By Kathy Mitchell
and Marcy Sugar
Dear Annie: My father passed away a year ago. My brother, who lived closest, was entrusted to oversee my mother’s care. My siblings and I were all aware of the sacrifices Dad made to ensure my mother would be provided for. Their house is not paid off, but there is enough coming in monthly to cover her expenses.
A couple of days after Mom received the insurance settlement, my brother borrowed a third of it. He gave her a promissory note and is paying 2 percent interest. A year later, he borrowed half of what was left. My mother just informed me of this when I called on what would have been my dad’s birthday. My brother told her to keep it a secret, so she doesn’t want me to let on. I advised her to move the rest of the money into an account to which my brother does not have access.
Right now, I don’t think very highly of my brother and wonder if this is a form of elder abuse. He is having financial difficulties, but so am I, and Mom doesn’t have enough money to fix anyone’s problems. His pay has been downsized, but he has a pretty lavish lifestyle and indulges his kids and wife. Right now, my mother is planning to change her will, since my brother is the executor. What is your advice?
Dear Disappointed: If your brother took this money from your mother without her knowledge or consent, or if Mom was incapable of understanding the repercussions of what she was doing, it would indeed be elder abuse. But it sounds as if your brother is attempting to pay her back, albeit slowly. Before allowing this to escalate into a permanent rift, you should have a family discussion with all your siblings and your mother. Don’t make accusations. Simply discuss how best to see that Mom’s money is used for her benefit. You might want to bring in a financial counselor or attorney to act as mediator.
Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 30 years. We each have a child from a previous marriage, and we have a son together. Our marriage has been pretty good over the years except for one thing — she and her daughter are enmeshed.
The biggest problem is the never-ending phone calls. My stepdaughter calls every day, morning, noon and night. We have been interrupted on vacation with meaningless phone calls. I had our landline taken out so I wouldn’t have to answer her calls, but now my wife walks around the house with her cellphone in her hand. This problem has caused countless disagreements. My wife thinks this is fine, although the other children don’t do this.
Dear Help: Some adult children, particularly daughters, tend to call their mothers frequently during the course of the day. Your wife is the one who encourages and permits this, and she has no intention of stopping. Frankly, as long as you don’t have to answer the phone, we strongly urge you to leave this alone.
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