How can she protect her mother from stepchildren's interference?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 19, 2016
Brendat asked...

My friend's step-father is in rehab after having a second stroke in February. The recovery is going to be very lengthy. Her mother has Alzheimer's and is now staying with her because she doesn't want to be alone (and shouldn't be). There are step-siblings who live out of state and come in every four months and try to take over. Is there anyway my friend can protect her mother financially if things don't end well?

Expert Answers

I'm unclear what the step-siblings are trying to take over. Are they trying to take over control of the step-father's finances? If so, the step-father would have to agree and consent to that. He is recovering from a second stroke, but I gather that he remains mentally competent.

I'm also unclear what you mean about "protecting her mother financially if things don't work out well." What would be "not working out well"? The death of the stepfather? More likely, you mean protecting the mother's rights to income and property of the stepfather, both while he is alive and on his death.

What's crucial is what the stepfather wants and has arranged. He he prepared a will, or other transfer document such as a living trust? What does his will/living trust provide? Will he discuss that with your friend? Can she obtain copies of the documents? And does he provide any support/income now to his wife?

If your friend can determine what the step-father wants, the next step is trying to prevent the step-siblings from taking undue advantage of the step-father.If the step-siblings are determined to do that, it's not easy to stop them. But if your friend has the step-father's will, she could alert the step-siblings to that, and indicate that the step-father has stated he does not want his will changed. Your friend could get witnesses to the step-father stating this.

Your friend's ability to protect her mother's interest seems to me to depend primarily on your friend's relationship with her stepfather. If he won't cooperate with your friend, it will be difficult for her limit the step-siblings control.