Could my brother swindle Mother's money?

4 answers | Last updated: Nov 05, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My brother is the executor of our mother's finances. If he were to get mad, could he cause damage, ruin, or swindle her money away without her knowledge?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

 There are a couple of pesky legal terms to clear up here—and perhaps that will help ease your mind.

An executor is the person named in a will to round up, manage, and distribute the willmaker’s assets after he or she dies as the will directs. The executor has no right or power to take any action with the owner’s finances while he or she is alive.

But if your brother was the agent named to act in your mother’s power of attorney document, then he has the legal duty to act in her best interests while she is still alive—either immediately or when she lacks the legal capacity to act for herself, depending on the wording of the particular document.

The fact that you fear your brother may swindle your mom speaks loudly—and you may be in the best position down the road if you act now to try to prevent wrongdoing. Your first step will be to get specific about your concerns about what makes you suspect something might go wrong. Then try to have an honest talk with your brother. Don’t be accusatory; simply emphasize your interest in knowing what is going on — and let him know you are available to help or that you support the idea of hiring someone else to help if that seems best. In a surprising number of cases, that show of care and concern clears up the matter. And it can be particularly helpful in a case such as yours, when you’re dealing with someone who can have real temper flare-ups.

If that step is not possible or successful, you might ask a court to periodically review your brother’s actions to make sure they’re on the up and up—and possibly to require an accounting so that the finances can be more directly monitored.

Community Answers

Floshow47@yahoo answered...

If the individual get the courts involved on her brothers, the entire family is going to be upset with him/her, especially mom. I am going through the same thing. I think the individual should draw up power of attorney papers, and ask mom to sign them privately without the brothers. Ensure mom your love for her, and you want what's best for her. Take care of all important matters before mom expires.

Cathrn answered...

My father made my sisters believe I was untrustworthy, in his confusion and dealing with bipolar disorder and alzheimers, he let them take over power of attorney and made them executor of his will, he tells me that he let one sister go to Hawaii with his money, and I asked him why because I had been living with them for years taking care of them and never took a dime or asked for any. I even bought their groceries because they acted like they were so poor, even though I knew their assets and finances, I'm aware that anything is possible, one of them could have ended up having a catastrophic illness that would have eaten up all their money within months. When it looked as if dad was trying to control his kids by using "our inheritance' as a scare tactic, then things got way worse. He made them beleive that I was stealing from him, that I was trying to poison him, all kinds of insane accusations. My sisters took advantage of this, instead of being adults and knowing this was part of his disease, how he was abusive to me and practically killing my mother and I, they took over and now they are spending his money, mom died without me, all she ever wanted was me to be by her side when she died, they denied me even that by their gossip and lies, making both parents believe I was some kind of monster, agreeing with dad's delusions and using them to get rid of me. Things are not as cut and dry as they seem. If nobody else were there to see the good work I was doing, the horrible abuse I was taking, and then my sister or a brother would have gotten paranod and wrote a note like the one above, from anonymous, not saying this is anything like your situation but if you aren't there to know exactly what's going on with your brother, is he caring for your parents? Do you know for a fact that he might do this type of thing?or is a paranoid parent saying things to get you upset and believe he might do something like that? Be sure to talk to him because elderly parents with an organic brain disorder can make a good person out to be a thief, my father always projected his mean thoughts, instead of saying he thinks this or that, he would say that I said this or that, when he knew it was too mean for him to say himself. He's always been a bit of a coward and never confronted anyone, always left that to me and my mother. Or left notes and disappeared. Now he has our whole family alienated from me, They don't know me, my sister makes things up, no matter what I do or say she can find a way to put a disgusting spin on it , to make people thing that's what I really meant. People are crazy and can be the biggest slime balls in the world, so be sure who is telling the truth, what is really going on before you accuse anyone or start hating someone without asking them about anything. Don't lose the use of communicating. Keep talking, nobody asked me anything, and when I felt something was wrong, I called everyone in my family and everyone said, "Oh nothing's wrong' you must be getting paranoid" yet when I came back to take care of mom, everything I had moved into the house was thrown out, my horses that I paid for were given away and sold but nobody knows who to. I can't get anything back and the fact that they said nothing was going on is a testimony that they were aware they were doing wrong and doing it all behind my back, Be careful, get in there and find out the facts.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My husband was given POA over his sisters and a couple have been out for revenge. Dad asked them before he passed not to make trouble. The one daughter was caught in fraud and a felony against them. A terrible falling out came next. Dad hired an attorney and his legal statement was taken to protect his son from what he knows she is capable of. This will handed over to the court if sister or sisters bring a baseless lawsuit. I'm pretty sure prison would be the out come. This sister will not help and leaves all their mothers care to my husband and I. I have cared for my mother in law for close to three years full time. I can collect a check every month which my father in law insisted that I take but I don't. Mom and dad signed over certain things to their son before dad passed. This was done legally. Be very careful to have all your facts in ordered before going forward. Slander and baseless lawsuits can get a person slapped with a counter suit. Make sure your acting out of concern for your mother and not how much money you will be left. Dad asked all the sisters what they were willing to do for their mother and the answer was very little. He was asking this for a reason, he was deciding what to leave them. The one sister at one point was deeded land in exchange for mom and dads care. When the time came for her to help she does not show up and tells her parents it was a gift. Dads lawyer said this is one of many felonies. Dad demanded it back or he would sue her. She had no choice unless she wanted to tell the judge how she strong armed them into signing it over in the first place. This same sister is married to a retired cop who helped couch her. But if you listen to her she will tell you how wonderful they are. Dad and mom refused to call the police and file a report. She thinks they got away with this. My husband decided I will no longer work for free when his sisters second guess him at every turn. Mom is in the late stage of six of her Alzheimer's. It's a lot of work and we have no life. Mom is now in a home and doing well. We visit all the time and I still take her to all of her appointments. A persons time is not free but the family thinks it is. My husband was asked to see to all repairs of their estate. My best advise again is to be very certain you have all your facts in order.