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I have not posted in a while but the upshot is my elderly Dad has been ill and deteriorating for a few months now. It started with a case of sepsis and since then he has had multiple health problems surface. Just recently he had emergency surgery for an aortic aneurysm. My Mom is caring for him with lots of outside help from us siblings and visiting nurses/aides.

Dad is declining rapidly and I fear the worst. We are all doing what we can to keep his spirits up and make him comfortable. The problem is Dad thinks he is going to get back to his old life which was 7 days a week running a small business with my Mom. He is also making some very scary financial decisions. I talked about their financial decision in an old post it's a mess.

The bottom line, the business had been failing for a couple of years and by the time Dad got sick he had run up $50,000 in credit card bills. He thought the economy would improve and he would get caught up eventually. Now that he is in such ill health it's clear the business is done. It would have crashed soon anyway. The market my parents deal in is dying, no one wants what they sell. They have no savings or retirement (Dad is paranoid about the banking industry) they do however own enough property that if they sold, it would pay off their credit cards, back taxes and leave enough for them to supplement their social security so they can stay in their home and be comfortable. Instead my brother just found out that Dad activated another line of credit and borrowed $7,000 to purchase more "stock". They are already over loaded with merchandise that will not sell. My brother has been going in to help keep the books for their home and business and he was floored when he found out. He asked for a sibling meeting.

I don't know what to think. Dad seems to be getting more and more delusional and Mom would NEVER go against his wishes. If things keep going this way they are going to end up losing what they do have. What makes this even more difficult is that Mom seems to be expecting us to help out with money for daily needs. I am in no position to do that, we struggle as it is. My brother wants to talk about guardianship. I told him what you folks have said, it's an expensive, long drawn out process that might not even have a chance of success. Besides my Mom and Dad would fight it tooth and nail. One thing for sure, it would alienate my parents and cause irreparable damage to our relationships. I don't want that. Truth to tell, I would rather they loose it all than go through that.
I dread this meeting. My sister is beyond controlling. There is no discussion if she makes up her mind on something. My brother is desperate to fix this and I just don't know what to think.
Please, any thoughts at all would be helpful.

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Best wishes for you to have a productive and appropriate meeting. Some difficult things may need to be done. You really do need to cut off more attempts to prop up the business though, and from your prior posts, dad is no longer fully competent, at least not to run a business even if legally competent to make other decisions. His refusal of POA is bad judgement and/or denial as well. Though being sensitive and respectful is good, letting his irrational tirades and "hitting the roof" run the whole show is not going to lead anywhere good.
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Thank you all, so many thoughtful answers. Jeannegibbs what you said really feels right. The other day I actually told my Mom that I thought Dad should be proud that he acquired the assets they have. that it was a testament to his good business sense. I love the way you worded this sentiment and I will be sure to tell my Dad. As for guardianship, I'm not in favor but if it had to happen I would prefer to see a judge appoint a professional. I think that would be best given our family dynamics.
Also, I will look into a mediator as littletonway suggested, that sounds like a good idea.
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You say that you don't want to alienate your parents and cause irreparable damage to our relationships and that you would rather they lose it all than go through that.

I think that you have your priorities straight.

It doesn't sound like there is much financially salvageable in the business situation. Bad things are going to happen no matter what you do. If the business fails and dies a natural death, as you assume it will, the best you can hope for and work for is to not let it take everything else down with it. No more loans for the business. Cut your losses. Convince dad that his strategy of owning property was brilliant and will now allow both your parents to retire in comfort. I sincerely hope you or your brother or your sister -- or an objective third party -- can help Dad accept this without alienating him.

Seeing a lawyer or an estate planner sounds good to me. But based on my very limited personal experience, I would steer clear of a firm that does nothing but bankruptcies. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

As to giving them money for day-to-day expenses, NO. That just enables the delusional thinking. Your parents have assets. Those assets should be used for their own needs. That they do have assets is an incredible tribute to Dad. He may not have called the shots right about the business recovering from the recession, but he must have done something right along the way to have the means to live comfortably now. I'd emphasize the praise in talking to him, or in having a professional talk to him. Good job, Dad! Relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

I hope the three of you can agree and be consistent on not giving money for their daily needs. Even if your brother or your sister is in a position to do that, it would not contribute to a satisfactory outcome, and could make matters worse.

As for guardianship, are there two doctors willing to state that Dad can no longer make his own decisions? Adults are allowed to make their own decisions, even very bad decisions, as long as they are competent in the eyes of the law. Is it Brother who would ask to be appointed guardian? If Dad is vehemently opposed to that and a judge appoints a professional guardian, would that satisfy your concerns? I personally don't see guardianship as the solution to this mess.

Good luck to all of you. And do keep us informed.
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Perhaps the lawyer/financial advisor can suggest a mediator to conduct this meeting. Their job is to keep the meeting on subject and flowing. They are totally an uninterested party who keeps tempers from flaring and perhaps your Dad and Mom would listen to an outsider before their children.

It is tough, but there just comes a time when we have to make the adult decisions that are best for our parents welfare. Best wishes.
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My advice would be to ask your brother to very clearly and, as concisely as possible, explain the problem as he sees it. And then rapidly move into, "What are we prepared to do about it?" Sometimes people get so darned wrapped up in discussing the PROBLEM, they never get around to solutions.

Since your brother is up to his neck helping dad with his books, he obviously has a much clearer understanding of what's going on. Personally, if I trusted my brother, I'd be behind him 100% in whatever solution he thought was appropriate. After some brainstorming, of course.
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Looloo's comments are spot on! The attorney can be the informed but impartial arbiter. She/he can address your sister's desires very well, I'm sure.

TMB, perhaps you can speak to the attorney about pre-emptive action. If your father is sued for business liabilities, likely the suit(s) will request compensatory damages well beyond the value of the collateral.

I don't know if this is even realistic, but maybe you could tell him that if pre-emptive action isn't taken before he's sued, it will affect his business and ability to maintain it. We both know that the business is headed for dissolution, but perhaps just planting a hint that he might eventually go back to running it might appease his anxiety over the entire situation.

I do understand though how tough it is to deal with someone who takes an arbitrary position though.
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Consulting an expert, like the bankruptcy attorney Gardenartist suggested, and having that person join your meeting, might help. It would provide an unemotional and objective viewpoint, and keep everyone on track.
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No there is no POA nor will there be. My Dad lost it when that was mentioned. There is no saving the business.We all work long hours and are helping as much as possible. Attempting to save the business would be a full time job and I doubt it would work. The business is not sale-able. It's a tiny sole proprietorship, a Mom and Po operation that is no longer viable. All of your advice was very wise and we can try to talk to Dad but I sincerely doubt he will have anything to do with any of it. My brother is doing his best to juggle their bills on their social security and a few sales here and there but it's a losing battle. Unless they sell the property the will probable go bankrupt but Dad will never file. He will wait til the creditors sue him.
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One possibility is either straight bankruptcy or a Ch. 11, but I don't see a Ch. 11 working out unless the family (exclusive of your father) takes over and runs the business. The creditors would have to be on board as well, and in fact they could be the ones who force your father out of the active running of the business.

If the market for the products has dried up, that's a big factor in whether or not the business could meet any arrangements to pay off creditors. I think liquidation might be more appropriate.

I also think that at some point your brother and/or you may have to activate any authority you have - I don't recall if there are any DPOAs in place or not.

It would be nice if you could convince your father that his business is still being taken care of, but I don't think that's possible. I'm sure it would be very traumatic for him to have to consider liquidation. It's a reflection of who he is and what he’s accomplished in life. It would have been part of his legacy.

I remember your original post and the fact that your father won't "give up the ship", or in this case, his business.

It sounds as if selling the property is the best option, but there are the business liabilities to consider. I don't recall but have a vague recollection that your parents owned this business and the family are the stockholders?

The issue of satisfying the business debts from the sale of the property would be a major one if there is any consideration of liquidating the business. I'm assuming that the lines of credit are secured by collateral constituting the business products, fixtures and inventory so there might be some value there as well.

I don't know whether there's any "going concern" value for a business with a declining market, but that would have to be considered.

With the exception of the back taxes, I’m sure the business obligations would take priority over the planned use for "credit cards, ...and ... social security supplements". This is something for a bankruptcy attorney's advice. If property were sold and funds were used for other purposes beyond paying off secured creditors first, there may be issues of preferential transfers, a complicated aspect of addressing debts before and during bankruptcy.

I really would try to avoid guardianship and try to get your sister on board, hard as that may be. Guardianship will eat through what financial assets there are left, and it's possible that a turn-around expert or even receiver might be appointed to liquidate the business. More money out of your parents' dwindling pocketbook.


I think what I would do is talk to a bankruptcy attorney to get some professional advice on satisfying the back taxes, and the unsecured debt vs. the secured debt as well as caring for your parents in the future. Work out the options and ask your brother to help with the business financial issues and the number crunching, such as valuing the inventory, receivables vs. payables, etc. Get a bottom line on the assets and the liabilities, if that hasn’t already been done. If your sister sees it on paper, it may have more impact than if you tell her verbally.

Develop your strategies with the attorney and your brother, THEN meet with your parents and your sister. But don't expect agreement at first; let your sister state her opinion, then if you have to reconsult with the attorney to determine if her ideas are even feasible. .

If you have the backing of a legal opinion (which I think is really need at this point), then it might deflate some of your sister's attempts to control the situation with her own plans.

I wish you luck. Please keep us posted. I remember how stressed you were when you first posted and it sounds as though it's still a major energy drain.

(I've read and reread this post and hope it makes sense!)
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When I said my sister is beyond controlling I meant she is extremely controlling. what I wrote sounded funny after reading it. Sorry bout that!
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