Elder sibling brother who has POA asks me for my moral support on taking checkbooks away from Mom. Says that the wife of our younger brother has been helping herself to Mom's checkbook and having her write and sign checks to her for their daughter's college tuition. Even going so far as to have additional check made out to the granddaughter. (I think this was done to avoid breaching the 14K taxable limit)

My Dad's wishes and financial plan already include each sibling getting a 10K annual tax free gift but for some reason SIL continues to leech money from Mom. She has even called me complaining that my elder brother who has the POA is buying tools and groceries with Mom's money. She also is trying to get my Mom examined for mental capacity.

This is all very confusing to me. None of them wanted to communicate with me and were resentful that I live 350 miles away and am not there do to the work; driving of Mom to haircuts, doctor visits, eating out or grocery runs. I believe that both my brothers (in the younger case his wife) are doing all these things so I don't feel it is my place to tell anyone anything.

It is pretty obvious that Mom is confused alot of the time and repeats alot and is forgetful. She is a very generous woman and has a substantial estate and often offers money to us all. Myself and one brother always decline and tell her she needs to keep her funds.

I do think that SIL is taking advantage. So to appease my brother with the POA at his request I did call my younger brother and tell him that Mom's checkbooks were being removed and that I was not objecting to it and suggested that brother not take any further funds from Mom other than the annual disbursement that Dad has set up for us. While he said OK, I feel certain that it will not stop. One checkbook remains with Mom because she became very upset and sad about not having her checkbooks. "I only write a little $10 check here or there." I ask her what about the $3K check for SIL and another 3K check for granddaughter. She didn't even remember doing it and asked if she didn't do the same for all of us and I had to tell her that she didn't.

SIL is very controlling. She already has tried to take my place as daughter in every way. At my Christmas visit with Mom, I told her that I would help her pick out her outfit for my son's wedding next month and that I would be coming over to get ready with her and we would be going together. She responded by saying that I had to clear it with SIL. SIL had already taken it upon herself to do this. Essentially, stealing away a very precious and emotional experience that I should share with my Mom. Even when I called her and told her that I was handling - she said "either way." I said NO, not either way. My way, My Mom, My son's wedding.

My SIL and brother had a very poor relationship with my Mom and Dad, when he was alive. There were incidents where SIL used abusive cursing at my parents and basically alienated brother from family for more than a year; but Mom doesn't remember that.

Oddly, SIL sent me a text the a few days after my call to younger brother. It was a pic of my Mom with a new haircut. She has never done this for previous haircuts or any other event and while I would like to believe she is trying to open communications, the timing leads me more to think its something else.

I'm not even sure why I am putting all this out here but I needed to vent and I feel very stressed and depressed about the whole situation.

What makes this even harder is that we are going into town for my son's wedding next month and will have to be around these people. You know how you can feel stressed when you know you're gonna have to be around people that you feel are two-facing you and you have to grin and bear it for the face thing. I'm dreading it.

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We ended up with 2 accounts. One big one that I pay all the big ( ie rent, taxes etc,) bills out of, and another small one for Mom to use so she felt like she had some freedom. When that account got low I would transfer money in. But there was no overdraft protection on it. We did it so someone would not take advantage of her memory issues.

Find out what her monthly needs are and make sure there's enough in there. Tell sil and mom that you've done this and that any unexpectedly large checks will bounce if you don't know about them ahead of time. Your mom will forget but sil won't.
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This is all a horrible mess. The way this money is being handled is going to prevent your Mom from receiving any governmental assistance should she ever need it. It is well and good enough to say she will not need it, but that is never certain, and right now she is "gifting" large amounts of money that would mean a 5 year lookback would prevent her from having care.
In all of the above did I miss your Mom's diagnosis? Does your Mom have a diagnosis of dementia and has she a POA she already created while she did NOT have dementia? I can't see anything there about that, and if there is no diagnosis then no one is doing anything with checkbooks she doesn't want done.
I would stay out of this completely. It is a dreadful stew with about 30 chefs all just stirring away. If this brother who called you has your Mom's best interests at heart suggest to him that he get guardianship (if she is incapable of acting responsibly in her own behalf and has a diagnosis). Stay out of it. This crew will still be stirring when your Mom is gone and there is any money to be divided. For me I would be away from this completely. I can't make head or tails of what is going on here and I bet you won't be able to either. Do you REALLY want to join the endless bickering of this crew over your Mom's money? Keep out of it and preserve your own life and your own sanity would be my suggestion. Send your Mom sweet gifts.
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LDdaughter Jan 2021
Been on the phone all day back and forth with all siblings, SIL and Mom. It is a big mess. I thought I'd try to be a buffer between the fighting sides but it's very depressing. Turns out young brother and SIL took Mom to doc telling me it was just a physical. When I asked for paperwork they said they didn't have anything. When I said I was going to call the doctor the produced it. It says primary visit diagnosis for memory loss, neurological eval requested (expires in 12 months). Very confusing and upsetting. Why lie? Why hide what you are doing? Just be honest and forthcoming. My DPOA brother is very upset that they didn't involve him.
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LD, you can tell the POA to have moms account changed to require 2 signatures over a certain amount. This can help keep him in the loop and help mom not be financially exploited by grubbing in laws or anyone else.

I don't know that I would get involved other than giving solutions to specific issues.

I would also tell him to make sure that he has a lifetime HIPAA release, the ones from a doctor expire every year and he doesn't want to find that out when mom can't grant it.

I am sorry that you are going through this, money makes people do vile things.

You can tell the POA to have the CPA send a 1099 misc to the SIL that is helping herself to your mom's money.
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BurntCaregiver Jan 2021
That's a good idea about the dual POA requiring two signatures on any checks above a certain amount.
Tell the brother with POA to talk to an attorney that specializes in elder law and to talk to mom's bankers. He needs to get these issues resolved and take you out of the middle - that is why he has POA.

Meanwhile, I suggest you make efforts to connect with your mom on a regular basis. That way you can see that she is thriving with her declining mental capacity.
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disgustedtoo Jan 2021
POA brother should be managing things. You can be supportive of him and just avoid the others. He needs to be watching over mom's finances. He may need a little "push" to take over more. Otherwise, SIL could eventually take too much! Clearly mom isn't cognizant enough to even remember doing these payments. THAT's a clear sign that a POA needs to step in. Even if she has a nice nest egg, that could change:

1) if SIL is already helping herself to 14K on top of the 10K they get, what's to stop her from taking more?
2) depending on mom's age, she could outlive her nest egg, especially if it is continually depleted (10k/year x 3 siblings is a LOT of money!)
3) if she ever needs a facility, they are NOT cheap!
4) if she can't afford a facility, Medicaid WILL be denying coverage, due to the yearly "gifting",

The gifts are tax free to the recipient, however it will incur penalties if she ever needs Medicaid. IF SIL is really taking that much more, she is not only cheating mom, but you and your other brother as well. Biggest concern is mom - she may need those funds that are being milked out of her. POA needs to step up! Support him.

My mother gave us each some one year, and then another year, but when OB asked if she was going to do this again, I put the kibosh on it. By that time it was clear she was in the early stages and there was potential to need all that she still had and then some! Her remaining funds were put in an irrevocable trust (good way to keep grubby hands off of it!) and did very well being managed. Although she was in the early stages, atty queried her and determined she could still understand and sign the paperwork.

When we sold the condo (bad idea at the time to use Life Estate, but we all agreed to put it back into the trust), it ensured she would never want! Not only was there enough to cover her condo and MC for 2 years, but also MC for another 4 years and there's still much more left. Being in the trust, it was protected from her wasting it (or giving it away) and from anyone else who might try to bilk her.
I’d suggest backing away from being the peacemaker. If they were truly interested in peace, it would have happened the first time you played that role.

There are a lot of things going on here. Decide what you want and stick like glue to your boundaries all the time. That will keep you sane and at arms length from morally-challenged greedy relatives.
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I would guess the reason for the secret doc visit is trying to gain control of all of your mom’s finances. Depending on the type of POA your brother has, and it appears he isn’t confident in enforcing his rights, they might be getting the diagnosis to invalidate his control. They might even be secretly consulting an elder law attorney to “take care” of her. Be careful.
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BurntCaregiver Jan 2021
The mother might also be thinking that the brother and SIL are the ones who actually do for her. She's probably afraid of losing her support system and caregivers if the money stops for them. So, there needs to be a plan B in place in case they decide to stop taking care of her. This happens all the time in families. The siblings who are not the elderly person's caregivers worry about the ones doing for the elder getting more money. They're supposed to get more because they're the ones who are taking the responsibility for the elder.
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If your brother has your mom's POA why is she even still able to write checks herself? If she's as well off as you say and offers you and the rest of her family money, why refuse it? It could very well be that before she became forgetful she may have wanted to help pay for her granddaughter's college education.
Did you ever call your SIL out on her intimidating and verbally abusive behavior towards your parents? You and your other brother with the POA really should do that. Before you do anything, make sure she sees a doctor and gets an official diagnosis of dementia. Being forgetful doesn't always mean dementia. She might not want to admit there having been any incidents when your brother and SIL behaved abusively to her and your father. She might remember but doesn't care to discuss it. Think of what her perspective is in this situation. You live 350 miles away. Your brother and SIL are her caregivers. She knows these are the people who do for her and is probably afraid that if the spending stops they will too. Do you and your brother have a plan B in place if they get alienated from her because the money stops, and they refuse to still take care of her? That's something worth thinking about. There needs to be a contract drawn up that all parties are agreeable to with a set amount in a payment plan if your brother and SIL are taking care of your mothers needs. Then your brother with the POA needs to transfer most of the funds from the account she has a checkbook for to another one that he is in control of. Only leave enough of a balance for her to make purchases and give small amounts along with whatever monthly amount is agreed upon for your brother and SIL because they're taking care of her.
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jacobsonbob Jan 2021
I wonder if LDdaughter has any idea as to the total value of her mother's assets. If it is, let's say, $200K then gifting can have serious consequences if the mother needs to go into a nursing home. If she has more like $2M then it's less likely to be an issue, unless brother and SIL step up their game of greediness. If their mother had to spend many years in a nursing home and managed to deplete her assets, then Medicaid could still kick in unless money was still being siphoned off by the brother and SIL (or had been taken within 5 years of the application).

I believe it makes sense for the children to know the approximate value of the parent(s) assets unless the children have shown signs of wanting to exploit it.

I've seen the reverse situation with my parents. In particular, my father was very generous with me and my sister, and he would give us $500 checks on birthdays, etc. I used to worry that they were oversacrificing to do this, and at one point even asked. I eventually learned that they were much more "comfortable" than I had realized, so I quite worrying about this. Neither my sister nor I ever felt any need to exploit them (although my sister was much more "comfortable") than our parents so would have no incentive to do so, and she is basically oblivious to money, but basically we were brought up to be honest. My parents wanted us to inherit from them, and even though our father spent one year in a nursing home and our mother eight, it had little financial effect other than keeping them from gaining, so they've gotten their wish.
Honestly? I'd just put on a happy face and grin and bear it.

I've been in 'fights' with inlaws and it was NEVER EVER worth it.

My MIL's money is hers. She keeps saying she has made it so all 3 of her kids inherit equally, but with my grasping BIL in the picture--no way.

Dealing with FIL's passing and the fact my BIL hit dad's condo with a gleam in his eye and cleared out EVERYTHING of value within 5 days of dad's death--appropriated the car, the furniture, sold the rental properties (he's a realtor and should have split the commissions) and did a ton of inappropriate stuff. I worked to flip the condo, but HE wouldn't allow me to charge the estate. Well, the place sold for $40K more than it should have and I was not allowed a dime for my time. DH was the executor and put in hundreds of hours doing that. BIL was sure that DH didn't make a dime--even though he should have been paid $20 an hour for his work.

After a very few weeks, I realized that DH wasn't going to stick up for us, so we just did our stuff and DH paid out when checks came in---DH wanted relationships to stay 'good' but I do hold a tiny grudge against BIL as he had ZERO legal say in any of this.

When MIL dies, we will have a redux of this. BIL will swoop in and do exactly the same thing.

At least I am prepared. BIL is the laziest man I know, but he's SIL's problem and DH is right, it's NOT WORTH the fight.
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Your first priority is your mother, and if she's not competent and is being exploited, it's your job to stop it. Distance is not an excuse.
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AlvaDeer Jan 2021
MJ that's so easily said. She isn't there. She was frozen out. She isn't caring for her Mom. Others are and they have POA. In my humble opinion she can do nothing. This is a horrific mess with this crew having a virtual feeding frenzy it sounds, over the Mom's money. And now suddenly they want to draw HER in? To what end? I can't make heads or tails out of what is even happening here. I might call APS to say there is financial abuse afoot, but wow, that's ALL I would do at this late point, having once escaped this tribe. I don't think even trying to go for guardianship would work; she has been long distance and THEY have been doing all care. She would lose and would lose 10,000 along with it, in my opinion.
Sounds like you need to get an attorney for your mother involved. And /or find a mediator to protect your mother. Forget about the money, your mother's health and safety are what concerns me.
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