anyway where they spent 7 months of the year. For the Mass. house they paid all expenses and utilities except property tax, paid all the landscaping for both houses and did some upgrades like finishing the basement and rewiring the electric. Long story short, my brother had serious financial problems, marital problems, and substance abuse problems. Proceeded to borrow from my parents and then from my mom once my dad passed away in 2015.


He currently owes my mother $65,000 and has now sold the property (which contained both houses) because he could no longer afford it. My mother will stay in Florida, since she has no Massachusetts home anymore. She got no proceeds from the sale of the property. I am seriously worried about this situation and have been for some time. I told my brother so and asked when he might be able to pay my mom back and he raged at me in such a hostile way that I have not wanted to speak with him and have resorted to only communicating in writing so he can't upset me. He said some very mean things. He basically thinks he doesn't owe my mother back the money since he delayed selling the house in order to "care" for them, causing himself financial struggles, and so they essentially owed him that money anyway! So, my question is, do I have any recourse to try to get some of this money back for my mom? I do have a promissory note he signed (but that was not notarized) saying he would pay her the $50,000 upon sale of the house. He has not done so. Her savings are seriously diminished such that she could not afford an assisted living anymore and probably can't stay where she is for too much longer since it's an active senior golf community. Aside from the financial piece, I am very angry about how all this has come to pass , particularly since my mother continues to cover for my brother, make excuses for his completely unacceptable behavior, and generally stick her head in the sand about how dysfunctional he is. How can I cope with feeling this way and also deal with my brother as needed regarding my mom's care and financial situation?? Am open to suggestions. Thanks for listening....My poor husband is tired of me talking about this.

Find Care & Housing
Wow, you have a full plate. Speak to an elder attorney. I had an older brother who eventually died from complications due to a substance abuse problem. I feel your pain. I loved my brother dearly as a brother but hated his actions. He caused a great deal of pain to our family. My mother always forgave him.

Someone please tell me, which is the way to be, unconditional love as my mother had for my brother or setting boundaries to keep sanity and protect ourselves. My mom made me feel guilty about not letting my brother live with us even though she knew it wasn’t a good idea. Help the lost sheep, I guess.

My childhood had been so confusing due to his addiction. I had to stop the insanity as an adult.

A relationship with a son is very different than a relationship with a brother. I realize that. Where does a person draw the line though?

I admire you for wanting to protect your mother. Trouble is, they defend the substance abuser to the very end.

That being said, I have enormous compassion for those struggling with addiction. No one wants to be an addict. Rehab takes several attempts. No one beats it the first time. Common to relapse. I desperately tried to help my brother beat his demons. All the while, my mother was an enabler who undermined me and he thought he had her approval.

She didn’t approve of his drug use. She wanted to ‘pray’ it away. I would tell her to pray and do her part by not supporting him. She couldn’t do that. She didn’t realize she was hurting him and everyone else by accepting his behavior. She had no boundaries set in place. He took advantage of her also.

When he went to jail for armed robbery, to support his habit, he asked my younger brother to bring drugs to him in prison. My younger brother drove my parents to visit him. Of course, my younger brother didn’t bring him drugs. He admitted later after getting out of prison that he did drugs in prison.

After a horrible accident, I went to the hospital to visit him. The only family member to visit was me. He asked me to buy him drugs. I didn’t do it.

My mother asked me to take care of him. I took care of him for many years. Taking him to the doctors and hospital but he became so unstable I had to stop. It broke my mother’s heart when I said it was time for me to let go. I couldn’t care for my mom, plus my family and him. I was losing my mind.

You have to set boundaries. My brother had death threats from owing dealers money. His walking cane had a built in knife that he concocted. It became dangerous to be with him. Not to mention I was constantly worrying about if he had drugs on him while in my car transporting him back and forth.

He ended up homeless. An old veteran that he met took him in. He ended up dying in hospice from hepatitis. My poor elderly mother rode in the car for many miles with me to hospice to say her goodbyes to him. I was the last person at his side as he died. I planned his burial.

I asked God to give me the grace to forgive him.
I completely forgave him. He was a troubled soul. I did love him as a brother. I truly did but I hated that heroin addiction ruined his life and affected all of us as well.

Trust me when I say, it never gets better unless a person kicks the habit. If there is anything else to take from your mother, he will take it to support his habit. Get help. Protect your mom.

Many addicts beat it and live productive lives but it has to be their choice. We can’t force them. God bless you. Been there. Feel your pain.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
Report

Thanks to all of you for your responses. My mom would not be willing to cooperate in trying to get the money back through a lawyer, at least that is what my sense of the situation is. She just visited my brother and his wife in their new house and when the topic of the money he owes came up he told her he's "working it." My mother said that's as far as the conversation went, and her attitude is "well, just have to let it go". She's very non-confrontational, a trait I've unfortunately also gotten from her! :( She has an attorney in FL whom I consulted over a year ago about this scenario and he said she would need to ask him to write my brother a letter trying to recover the money. So I guess I've known for a while that legal action is probably the only way to get her anything. But we are somehow unwilling to go that route, I guess because doing so is like kicking a hornet's nest. Another friend of mine suggested I ask the lawyer himself to call her and tell her that she should take my brother off as trustee (there's not much remaining anyway from when my dad set it up) and also have him try to recover those funds for her. I might try that, although I'm not sure he would do it and in any case it will cost her some money. But it might work out since if I suggest anything, it's like I'm taking this action against my brother as some sort of sibling rivalry thing. Thank again for listening.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to 2sunsmum
Report

A promissory note is a legal and binding contract, no notary needed.

However, if mom won't pursue collecting on the note I don't know what your recourse would be.

Does she understand that she could potentially be homeless because of her little boy? Medicaid will penalize her for gifting him the money, the place she lives now will evict her without payment and her son is long gone with her money. Which doesn't obligate you to be her solution.

Let us know what the attorney says, I would consult with multiple attorneys, all should offer you a free consultation, if not, find a different one. Have all your paperwork and write out your questions to make each consultation as productive and informative as possible.

Good luck!
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
Report

I've got a brother like this. Many of us here do (some have crazy sisters, but adult brothers take "first place" when it comes to elder abuse). You can't have a productive conversation because he goes from zero to sneering/demeaning/violent before you can even begin. I know how horrible it feels to watch your mother cover for your brother endlessly, even at the expense of her security. The sad truth is that if she has capacity she has the right to make bad decisions (mine has too, over and over!). I agree you should find a good lawyer who focuses on elder law - not just an estate planner but one who has experience with elder abuse and conflict within families. A good one should be able to do something with that promissory note. And this is a good place to vent your anger so that you don't wear out the sympathetic ears of your husband and friends. Good luck and keep us posted!

Jane
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to janeinspain
Report

This is what I would do, I would get copies of the bank statement that the 65,000 was withdrawn and the promissory note and take it to a lawyer. Like JoAnn said, usually the first consult is free and see what he/she says and go from there!

It is better to know than it is about wondering about it! She might be out the money, but at least you will know!
But I think a promissory note is concerned a contact and doesn't need to be notarized.

Best of Luck!
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Shell38314
Report

If there is a promissory not don't think it has to be notarized, just signed. I would consult with a Lawyer. Usually the first appt is free.

Such a shame parents didn't get the sale in writing and be put on the deed. Does Mom have records showing the money going from them to him.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

It’s very likely your mom is out the money and there’s nothing you can do about it. I would take steps if she’ll cooperate at all to protect what remaining money she has from your brother. He’s proven he’ll take from her without regard for her, so she needs looking out for if it’s possible. But if she won’t cooperate and has a sound mind, ultimately it’s her money and she can spend as she pleases
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Daughterof1930
Report

Go talk to a lawyer.

there may be nothing you can do, or you may be able to get
somthing from him with the threat of a lawyer.

My bet is, you will get nothing, Very poor decisions in your parents part.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Katiekate
Report

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter