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in these accounts? He is already on a joint checking account which I understand is now legally his money. There is a lot of money involved here and I am getting nervous.

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Thanks JeffKent, Of course your clients wouldn't have filed a court case if there was no money. The problem is what is perceived as unfairness. Try, if you have little children, giving one $20.00 and the other nothing. See how well that goes. We may be adults but our feelings are deep rooted.

Yes, a parent can leave all their money to one child, play favorites all day long. But what kind of legacy does this leave. My husbands father left a large estate, equally divided, and all four children are happy and friendly with one another. He was always open and thoughtful with his children. Made sure they could survive in the world and yet have a soft place to fall. My problem is I have no soft place to fall, it is nothing to do with money.

However for the law profession (and i have a daughter, and a son-in-law who are corporate attorneys in Boston, as well as a son-in-law in Family Law)it is good to have the dysfunctional family don't you think? Keeps business going. Thanks for you input.
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I'm not sure if your reply to my comment is sarcastic or sincere. I do recognize the first part of my response is not directly related to your original question. I think your original question was answered in the thread, and I didn't want to repeat what was already said.

I did, however, take the time to read through some 32 replies to your original question including your comments. My comment certainly stated the obvious, but it also added to the discussion by raising "sufficient mental capacity" and "undue influence" to the discussion. Those 2 issues do directly impact on your original question.

I'm an attorney and I, in fact, had a similar case where a family member who lived close to and who took care of the elderly person was put on all the legal documents to receive all the elderly persons money/property. The other family member took her (the new *beneficiary*) to court alleging "diminished mental capacity" and "undue influence" by a care giver challenging the new legal documents. Everybody in that case said, "It's not about the money." I couldn't figure out what it was about if it wasn't about the money. Something tells me that if she didn't have anything nobody would have filed a court case.

I hope you truly appreciate the time I took to read through the thread and give you my input. On the other hand I don't mean to get into your business if you don't want me to. I simply responded to a question/thread on a public forum on the internet.
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JeffKent, thank you for informing me that this is Mom's money and she can do what she wants with it. I don't believe I ask that question. As many on this site, I ask a simple question and get a lecture. My Mom has been cruel to me. It is not about money. She can give my brother everything she has, I can sue (Ihave three attorneys in my family).

You can basically do whatever you want in this world, but you do have to suffer the consequences. Sometimes those consequences are not pretty.
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It's your mom's money and she can do whatever she wants to do with it. On the other hand if your mom has diminished mental capacity and your mom putting your brother on all her accounts is the product of undue influence, you can challenge that in court. You should talk to an attorney where your mom lives who specializes in this area if you think your brother is getting mom to do things she doesn't really want to do. Based on what I've read on this thread, your mom is in control of her faculties and everything she did is "legal."
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Lilliput, Let's just start with the initial break down of a basically dysfunctional family. Just before Dad died, I mean weeks, I suggested to my brother that Mom have all her ducks in a row, POA, will etc. Didn't have a clue what my Mom and Dad had financially. She gave in when my brother talked to her but insisted I be told nothing. It seems my Dad had told her I came to him for money, get this "to feed my kids". Now, my husband is a professional with a good job, we lived in a nice home and had alot of money in the bank. The problem had been me venting to Mom about how cheap my husband is (my mistake), and he is. HOWEVER, this should have had nothing to do with me being included in the financial planning of my parents. Yes my brother is the big cheese because he is male and we are southern (says alot), and he is full of himself. I have confronted Mom several times over that past four years about leaving me out and how hurt I am. She doesn't care and my brother just says "that's the way she wants it". So.... he will take care of her, this is the guy who lives 5 miles from her and won't even do one single chore for her. She can hire it out, he says. He has two homes, his wife has had good inheritance and new cars, also good jobs. I have warned both my brother and Mom not to put all your eggs in one basket. I will not go for guardianship if he dies, I tild Mom this as well. She will be a ward of the state and they will plow through her money like gangbusters. She still won't budge. So I am dealing with a personality disorder and a pumped up ego on my brothers part. I have three lawyers (daughter, two son-in-laws) who will be glad to give me council if I should need it. And my brother knows it.
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Oh Madge, I feel your pain. For many years my Mom was handing funds over to the sib as a bail out for one catastrophe or another. She promised me each time that she would stop doing it...but continued. It really is a compulsion with her....she can't help herself. And I know if I needed money, she would hand it right over to me. The difference between me and the sib is that after I turned 20 I considered myself an adult and did not want to impose on my family relationships. The sib went the other way. One time Mom secretly tried to give the sib money, but the bank notified me because we were all on the account. I just cried. I called her and told her to never go behind my back again. She said okay, then my sib had her open up a charge card acct. and take out a large cash advance which was never paid back. Was she sad that I was upset? Nooooo. The NPD personality has strong self-preservation instincts...everyone else is on her own.
So the next time I visited her, I became her POA and everything has to go through me now. I pay her bills and take care of other financial things. And when the time comes, her assets (which do not amount to a lot) will be divided equally as she intended. I have no attachment to money and things, I just wanted to make sure that everything she has goes toward her care.
I know for a fact that she would do the same things today. If you understand that it is a behavioral issue, you can tackle the problem more objectively. Also, in some families where the boys "rule," women are relegated to the grunge work and men are handed the financial caretaking - because ya' know, men are so much smarter than women. Do you think this is the problem with your Mom?
Are you able to visit her face to face and confront these issues calmly with her? It could be that she thinks your bro is going to do the right thing after she is gone. He may or may not. She may not want to deal with this at her stage in life and becomes obstinate. She may favor your brother (happens all the time) or feel that he deserves or needs more.
That is why I always advise young parents to treat their children equally. Do not give more money to one child than another - same with the wills, etc. Do not fund your adult children until they turn 90. Once they reach adulthood they are on their own. If you still want to "loan" them money, make it a financial and legal arrangement with a payback schedule. If they default, NEVER lend to them again because you are indirectly punishing the responsible children.
Plan for your own elderhood and let your kids be those nice people who visit you.
Madge...I hope things work out...let us know...Lilli
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My fears are warranted. My brother is on her checking account which has between 40 and 80K. I explained to her about the joint ownership and how this will override the will unless specified otherwise. She doesn;t care. She only has my brother, who lives 5 miles away, to call on. I live in Florida which might as well be the moon according to her. She doesn't really like his wife (too snobbish) and my brother is very full of himself.tThey do very little for her and she is 81. But she doesn;t want anyone else to be on anything. I have explained to her that if my brother dies, I would have to get guardianship to take care of her. She doesn't care. The deal is I am not going to do this. The state will take care of her, I am just tired of trying to deal with both of these a*^holes.
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First find out from the bank with your mother with you if your fears are warranted. If so, see if they will change the CD to read "Your Mother's name or Brother's name and Your name". This way Mom would have control of her account and if something happens to Mom, Your brother and you both would have to sign to get the money from the CD. Do this now! You may have to wait until the CD matures.
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I went through Francis and Jean, a month later Wilma. We do have underground utilities because we are in a shelter zone. No air in August in Florida is pure hell. I didn't realize every pine needle on a pine tree could blow down, not to mention all the sticks and crap. We worked like the devil to get it all up just in time for the next hurricane (two weeks later) to blow through. I just pray the Northeast is spared. My husbands family went through Andrew. It was the worst thing I have ever seen. They will never forget it. Do have a daughter in Boston, supposed to go to a wedding at Cape Cod this weekend. Probably not going to happen. Take care, you have made me feel better than anyone in a while.
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CT / upper Eastern Seaboard is it as per Weatherunderground. My associate in Wilmington is staying put but they are at a 35' BFE. It's loosing power that is the b...rash on this, nothing like the FUN of 100 degrees and no AC. Water, food you can prepare for. But power lines down, your stuck. Gennies are good but another PIA to go and get fuel for with dz's of others. If you have an old-school land line it is a godsend as the new ones go out when the power goes.

We went thru Katrina, had a home vaporized, which in retrospect is what you want as there is no it's only 42% damaged wind V. water nonsense. If it's gone everybody has to pay the full value eventually. Although you have to fight for it with many, many certified letters.
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Wow, I went to see The Help yesterday. Cried a bit. Read the book twice. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama in the late 60's. So much of this book is so real. I felt for the white women as well because the culture was so awful. They were powerless also. But the poor black people. They are a force in the South now and should be. Actually a wonderful black family moved next door to my racist Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad realized their attitudes were a bit outdated. I Loved the book most, I have known everyone of the characters in the book at sometime in my life.

You are right about me letting this bother me, I stopped talking to my Mother for 6 months. She would get me angry and upset almost everytime I talked to her. I felt so much better but my brother put the quilt trip on me to call her. I didn't, but s.he called me. Nothing new, no sorry, nothing, just bitching about how much her new roof cost and having to get some trees out of the yard after the tornados.

Same old same old, but thanks for your kindness. I will try to let this go and spend my day watching the hurricane rain bands come a shore and hope to hell that thing doesn't hit me!
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Madge, take a break and go see "The Help" or read some Bailey White or Jill Conner Brown. The South is still so different.

Sounds like this is just eating you up, honey. If that is the case, then get yourself an elder care attorney to set up a custodial financial plan for your mom. Even if she & he won't go along with it, you have done this and when she dies, if you want to submit a claim against the estate, you have solid documentation of why the split should not be 50/50 due to prior activity by your bro. None of this is pretty or easy but to me, it sounds like you need to do something so you can move on and get free of the emotional toll this is taking.

If you want to get dirty on this, have your attorney send a letter of inquiry to the bank regarding any transferring of funds. The banks hate dealing with this as they do not want to be liable. Usually they will require that all interested parties come to the bank for a open meeting on the accounts. If she has brokerage accounts, a letter to the compliance department (which is not the same as the stockbroker or the branch manager, compliance is regional with alot of power) has the same effect. But only you can decide how far to take this. I'm a take-it-to the mat alpha kinda female - which is probably why the aunts named me as executrix - but not everyone can do this.
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Thanks igloo572, Mom is a no go for trust. We have tried. She basically doesn't care what happens to her money as long as she gets taken care of. I know she will be well cared for. She is very, very selfish. As is my brother. He is just not informed. I know probate is not that much but the extra tax on a gift over 13K per year is pretty stiff. Which makes me wonder if I will get 50/50. None of this is about money, my family has always treated me as if I were beneath my brother (old, backwards southerners). It is just more of the same. My parents also pretended to be poor, we never got anything growing up. I paid my parents at least 15K to live with them for a while. So now at the 11th hour to find out my Mom has close to a million dollars and I am basically left in the dark just makes me angry. I think because of past comments, my brother intends to get himself added to Mom's CDs (which is where the bulk of her omney is). He has at least 100K worth of bonds that belong to her in a safety deposit box. Only he has this. Is he honest, he claims to be, the whole I am a "good" christain thing. But I don't know, it just doesn't smell right to me and I am a really good judge of character.
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Geez if this is ALL about avoiding probate, then he should do a living trust. But there is the maintainence cost of the LT. Either way there will be a cost. I was executrix for 2 aunts, the probate cost was like under 10% maybe only 4% for 1 of them, not much in the overall spectrum. One of them dragged on to forever and there was no way the court recouped the costs of that one. Great learning experience though, LOL.

IMHO your position will be better with the LT as you will be named the 50/50 co-successor (since you are 50/50 on the will as it shows mom's intentions) when the LT is set up. Plus the $ is in a neutral party. Good luck.
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Lilliput you are right about the taxes. I was thinking estate tax not gift. To gift me half of the account or accounts, he would have to pay tax on these. First 13K not taxed, everything after should be reported on a special gift tax form. It is funny, I have a daughter who is a tax attorney in Boston and a brother-in-law who is a CPA and I had to look all of this up on the internet. Can't be bothered to give me some answers. Better to leave the accounts as they are until needed. He wants to avoid probate because that cost money. It is going to cost one way or the other. I hope she uses all of it, more so now than ever.
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You are right JeanneGibbs, so many work their entire lives to have it all go, while others find means to save it. I don't blame those who shelter their money for their families. My husbands family did this, they are well educated and smart, but mom-in-law was also very, very loved and cared for.She cost the tax payer nothing. They are just good people. Mom can spend every nickel on herself, wish she would. It sure has ruined our relationship. Not how the money is to be spent but how she has treated me.
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Thanks Lilliput, nothing is transparent with Mom. She is in good health. I believe she thinks at the 11th hour she will "sign me up" and she and my brother will turn over everything to me. Not going to happen. He is on everything and they refuse to include me, so he will care for her. I have told her, tears and all, how much they have hurt me. They really don't care.
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Talking about how to "impoverish" a wealthy elder so that he or she will qualify for Medicaid and still be able to pass money to heirs makes me kind of sad. I know it is legal and it is smart, but it is another of many examples of how the wealthy can protect their money and pass the wealth along, and those of more modest means have a bigger burden. In order to qualify for Medicaid for my husband with dementia I had to sell down all of his life insurance policies, his car, and most of my pension. I'm 19 years younger than my husband. and I'll need that pension money for a long time after he is gone. Having to start over to build up retirement funds is a huge burden. I am supporting us now; most of husband's SS check goes to monthly spend down. When I retire my standard of living will take a dive. I hope I can continue working throughout the remainder of hubby's life or until he needs NH. And although I'm scared about retirement, I know that we are luckier than many, many people who have worked just as hard as we did all our lives. But not as lucky as wealthy people with financial advisors.

I'm not criticizing anyone who takes advantage of what the system offers. I'm just sad that the system works the way it does.
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madge1: your instincts are correct in not wanting to involve the "family" attorneys. You really need an expert in elder financial planning and estates. (On this site, Ralph Robbins is a great resource...try searching under the "Money and Legal" category.)
I think people misuse or misunderstand POAs all the time. All they really do is allow another party the power to make decisions if the parent is incapacitated. They should not be helping themselves to funds before or after a parent is deceased. Even Living Trusts just guide the trustee...the trustee has no power but to follow the intent of the will. The exception to this is accounts (outside the will or trust) where a beneficiary is named or the person is co-owner of the account.
Also, in regard to "gifting:" if one member "inherits" the funds in a bank account, after the death of a parent, and they give half to another (family member or not) they are responsible for taxes because they are the original recipient.
After years of my Mom handing over money to and taking out loans for my sib I finally convinced her that it was not the best way to plan for her future. I am now her medical and financial POA. I WISH my sib and I could work together to do this, but it seems that in every family there is someone willing to relieve seniors of their hard-earned income. I now pay all the bills (through bill pay at my bank - that way I have a record of every transaction.)
I, too, worry that one day my sib will talk my Mom into changing her POA. But, ya' know, there is only so much you can control. If they want to throw their money away on bad investments or an unscrupulous relative, there is not much you can do.
Your hub's family seems to be the exception, not the norm. Most of the kids who really care about their parent's well being, put up with most of the work and then the grief. That old adage keeps spinning in my head, "No good deed goes unpunished."
(btw, where is your Mom now? who is overseeing her care? if she isn't at that point yet, make it clear to her that if she trusts her son with the pocketbook, she will have to trust him with her care.)
Here are some things you might want to try: call your mother and ask her about the situation. Do this calmly, she may not understand the intricacies of these accounts and investments - my Mom wouldn't. Your brother may have wanted to "shorthand" things by putting his name on her accounts to pay bills. Make them both aware of the financial consequences should she pass and not have you on those accounts. Their response will tell you all you need to know.
As Jeanne said, what they want and what you are willing to do are not necessarily the same thing. In the future, if you should decide to become her direct caregiver, insist on also being the POA.
good luck....these family things are so grim
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Madge - my hunch is you can't see the forest for the trees. You need to turn all this over to someone who is an outsider, who doesn't care if mom is a nutcase.

Ask the 3 attorney's in the family (do this via email if you can so you have a record just in case it later on is not all kum-ba-ya) for a name/referral for an estate &/or elder law attorney. Then find maybe 3 on your own. Hopefully one of those names is the same and go and see them. Pay for it out of your own $$ - think of it as for every dollar is an ounce of dysfunctionality off of you. Have them come up with a plan and present to bro & mom. If they buy it, then fabulous, if they don't well you've done what you can. No guilt, no embarassment. It ain't easy but you need to to whatever for your best emotional health first & foremost.
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Igloo, thank you for some great comments. My husband's Mom pasted almost 4 years ago. I am familiar with all the comments you have made because his family did everything right. They are happy and life goes on. My problem is dealing with a nut case, my Mom. My brother is too involved with himself and his family to care, so she is allowed to behave badly. What can I do. I have three lawyers in the family but I don't discuss much of this right now with them. I am too embarassed that my family is so dysfunctional.
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Igloo here - I'd like to add that the LT really, really needs to be done by an estate planning attorney who has their practice in the same county where mom lives. It needs to be set up just right on how each asset is named with the proper forms that often are particular to the county in which the asset resides. If not done correct, you can find yourself having to go to probate to deal with a single item which is a royal PIA.

All these issues are sticky, you'll need to hire an experienced lawyer to help. To begin your search for the best lawyer for the job, contact the local bar association and ask whether it has a lawyer referral service that includes those who specialize in elder law or estate planning. You can also contact the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for a referral to its members in your area. Good luck.
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Lilli is spot-on. It is complicated and often contradictory!

There may be good reasons, from an investment & LTC planning point of view to change who's SS# the income is tied to, therefore changing names. If she's a "young old", brother may be moving $ out so she has less assets ahead of the 5 yr lookback. CD's & Tbills have a clear papertrail so you need to do these asap to be ahead of the lookback. Perhaps that is what is going on?

Have you come out and asked mom and bro what is going on and their goal in moving $$ ownership around?

Who is the DPOA? Sounds like there is real $ involved here, so is there a financial advisor and is it that your brother has the relationship with the advisor (stockbroker, insurance guy, bank guy - since banks can sell financial products now). And this is all a plan to gear up and improverish mom for Medicaid?

Go to the bank and speak with a bank officer asking how the accounts are set up and what that means. It could be the bank has been told, that the other kids have turned everything over to brother. Unless you do this, the bank has no choice but to assume everybody is all kum-ba-ya on what he did. Same for the financial advisor. If bro is DPOA then he can do whatever with the money within reason. Taking $ out and going on vacation isn't that, but changing it into other investments
is. The account is POD only if it's set it up to do that. POD isn't automatic.

The will is all about whatever assets there are there after death. If it's 50/50 then it's 50/50 after all debts, claims and liens are discharged in probate.

If mom really has money, then perhaps it would be best to take a step back and you & bro & mom re-evaluate her $$ and have everything and I mean every asset put into a living trust. When you do a living trust - this means all assets are placed in a trust the trust owns everything not mom, not you, not bro. The title on the house deed and all other assets would change to reflect the trustee ownership. You & your brother would be 50/50 successor or grantor in the trust. Even when mom dies the trust lives on. If you do this – must be done by an attorney and it needs to be maintained too -then you don't need to worry about the will or probate as LT doesn’t go to probate. If she has a home and goes on Medicaid, LT is especially good as probate is how states seem to have the MERP lien or a claim put on when Medicaid pays for LTC. Living trust, no MERP. Happiness all around.

IMHO you need to have real $$ for LT as it must be maintained which the attorney does. This costs but can be worth it to get it out of 1 person's control. Also it can’t be contested and it’s all private unlike a will & probate. I've been executrix twice & well, there is alot of dirty laundry that you hear about in the halls of probate court. And for a small fee you too can go and get a copy of who said what.
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What your brother expects you to do and what you have to do are not the same thing. If there is plenty of money, be sure it is used on help for Mom. You be the daughter, let professionals be the nurse, the homemaker, the cook, the driver, etc.
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Also, can you add your sister? Can you trust her? If Mom added me it would solve the problem of my brother inheriting all of the accounts. They would belong to both of us. We are both trustworthy, as is everyone in our families. No one needs her money, so no one is plotting to take it all. I am just hurt at the way she has treated me and the fact that things are not transparent. As you, Lilliput, said it is not easy to care for an elderly parent. My Mother and brother have left me out of the loop, so to speak, but I know my brother will expect me to do 99% of the work for Mom. It is so frustrating.
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Lilliput, there will not be a tax issue unless "you" have an estate of well over a million dollars. You can give your sister 13K a year with no tax penalty. But at the end of the day when your estate is looked at if it is under million or so, there is no extra tax, unless Congress changes this in the future. Does Durable POA not allow you to do all or most of this stuff. If not what good are they?
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I have been dealing with these issues for years when Mom asked me to help her with finances....it is not as easy as it seems. Here's what I have found out:

1) In order to help Mom with bill paying and have access to records, I had to be put on the account. At the time, I asked if I could be a "signer" only and they said that would be fine. Come to find out, I am a "co-owner" of the account. So the funds would transfer to me after her passing. If I gave half to the sib, which is her wishes, it would be a "gift" and there would be tax issues.
2) Same with CDs. They are a bank product and if you want to have any access to records or to help with investments you have to be listed on the account.
3) I buy everything for Mom so I asked the credit card company if I could be a signer only. They said that I had to have my own card in order to use the account but I would be considered a "signer" and not legally responsible. FALSE. I saw an article online recently and called the cc company. I was legally responsible for any charges made on the card, so I took my name off.
When you become a steward of your parent's accounts, you have to be so careful to ask the right questions. When it comes to anything financial I found that it is much more complicated than you think.
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Brandywine, that is funny. My eyes are not what they used to be. I simply would appreciate an answer about the CDs. I know that if your name is added to your parent's checking account and unless otherwise indicated, it becomes yours upon the death of the parent. This overrides a will, which my Mom has. In the will she is leaving (according to her) everything 50/50. That is why I am concerned about the CDs. What I am reading is if my brother gets her to put him on the CDs, they will be his as well. In my family situation, no one needs anything from my Mother. I hope she spends everything on herself and her care. But, I don't want to see my brother in total control. She has alot of money and my brother will expect me to take care of her. I know him.
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I hope we get an expert answer on this!
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It is a common practice, sometimes, to add another persons name to a CD and use the added persons social security number on the account. This way the income tax is reported under the number of the add on. I'd find out if this is what she is trying to do and offer your #, only if you can afford it! In essence, you brother would pay the tax instead of her. This is also a way to give someone and income as the interest would go to them, they pay the taxes, the money is still yours.
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