I really need to vent (long)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
I really need to vent (long)
Sat, 08-30-2003 - 1:35am
I'm going to try to make this as brief as possible but I need to give some background.

Years ago, my sister "D" started in on Mom and Dad that they needed to go ahead and give her her "inheritance". She told them it wasn't fair to make her wait for it when she needed it now. Mom told me about this numerous times because it really upset her. She also was nagging them about leaving her the house and property.

Dad told my youngest sister, "L", on numerous occasions that he trusted us but he was tying his estate up in trust for my Mom so that D couldn't get her hands on it if he died first. He was afraid she would try to take advantage of Mom, who is pretty passive about things. Actually, I think Mom has passive-aggressive disorder.

Dad died 2 years ago. D moved in with Mom the day of the funeral. A week later, she had Mom at a lawyer breaking the trust. Mom told me that D had found out that the trustee charged $10,000 just to sign the annual tax return and she had to break the trust or she would run out of money. Dad didn't leave Mom as well fixed as he thought because most of the insurance was accidental death and he died of natural causes.

Since then, D (who is now 50) has been living with Mom (74) completely scott free. Mom pays for everything -- all household bills and living expenses. If they go out to eat or on a trip, Mom pays everything -- food, gas, everything. Mom buys a lot of clothes and they end up in D's closet, usually before Mom wears them.

Over the last couple of years, D questioned me extensively about a disorder I have. There are no tests for it. It is easiest to dx in a patient who has never heard of it, actually (fibromyalgia). Then she went on the internet to get info. After visiting several doctors, she found one that agreed to give her the dx. He has her on meds that are NOT for it....they are only approved for other things and are very specific in the literature. These are strange meds for her to be given. I've had the disorder for 15 years and usually just ignore it. She's always had a problem with taking meds. She'll raid Mom's pain meds, valium, etc if she knows Mom has any.

Early in the year, I worked for a brief time for a company where I worked out of my home. D began making very jealous remarks about me being home all day. Suddenly, she announced that she had quit working full time and was going to apply for disability. She said she would be making more money by working part time and drawing disability than if she worked full time. She talked Mom into spending thousands of dollars buying several different kinds of puppies to raise and breed. This meant not only the cost of expensive puppies but trips to the puppy mills to get them and building kennels for them. To help Mom out, my DH went there and did the labor to build the kennels. Mom mentioned that they are putting D's kennel in Mom's name so that Social Security people don't find out about the income. Since there are about 25 puppies, Mom has spent quite a bit -- I'd estimate in the neighborhood of $20,000. The puppies were about $500-600 each and there is a lot of fencing and so forth for the kennels. Plus vet bills when some of them were very sick (puppy mills were the sources).

Now for what irritates me.

Over a year ago, Mom mentioned the old lady next door was very ill. I told her that I hoped the lady was ok but if she ever died, it would be great if I could manage to buy the house she lives in. Mom took off running with that. Next thing I know, she's shopping for new mobile homes for me. I told her that, because of our divorces, DH and I have poor credit and couldn't get a loan until we can get our credit re-established. She offered to help by co-signing so we could move there and live nearby. It was a sacrifice for us to move to her town but we talked it over and decided that it would be a good thing for us to be there to take care of her. It would mean DH would be working out of town during the week. She went with us and we picked out the home. The application was filled out and we were all quite excited. The next morning, she called us to the kitchen, then she said she needed to go get D for us to have a talk. She stated that she wanted D to witness this. She then told us that she and D had talked it over and she had decided that we hadn't been married long enough for her to know DH very well. She told us that we had bad track records of marriage and might not stay married (both of us were in abusive marriages before). She told us that she was not going to help us. Well, we were okay with that. We hadn't asked in the first place. But -- WHY did she change her mind overnight by talking to my sister and WHY did my sister need to be a "witness" to her telling us this. Saying no was fine -- but it was humiliating for DH and I to hear all this stuff in front of D. Let me add that the night before we got there, she co-signed for my sister to buy a $20,000 boat. We backed out of moving there and instead, moved to the town my DH was working in.

DH and I had a rough time at first when we moved. I had trouble finding work. He was with a company that would shut down a lot. We had some major medical expenses. The car died and we had to replace it with no warning. Then we found out his company was going to send him away for 6 months to work and we desperately needed a second vehicle. We found one but they wanted high interest to finance it. We asked Mom if she would loan us $2000. With what we had, we could pay cash for the vehicle. The cash price was $1500 lower than the price if we were to finance so it was a huge savings. We told her we would give her $150/month on it.

Three years ago, I was a single parent and my son had a major and necessary expense. Mom and Dad gave me the money to pay for it. They were going to make the payments on the loan. It was about $4000. When Mom loaned us the money for the vehicle, she mentioned that she was still making the payments on the loan and asked if we could take them over. She said they were $50/month. No problem.

We started sending $200/month. We have continued to do better financially. We have both changed jobs and are making more money. We have a small savings account now for emergencies. We decided we were doing well enough to share and decided to adopt an older child.

Earlier in the week, I broke the news to Mom that we had been working on an adoption. She was happy about it. Two days later, she told me that the original loan still had a $3000 balance and she wanted us to start paying on it. She told me that DH had told her we'd give her $250/month on the vehicle and we were only sending $200. I have a feeling that she had told D about the adoption and they had decided if we could afford to adopt, we could pay her off faster. I told her we would send more money each month but we would have to do it in two payments so that one is sent later in the month. All of our bills are due the first 8 days of the month, including the $200 we already send her.

Now, we don't have a problem paying her what we owe her. We don't have a problem taking over the original loan. We are finally doing okay now and we don't want to owe her any money. At the same time, we want to be able to put some money away so we never have to go to her again.

Right after Dad died, Mom mentioned to me that she was going to change her will and that D had been after her to leave her the house and property (26 acres on the edge of town). D has been wanting this property for years. Not long ago, Mom told my DH that she has done this but that she has taken out 2 $45,000 life insurance policies with my sister L and I as beneficiaries to make up for us not getting any of the property. The property is worth about $250,000-500,000 depending on how it is sold. So, D is living free for however many years my Mom has left, then she gets more than her share after Mom dies. In the meantime, since D is only working 4 afternoons a week now (at the same job she says she's too "disabled" to do), Mom is having to pay D's car payment, insurance, etc.

We have been buying her some groceries when we go visit because she doesn't have much. D's boyfriend stays there every weekend (Friday through Sunday) and he doesn't pay for anything. D's adult children come for Sunday dinner -- Mom pays for the food and cooks it.

We realize that Mom is trying to get more money from us since she is spending so much supporting D. That's not fair. We have been paying her regularly, on the same day each month as agreed.

All these years, D lived next door and rarely visited my parents unless she needed something. She's borrowed many thousands of dollars that she never repaid. L and I have borrowed money but we have always repaid as quickly as possible.

I'm feeling really hurt by all this. I have thought about having adult protective services go check on Mom. She has beginning stages of Altzheimer's. D uses her credit cards and now they have a joint checking account. But, Mom is still enough in control that I don't think she needs that extreme measure. I've thought about turning D in for the kennel since they are not zoned for it. I've also thought about calling Social Security and reporting her for a fraudulent disability claim. She's perfectly capable of working. But she'd still be living off of Mom.

I don't know what to do. It has affected my relationship with Mom. We've always been very close. Even though I live several hours away, I've called her every night for 30 years. Now, I have nothing to say to her. When I try to talk to her about the situation, I've caught her lying to me. When L and I tried to stop it all, she went straight to D. Then D convinced her that L and I were only concerned that she was spending our inheritance. L and I don't care about this "inheritance" that D has always worried about. We just don't want Mom taken advantage of and we know that Dad didn't want it either. He predicted it and it's happening despite his efforts to prevent it.

Gee, this has been long. Thanks if you listened all the way through. I feel it's hopeless but I needed to vent and my poor DH listens to me enough.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2002
Tue, 09-02-2003 - 12:22am
This is a tough situation, I agree. And so sorry you have to witness your family ties crumbling right before your eyes, but I think you are right: it sounds pretty hopeless. Unfortunately, as long as your mother is of sound mind, she can do whatever she wants (or thinks she wants) with her property, and there is nothing I know of that you can do about it.

I know you said you were not concerned about the inheritance, and I believe you. I was also in your situation with my Dad's wife, who always thought (since I was a small child) that I was out to get their money. Never farther from the truth - all I wanted was my Dad's love. In the end, when my father died, he managed to change beneficiaries on some life insurance policies for his five children, but that was all. His wife, who had abused him for over 36 years, got all of their property and accounts, totaling nearly 1/2 million. My Dad's children got $20,000 each. I'm sure when she dies, it will all go elsewhere, but it doesn't matter to me. I got to spend the last 6 months of my father's life with him, and he was happy. That's all that matters.

Be aware, however, there is a law against exploitation of the elderly in most states, maybe all 50, and Canada. If you have solid evidence that your sister is taking advantage of Mom without her consent or knowledge, then by ALL means, please do contact APS. (I have a little experience on this subject, too - I was able to prove to APS that my Dad's wife was exploiting him, by opening accounts in her name only and transferring all of their money into those accounts. But since my Dad was of sound mind and refused to file charges against her - ok by me, this was his choice - APS dropped the charges and closed the investigation.)

All I can really advise is to stay in contact with your Mom as you are able, and try to avoid the topic of finances. Just watch her for signs of Alzheimer's or abuse, and report it if the situation escalates to that point. It sounds like your Mom is feeling some remorse at being bullied into willing her property to D, by taking out the life insurance policies for you and L. Even though the value of these policies is very low, at your mom's age they must be costing her quite a lot of money for premiums.

As consolation: unless your Mom gives the property by some legal means (surviorship, joint tenancy, or something like that) to your sister, prior to her death, your sister could be liable for some hefty inheritance taxes. Ha. Let her deal with THAT.

Often on these message boards, I give the following advice, and I think it applies to your situation as well: I once had a co-worker and mentor whom I approached for advice on how to handle a difficult decision. She told me to just gather as much information as I could, weigh the facts and consequences, and make the best decision I could make. Then let the chips fall where they may. Even if things turn out badly, at least I will know I did the best job I could do and would be able to live with myself. I lean on this advice heavily whenever I am faced with a tough choice, and it always works.

MY DH applied this to his relationship with his grown daughter, who has ex-communicated herself from the family. He tried for years to atone for whatever complaints she had about how she was raised, called her every birthday and holiday, sent cards, offered his financial help and fatherly advice, and more... as an attempt to rebuild their relationship. She rarely returned calls or came by the house to visit (unless she needed money), even on holidays. She never acknowledged a gift, nor apologized for charging up his credit cards, or offered to repay anything she had charged or for repairs her Dad made to her car. Finally, he knew he had done everything he could do, and was able to let her go. He misses her, but he carries no remorse and can sleep at night knowing HE did the right thing.

I hope this helps at least a little. Best of luck to you and God's grace.