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My mom has been living with my sister for over 20 years. For the past 6 years, mom's physical health has been declining with her energy to do her overall finances. So my sister convinced her to combine their incomes into a joint account and sister would pay the majority of bills. Mom's income is 80%+ greater than sister's SSD. Mom's income has paid for over 10 years the mortgage, all major maintenance and repairs, credit cards, medical expenses and other expenses. Sister believes that since she paid these bills online through their joint account she 'paid' the mortgage and all other bills.
I have a substantial amount of paperwork documenting Mom's income contributions and payments prior to the combining of their incomes into one account.
Additionally, sister has misrepresented to mom that only 1 person can be a signatory on bank accounts and that my brother and I could only be beneficiaries. Both the bank and mom's attorney have told us that we can be signatories and my sister misrepresented this information to mom (recently turned 89).
I guess my question is do I have a leg to stand on to file for financial guardianship of mom's finances. Mom is in relatively good cognitive function, except when sister pushes vicodin when mom is having a bout with her restless leg and leg cramps. Mom's doctor is very well aware of sister's behavior and refused to accept her as a patient when Mom and sister relocated back to where my brother & I along with other family members and mom's close friends.
My brother & I (as well as other family and close friends) recognize Mom is manipulated by sister (some say brainwashed) and is often verbally abused by sister especially when sister is either high on prescribed pain medication or her blood sugar is crashing. Mom feels that sister needs her to take care of her physically and financially. Even the weekly housekeeper is becoming concerned for Mom's well being.
Recently, sister allowed the trash to collect in the apartment that it caused smells which could be smelled outside their apartment. Management has placed them on notice about this, the amount of stuff from boxes, furniture, clothing, etc (yes, sister is a hoarder),as well as sister's friend who recently moved in and is living on the living room couch.
What do I do? call for an endangerment assessment by Dept of Elderly Affairs? or just let it by as my brother feels we should do?

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Retain an attorney. Sister is taking advantage of mom!
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An example FYI of when nice is just not nice.
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Me too. I am taking some time away from this drug addict family. It's just too hard to solve when no one wants help.
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Just to prove what I'm talking about from what I described, please see for yourself and compare what's going on with your mom to what's on the page I will share the link to:

http://www.newhopeforwomen.org/abuser-tricks

Read that page for yourself and see if anything sounds familiar
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Renault, just a comment on taking Coumadin. Although we were initially told by some doctors that consumption of green and other foods with vitamin K that interacted with Coumadin was ideally to be minimal, once we started going to an anticoagulation clinic affiliated with a local hospital, we got much better advice.

The pharmacists who managed the clinic stated that it's isn't true that greens should be avoided but rather that integrating them into the diet gradually and on a regular basis helped stabilize the interaction between Vitamin K and Coumadin.

We did find that this is true - just gradually increase the K foods, make sure that the appointments for monitoring the INR are regular (and perhaps more frequently when you're increasing the K foods), to the extent that you're able to become more involved in your mother's care after action on the sister issue..
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I used Adult Protective Services to evaluate two friends of mine over whom I was give DPOA for their finances and their health care. It was very useful to have that home visit and assessment to give me a clue of what to expect with their dementia.
Key, though, was getting the Power of Attorney authority. The state forms had many options over what I would have control of and I got them all. Their bank was the notary and once I was notarized, I also got on their bank accounts so I could monitor their expenditures at first, and now pay all their bills. I am very careful to let none of their money come to me. I downloaded the POA forms from the state web site for such and another relative of theirs went over the forms with my friends so I was not the one doing this or influencing them. I did that for safety in case anyone thought there might be something fishy going on. It has made the process of seeing to their care so much easier. I am the main decision-maker, but keep the other two POAs informed of the actions I take and how things are going so they are able to take over should I be away or become unable to do this. There are no children or close relatives involved, which makes it easier. I am also the executor of their estate so I know what their wishes are after they pass. We have been friends for over 40 years and I consider it a privilege to be able to help, though at times it has been stressful. A hoarder also probably has obsessive compulsive disorders of some sort, which makes it much harder to deal with them rationally. They will do what it takes to support those compulsions and rationalize why it is o.k.. Those disorders are often treatable by a psychologist, but the person has to want them treated. A report from the adult protective services might help get the court involved to establish a guardianship. An elder care attorney should be able to advise on this. I haven't needed to use one yet, so I am only speculating on this.
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"A friend living on the couch"???
Red flag, red flag, red flag.
Expenses should have decreased divided by 3 persons.
What is the 'friend', their drug dealer?
This should not be happening, added with everything else you have said.

You may not have any power to unravel this, so do call for help, get Mom in assisted living.
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Oh yes, you mentioned how someone just moved in to that house and is living on the couch. It sounds like your sister is most likely taking advantage of moving someone into the house at your mom's expense. This is a sure sign of financial abuse if your mom ends up paying most of the bills.

You said your sister convinced your elderly mom to combine her finances into the same account as hers and that she would pay most of the bills. For someone who's not in the know about clever scamming, they would easily fall for such a trick as this, especially if they are declining mentally. This is another big red flag you should be aware of. Yes, you definitely need to get your mom out of there and you need to move fast.

What you need to do is cleverly outsmart this sister. When she's not there, you really need to get your mom out of there at that time instead of just calling. Another thing you need to do is to get her checked for signs of physical abuse. If you can find a way to check her over for yourself, then you really need to do it. One thing you'll need to do is to look for missing hair. Yes, I'm talking bald spots. This is only one sign of abuse. Other things to look for are unexplained cuts and bruises. Also check for other injuries. If she has any signs of physical abuse, you definitely need to make a police report immediately.

Again, take advantage of the sisters absence and use it to your moms advantage and get her out of there before anything else has a chance to happen. Abuse is an endless vicious cycle that never just goes away on its own. Eventually your mom could very well end up dead if you don't get her out of there. I'm a survivor who happens to have lost a sister to the same abuse I barely survived. This is why I know what I'm talking about, because what taught me many things is first-hand experience and hand-to-hand combat against my abuser trying to kill me. When you're not there, you really don't know what kind of bottles your mom may be fighting. When you're in the fight for your life, it's do or die, fight or die. You can help me save your mom's life by acting now to save her.
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After reviewing your post again, something you described rang a bell:

From what you described about the phone situation, it sounds like a control issue is going on.

From what you described about interfering with your visit on visitation day, it sounds to me like isolation.

These two things should really raise some red flags with you and everyone else involved. That's because these two signs indicate abuse. I recognize this because I myself am a survivor of childhood abuse. Abuse never discriminates. Abuse can happen to anyone of any age, race, background, rich or poor. What you need to do is to make a report and take a cop with you over to the house. All you have to do when you make the report is to tell the responding officer that you suspect abuse against your mom because there are signs of it. Just tell them what you told us here and specify the isolation and the control issues. It sounds to me like your sister is definitely hiding something. I strongly suspect that abuse most likely has something to do with why your mom agreed to combine her finances into the other account, she was most likely cleverly coerced through manipulation.

You should also recognize something else:

You mentioned that your mom has been paying several of the expenses. I know that room and board is definitely not cheap, nor are other related expenses. If your mom is getting more money than your sister, then she may very likely have been financially abused and taken advantage of because of that. This is what it sounds like to me.
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WillardMoxy thank you for your info about Restless Leg - I've taken mom to chair yoga classes which she did like. Also, her dr. both primary and ortho had home pt and off-site pt for her which helped a great deal. Difficult with the food changes though, she has a great appetite but doesn't like change and with being on Coumadin unable to up the greens.

I want to thank all who have contributed answers so far. I am planning to get away for a few days to clear my head and upon return make decisions. Your answers are aiding with my decision. Thank you
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To answer Cheryl's comment, yes, my brother and I are quite concerned with mom's physical well being. After mom was hospitalized in August 2014, I took control of her medications and dr. visits until she and sister moved out of my home to their own apartment in May 2015. I continued with the medication monitoring until November 2015 when I was told by sister that I was not needed and to stop treating mom like a 5 year old.
Just as a refresher, mom lived full time with sister (out of state) from 2006, prior to that beginning in 1992 she flew to sister's at least 3-4 times a year for lengthy visit up to 60 days. After mom sold the family home in 2003, I promised I would always have a room for her when she would return to the family's home state. I had the bedroom set she and dad had (until his death in 1988) from the wedding day moved into my apartment as well as other pieces of furniture and other things to help keep her comfortable.
I have helped sort through her extensive clothing & costume jewelry wardrobe which sister adds to weekly via her shopping trips.
My brother and I call her frequently and if sister is not around we are able to find out how things truly are, if sister is around it is a short conversation or sister yells out from the background and/or takes over the phone.
We try to make dates with mom, but often sister interferes on the appointed date. It is a most frustrating situation.
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Yes, it sounds to me like going for guardianship would be a very smart move on your part. What you may want to do is go for complete guardianship and not just financial. Complete guardianship gives you power over all of your mom's affairs including financial. Complete guardianship also gives you the power to say where your mom lives, so this is completely in your favor if you have complete guardianship
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just a comment about restless leg syndrome and leg cramps. I had extreme bouts with both for years and am finally cured. Sometimes we seek complicated answers when the truth is simple. After years of suffering finally two things worked for me. Better nutrition was key for curing my RLS. Eating well isn't easy but one MUST eat those green veggies and take a good vitamin supplement with iron. For my leg cramps stretching the legs cured mine. As we age tendons and ligaments shrink and can cause muscles to react by twisting and cramping. I carefully stretch my legs daily just by touching my toes and holding a few seconds and by stretching them out in bed. It has worked so well that I have started my own brand of yoga. At age seventy four I have never taken any medications except a very recent blood pressure pill.
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just a comment about restless leg syndrome and leg cramps. I had extreme bouts with both for years and am finally cured. Sometimes we seek complicated answers when the truth is simple. After years of suffering with no help from doctors finally two things worked for me. Better nutrition was key for curing my RLS. Eating well isn't always easy but one MUST eat those green veggies and take a good vitamin supplement with iron. For my leg cramps stretching the legs cured mine. As we age tendons and ligaments shrink and can cause muscles to react by twisting and cramping. I carefully stretch my legs daily just by touching my toes and holding a few seconds and by stretching them out in bed. It has worked so well that I have started my own brand of yoga. At age seventy four I have never taken any medications except a very recent blood pressure pill.
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If your mother is in a situation where she is being taken advantage of or in unsafe conditions, you should absolutely speak up, but be careful. I had to call APS when my mother (before we got her moved) was hoarding dogs and the house reeked of urine, she wasnt taking care of herself, etc. She had no money to live on, was feeding her 5 big dogs first, then "borrowing" money from me and my siblings. I was basically told that they cant intervene just because I do not like her decisions. YIKES They basically stated that she can do what she wants with her money (of which she had none). YIKES so my advice would be document, document, document. Maybe ask building management if they would call APS first. Or call your AAA and see if they have case managers who can come out and do a home visit. I do not know why your sis is on SSD, but that raises a red flag too. Sooner or later your mom is going to become too much for your sister, either physically or emotionally. Better to do something while she is still competent to particiapte and cooperate.
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Yes, you should do that while she can make her own decisions. I have already done that and have had it notarized and gave it to my oldest daughter to read at my passing. I really had no reason because my children will not fight about anything and I know that for sure.
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Looking out for your mother's financial security is taking care of your mother. You can't allow your sister to drain her money or scam her. That goes on so much these days. If you suspect gross misconduct call up social services or ask the bank to monitor any unusual withdrawals. Elders need to be protected.
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Have you considered having your mother come and live with you or your brother, that way you or brother can manage Her money your self?
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I think it is interesting that you are concerned with your mother's money and not her person. You never suggested taking care of your mother.
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try getting DPOA first-does sister have this now ? you didn't state one way or the other. make sure you or someone also gets DPOA for healthcare while you are at it for that side of things. finincial guardianship is more expensive and time consuming to get.
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You might use the hoarding situation and cite management's concern to contact APS, use them to support getting a change, and leverage that to file for guardianship. But I would first try to get your mother to change her DPOA to you and/or your brother, although he seems to be more inclined not to intervene.

Financial issues notwithstanding, the physical situation will probably result in a crisis sooner than later, so I would try to use that to get control away from your sister.
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