Can I handle my mother's finances and not upset my siblings?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother is on hospice and has maybe one month left to live. I am the youngest of three children. My mother and I have always lived close to each other, spent everyday together and are best friends. I have been her primary caregiver for a couple of years now. Because of my relationship with my mother, my brother and sister have had tremendous jealousy towards me. They have never helped take care of my mother except when it was convenient for them nor have they made an attempt to have a really close relationship with her by telephoning regularly or visiting. Now, all of a sudden, they are both making a mad dash to make up for lost time and try and resolve any issues they may have with her, which is too late now because it is almost impossible for Mom to talk.

My mother had asked me to take over her finances but I knew it would cause a problem with my siblings so I never did it. After my mother told my sister that she asked me, my sister jumped right in and started to do the bills. However, she was caught stealing money from my mother so my brother and I took that responsibility away from her. Because of the lack of trust between the siblings my brother and I were going to hire an accountant to take over the finances. It was even my brother's idea and we interviewed an accountant. Now my brother is saying he does not want to hire an accountant and that he wants us to do it. I just found out from my sister that my brother is so short on cash that he wants to write himself a check for $4500 and asked my sister and me to do the same.

I have always promised my mother that I would take care of her and watch out for her best interests, not to mention to honor her last wishes. I told my sister that no, I would not write myself a check and that I did not think they should. My mother has only been given about two more weeks to live and they already want to start taking her money without her consent and now I am the one standing in their way of getting what they want. What do I do? I want to go right to the accountant on Monday and hire her and give her my mothers important papers and checkbooks. I will do anything I can to stand up for my mother because she can not do it for herself. I am afraid that it is going to be two against one. What should I do?

Community Answers

Galowa answered...

First of all, IMMEDIATELY, DO AS YOUR MOTHER ASKED YOU and take over her finances. Forget about your brother and sister, nothing will ever make them happy, but this WILL make HER happy. Right now, she is all that matters. She trusts you, and she is rewarding that trust with responsibility.

Then, CALL an elder law attorney ( A WOMAN ATTORNEY would probably be best,) and ask for a "home" consultation. Tell the attorney's office it is a CRITICAL EMERGENCY and you need the appointment TOMORROW IF POSSIBLE. TIME is of the essence.

Your mother's funds should be used to pay for the attorney. Your mother and ALL you children will benefit from the professional handling of her estate. If an accountant is called for the attorney will be able to arrange everything. The attorney will assist her by executing a Durable Power of Attorney for Health and Finances, and reviewing her WILL with her.

Let the attorney review your mother's final wishes with her PRIVATELY, without input or influence from any of you children. Most people want to treat their offspring equally. However, it would also be a disservice to yourself and your mother not to inform the attorney of the important long-term role you have played in your mother's life - and in her journey into death. This is only fair. JUST DON'T WAIT.

Good luck, and HURRY! It will make your mom SO happy and give her a real sense of peace. And, it will simplify things after her death. Let a professional be the bad guy. It's worth every penny...

Personalmoneymanager answered...

I'm not sure when this was written so it may be too late for your Mom, but not for other aging parents and their families. I would recommend getting on the website and finding a local daily money manager who may be even more experienced than an accountant in handling this type of situation. As DMM's we work in seniors' homes on their daily financial tasks, including handling requests from the seniors' family and their conflicting requests. Hope this works out!