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Hello,



I am in need of some advice. My mom is 79 and my dad is 82 and they live in their own home which has a reverse mortgage attached to it (which is at its limit). It has come to my attention that they are completely broke. No savings at all, and on top of that they have an unknown (to me) amount of credit card debt and personal loans. The only income that they have is Social Security. This all came about after many years of financial support for my sister who has had mental health issues (hoarding, OCD, eating disorder) which caused her to have a lot of medical bills, but on top of that she has always lived beyond her means and when she would get in trouble my parents would bail her out. She’s been fired from jobs at least 4 times, and during periods of unemployment (which sometimes would last a year) my parents would pay all of her living expenses: rent, food, medical etc. My sister has never been married and doesn’t have any kids so she is completely alone. My dad asked me for money last month (which I gave), and that is how I learned how dire their situation is. My sister is currently employed and I asked my parents if they have asked her for help but my mom said she is unable to help because it is hard for her to be single and pay her own bills. (My sister lives extravagantly in a downtown Chicago high rise apartment.) We are in Colorado. I am married, my husband makes a decent living and I work part time. We have 2 sons, one who we just put through college, and another who we are currently helping through college. We have always been responsible with our money, we have a good retirement savings account, but we don’t have the means to financially support my parents, especially with one in college. I also feel like if I give my parents money, it’s basically just my sister’s issues trickling down to me and my family and becoming our problem, which I don’t agree with. This is a very emotional situation for me due to the complex feelings I have about my sister and the choices my parents have made. My dad was a very successful businessman and had a lot of money at one time, and now at 82 years old he is trying to become employed as a consultant. He told me that he needs to bring in about $9,000 a month to support himself and my mom. I have tried to have them set up a meeting with a financial advisor that my husband and I can be a part of but they keep pushing that off, with my dad saying he’s got job interviews and that it will all work out. I don’t want to insult him by insinuating that he’s not going to become employed, but he is 82 and he does have elderly mannerisms in the way he presents himself so I just think we need to be realistic about if that’s actually going to work out for him. I don’t want to treat my parents like children but if he really needs $9,000 a month in income then I can’t help but think that they are in a very serious financial situation that is going to become a very big problem for me and my husband pretty soon, and that we should be working on it now. I am pretty sure I will get no help at all from my sister and she is my only sibling so it’s all going to fall on me. I just don’t know what to do next but I feel like there is a sledgehammer above our heads that’s about to fall. I know this is a complicated situation, but being so emotionally involved I just don’t think I’m going to be able to make decisions clearly.

1) Your dad will never make $9000 a month as a consultant unless he has some magical skill that no one else does. He's unlikely to be hired at all at 82 years old.
2) Your parents are living wayyyyy beyond their means.
3) You've suggested a financial planner or, better, an elder law attorney and they've dismissed you.
4) You are going to be hit up by them for money and you've got to learn to say NO.
5) With that kind of loan and credit card debt and a reverse mortgage they'll soon need to declare bankruptcy which will help them to wipe the slate clean but they'll have to learn to live on their Social Security income.
6) You must keep saying NO when they ask for money.
7) Don't expect your sister to do anything and expect your parents to lay guilt onto you.
8) Continue saying NO. Contact an elder law attorney NOW even if they won't go with you. You can talk to the attorney about your parent's situation and get pointed in the right direction for the help your parents are going to need.
9)Repeat Steps 6 and 8 as needed.
10)Practice saying NO in front of the mirror.
Helpful Answer (27)
Reply to jkm999
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The credit card debt and personal loans don't matter at this point. Since they basically have nothing then there is nothing for these companies to take. They need to stop paying on the debt and declare bankruptcy. If they refuse then whatever don't give them money to pay these debts or any of their bills.

Your dad is living in a fantasy world that he needs 9000 a month to live on. Give me a break. Don't give your parents money. This is their problem not yours.

Believe me there are many resources for broke seniors. HUD housing etc but you will have to start looking into this stuff now. Some have waiting lists.

And whatever you do, DO NOT. I repeat DO NOT move them into your home. Ever.
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Reply to sp19690
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Jayme, I told both my parents, if you need access to my checkbook, I will see all of your financial records 1st. Because I am NOT paying to bail you out of poor choices. If that means you can't help someone else without borrowing or taking money from me, so be it. Everyone involved needs to live within their means. If sister gets ugly, file a restraining order against her so she can't dump her garbage on your parents or you.

I would turn her in for financial exploitation of vulnerable seniors. I don't walk on egg shells so people can be axholes and beggars.

Realize that you ARE NOT responsible to fix this mess they have made. You can help with a budget, get them services they need through social services and protect them from your sister by turning her sorry self over to the authorities but, you should not prop up their finances by giving them money. It's a barrel with no bottom and it seems as though your sister has them brainwashed.

Best of luck. This is a rotten situation to be in.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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iameli Sep 25, 2022
I think your first sentence highlights an issue that hasn't been emphasized enough. Nobody should be throwing money into a black hole, regardless of who is asking. It sounds like OP has already been asked, and has given money but doesn't know the full financial picture. This is something many of us probably need to be aware of. My own parent is looking at changing her living situation due to finances and so far has only hinted around about the situation (has not asked for assistance--yet). But I will keep this in mind if she does. The full picture is revealed to all the siblings before any help is considered. I have a brother who would probably open the checkbook and expect the three of us to contribute equally, without asking for the details. Thank you, you've helped me, and others I'm sure, get ahead of this.
(4)
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First step, do not give them any more money. They brought this on themselves and it is unfair of them to expect you to bail them out. The compounded problem is they will continue to fund your sister with your bail out money. Refuse to be an easy solution until they grant you access to all their financial information. Can they sell their home (and I assume no profit ) and get a cheap apartment? If your father is so business savy, why not ask him what he plans to do if he can't find a job. Please do not ride in on your white horse to save the day. Put this on your parents to come up with solutions that doesn't involve your bank account.
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Reply to lkdrymom
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Jayme1213 Sep 19, 2022
Thank you for this. I actually do need to hear straightforward answers like this. I have a lot of guilt about the anger I have towards this situation, mainly because my mom has always shut down my feelings and we have always walked on eggshells around my sister just to avoid her anger, which can cut to the bone.
(13)
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“They are in a very serious financial situation”. Yes absolutely. “That is going to become a very big problem for me and my husband pretty soon”. NO, unless you are crazy.

You are in an unusual situation, in that it is quite recent for you to discover what a mess they have got themselves in. You need to turn around your own beliefs and actions, quite suddenly. You have always treated them with respect. Changing is a shock.

You still think “I don’t want to treat my parents like children” and “I don’t want to insult him by insinuating that he’s not going to become employed”. However commonsense says there’s “a sledgehammer above THEIR heads that’s about to fall’. Perhaps the best thing you can do is to lay it all on the line to both of them, then leave them to think about it. Give them sensible options (some have been suggested here). Make it clear that you will not be the solution if they won’t look at them. The bad news coming from you may be the kindest way for it to be clear.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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If you can't financially support your parents, you need to step away now. Your own retirement accounts will be quickly depleted and you will potentially putting your own kids in the same position when you get older. This is not your problem, it is theirs. As with many elderly people, they will never admit it and will probably only face it when a crisis arises.

If they continue to face the reality of their situation, there is nothing you can do but refuse to financially help them.
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Reply to Mountaingyrl
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These are their problems -- period. You shouldn't be punished (or punish yourself) for being fiscally responsible while you parents and sister have not.

The only way kids learn fiscal responsibility is by earning their money and paying their own bills like gas and insurance. Now your parents and sister get to learn the same lesson, but they won't with you trying to bail them out. Empathize with them over their situation, offer suggestions for living within their means if asked, but that's where it ends.

Your suggestion that they use a financial adviser is excellent, but if they won't even do that, then you know how serious they are about fixing their problems. Don't take their monkey on your back, because you can save someone who won't save themselves.
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Reply to MJ1929
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Do keep in mind that if they’re going to live on Social Security, the amount of money will change when either of them passes. Make them aware of that situation ASAP because it needs to factor in to the decisions they must make now. I agree with the others that you are not responsible for the financial mess they’ve made. Take care of you and yours, not them. You might as well distance yourself from your sister too.
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Reply to Fawnby
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Jayme1213, I can understand how frustrating your situation can be. My sig-other always was frugal, lived below his means, etc., yet his brother had filed two financial bankruptcies because he just loved to show off.

Your Dad said he need $9k per month to support him and your Mom? Really??? He really needs to roll back his lifestyle. And downsize into something more affordable. Or is he worried about what the Joneses would think? Heavens, the Joneses are probably up to their eyeballs in debt, too. Or is your Dad including all the debt he owes in that $9k.

As mentioned by others, your parents need to speak with a financial adviser or even an Elder Law Attorney. Time to get all their ducks in a row. And for them to wash off the ATM off their foreheads in regard to your sister's lifestyle. I know they meant well, but it's not working as sister hasn't learned a darn thing.
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Reply to freqflyer
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Your parent's and sister's financial issues arent your problem.

Give them nothing, and let them pay the price for their bad decisions.
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Reply to ZippyZee
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