My sibling has forcibly taken over Mom's care, what can I do?

15 answers | Last updated: Aug 08, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother has dementia. Since February 2009 I have been seeing to mom's bank account. My sister who lives in Alanta, GA, is upset because I will not give her the password to Mom's bank account. She was here for Thanksgiving and has convinced our mother that I have been stealing from her and telling mom that she does not have dementia.

Our mom and my sister went to the bank and got access to her account and change the password. Now my mom has said that she does not want me in her house. I have called mom's doctor and told him about the situation. He wants to put mom on Seroquel. I do not know what to do. There is no way my sister can keep track of my mothers account living in another state.

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.

If your sister is an organized and conscientious type, it is possible for her to track your mother's account online, as many long-distance caregivers do. But that doesn't sound as if it's the biggest problem"”or the biggest hurt"”that you are now facing. What sounds most difficult is being branded a thief and being effectively banned from your mom's life.

Assuming you and your sister both want to remain in your mom's life, you will have to find a way to care for her together because that is simply the phase you're in now. You and your sister undoubtedly bring different talents and abilities to the table: one of you may be better at negotiating medical care, one of you better with finances.

In an ideal world, your mom, your sister and you could sit down and talk about what help your mom needs most and who might be best able to provide it. Don't overlook help from outsiders"”such as volunteers from community groups or services for the elderly. In many places, help is available free or for a low cost"”and often, having an outsider step in helps remove some of the angst or even competition siblings may feel when left with caregiving duties all on their own.

But if you, like many of us, live in a less than ideal world in which a civil sitdown with your sibling and mom would seem impossible right now, then again, consider enlisting the help of an outsider"”perhaps another relative or close family friend who could help moderate the discussion. If no one comes to mind, consider getting help from a family mediator or community dispute resolution group.

Community Answers

Ladynew answered...

Sounds like someone needs to apply for guardianship and conservatorship so that Probate monitors moms money that is being spent so that no one can misuse the money. not saying that anyone would misuse the money but it is protection . guardians and conservators have to answer to probate concerning her care and expenses

Ca-claire answered...

What does your mom's documents say about whom she wishes to take care of her? Does she have any paperwork? Keep in mind that getting guardianship/conservatorship means that strangers will have access to pick away at your mom's private affairs. Try to work things out with your sibling. My sister is 6 hours away from Mom and Dad. I handle the caregiving, she handles finances, as that is possible to do from a distance. I am good with caregiving, she is good with money.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Please don't take offense: I am not implying your sister is a thief. But my mother had dementia and my nephew convinced her to let him handle her financial affairs. or I would steal her money. I cared for her till she passed; he stole every dime; when she died I had to pay for her funeral. This has torn the family apart. Get help from probate court NOW you don't necessarily need a lawyer. It is hard to understand but when a person has dementia they are not rational and they may do very hurtful things.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Who is your mom power of attorney?

Uncle joe answered...

One of the many sad and unfortunate example of this type of conflict. Either there is ulterior motive involved or not. I don't know if this carer sister mismanaged her mum's money or not. Legal advice urgently needed to protect mum's interest and reputation of either sister. ACCOUNTABILITY IS THE KEY: I expect the one who has been managing the account has evidence of recorded withdrawals and reasons for them. With creative criminal intent even records can be falsified. Forensic accounting can deal with that. I urge to seek assistance and I assume there is medical documentation of mum's levels of capacities.

Suggest the "former" sister ask the "overtaking one" : say; please provide evidence of wrongdoing, ineptitude, poor caring. Accusations, assumptions untested, strongly held beliefs are NOT EVIDENCE. Some people are brutal, aggressive, unreasonable and domineering if they get away with it. Don't give away your power! Being "nice" does not always coincide with being "good". Doing the right thing may bring on hatred, venom and attack.

Be well! joseph.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Thanks, none of these answers helped as the situation has nothing to do with money or who handles the money, but the care of the parent. The sister that has just all of a sudden showed up has no clue how to motivate or encourage their parent where the other one that has been providing the care knows exactly what to do. It is more of a jealousy over the relationship and care that has been done and now this sister wanting to be in charge and make decisions over the care that are not in the best interest of the parent. Her idea of care is give a pain pill and sleep all day where as previously the parent was up most of the day and enjoying life to the fullest.

Uncle joe answered...


"Thanks, none of these answers helped as the situation has nothing to do with money or who handles the money, but the care of the parent" you start your response with. What then do you advise that would be a good alternative? The initial post (if you missed it) clearly shows MONEY IS an issue! If all the people offering their thoughts you said non are helpful, please educate me about effective alternatives I certainly want to learn. Sure there are more issues in the saga but money is prominent. I would be grateful for you giving us the good oil. be well! joseph.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Sorry Uncle Joe, this was not my post. I was told that this post may help with a question I had asked. I was directed to this answer. (but it was not my question). That is why I said it wasn't helpful to me. It was not the right answer for my question. Not sure why Caring.Org sent me here to say this was same as my question as it isn't.

Dds answered...

my sister will not show me the books- I threatened and she sent me a fax of just the bank account balance. she and I are increasingly at war- she wont share any information but is furious I have backed away from care giving since she has take over entirely and excludes me from information and decisions. she is RAGING at me.

I feel like she is treating me like a servant- removing me from all decisions- hiding bank information - who knows why- when I ask about money she says "mother has no money." that is unacceptable. She made a unilateral decision, for example, to move my mother in 30 days after my Dad passed away. Told me after the lease was signed. then expected me to pack.

My mother favors my sister in every way- but now my sister discovers the cargiving work is too much for her and is hysterically angry at me. She STILL wont share information but has said the more disgusting things to me in emails. i do not know what to do. this is horrible.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Dear dds, When I read your comments I thought I had written them. I am in a situation with my brother over mom very similar to yours.
Both my brother and I have Durable POA same document, but separate names. However, mom's bank accounts have always been set up joint with me. After dad past almost 20 years ago, I was the trustworthy one in the family, she said. My brother now in his 60's, has always lived with mom and dad, free/clear, I had to pay room/board, He has never had to pay any shared expenses, and still doesn't. Was working until laid-off, he says due to his lack of attendance because of mom's illness. Not at that time.

Now, I have taken advantage of all free legal consultations, and unfortunately, they all basically have said the same thing. To file for conservator/ guardanship of mom. Since mom's illness about 2-1/2 years now, nothing I have done has met my brother's standards, and he has done nothing but jerk me around for one reason or another.

We are at a turning point as now he will not let me see mom. My last visit resulted with him calling the police. However, they told both of us, since this is mom's home and she invited me in, (important factor) I am her daughter and also POA, he has no right to keep me from seeing her. The police also said he has "established residence" which is his only claim to fame and the judge may rule in his favor.

However, due to his nastiness and badgering emails, and yes I have kept them, I have had to retained a lawyer, who has opened a file, and at any given moment I will file. I am fearful of his motives and have even asked for a police escort to be allowed for visitation.
Law enforcement will honor my request however, I do not wish to upset her, so I have resigned myself to monitor from afar.

Each state has different laws so take advantage of "free legal advice" Most lawyers offer one hour free consultations. Does your sibling have a court order against you? You can call the County Court house for that.

Now here is the conclusion, my lawyer has informed me, due to the conflicts involving the family, a court rep will come to her home, evaluate her.
Most likely the judge will order a 3rd party, mom will become a ward of the court, remove mom from her home and order immediate sell of the property. All the money will go into a court appointed fund for mom.

As you say, mom favors your sibling. No doubt has convinced them you are the "bad guy". You have to chose your battles as what you want to do. How old is your mom? Dementia can last long time, it might be worth the court involvement for you. My mom's health is failing with other complications and I feel she will probably pass during court involvement. I remember mom's wishes before she became ill, and I am also her Will executor. The trusted sibling. My brother may hide behind mom's apron now, but when she passes, I will deal with him on my terms.

My suggestion is for you to keep records, all receipts, all documents from your sibling and also what you do. Justify your actions. Keep everything neatly filed in case this goes to court. Keep records, become a detective of sorts, call the bank, merchants, utility companies, doctors for follow ups.Most people are helpful. Some require the POA papers, others don't.

And there is no need to inform your sibling what you are doing. Should you file, let the court tell your sibling. Be one-step ahead. It will know doubt become nasty, perhaps with the results you didn't want.
I have a banker's box, folders marked for easy access. Yes, it is time consuming, but easier now, than trying to back track for info later. What has irritated him, I know longer respond back to his remarks. I just file them away.

Yes it stings, and yes I am angry.. I feel I am grieving for mom and she hasn't past away. I try to remember when she was well and what her wishes were. I attend caregiver support groups for advice and keep in touch with doctors and other counselors. Good Luck to you and take care of yourself.

Dds2 answered...

Hi. This is DDS. thank you for your comments. Today, like every Sunday, I took my mother to lunch. She said I should do more and also that she and my sister have become best friends. I told her I knew that, they have always been best friends. The entire thing was very weird and painful. She sort of added that I am ok too. Honestly, I do not want to be like them at all. They are alike. I like who I am a lot. so it is being told I don't belong to a club I would never join. but still it hurt. Not sure why- just weird to have her tell me directly she favors my sister....

Been there too! answered...

I am answering you because I can see and hear my plight in all your words. My mother died in 2004. She had a stroke and had to be cared for, for 5 years. I was the caregiver for the first year and a half and had legal joint guardian ship of her and her bank account, with my brother. I know how alone you can feel, even if you get phone calls, you are there alone dealing with everything. My brother and his wife decided that it would be better if they took care of Mom because there was the two of them and just one of me. So I agreed and helped out once a week to, of course to see mom and help to give them time off. Well as time went on the money also went for things that weren't related to my mom. I took my name off the account and had the court have him answer once a year to them as to where the money went. After the first year the court took over. I never asked why, but I knew. So now the relationship with my brother is not there. I have tried many times to talk to him but he won't and now he is in therapy. The thing is my mom's doctor told me in the beginning that caring for your parent will break your family apart, the best thing to do is place her in a nursing home! I wouldn't listen, she is my mother I can't do that!
Now 10 years later I would not trade the time that I cared for her for anything. I still grieve over the loss of my brother though. Money problems and all.

Mom7237 answered...

Your situation sounds so familiar to mine. I agree with the other feedback as to first try to find a resolution w/ your sibling. I will ask who has Power of Attorney, Patient Advocate, and is there a Will? And although it may seem painful to resort to a Court appointed Conservator and Guardian, it may be the best. Although, my mom had me on as joint ownership of her accounts, Brother living w/ mom, found ways to access her money. Having an outside Conservator provides less headache. However, Brother was allowed to be Guardian, (he would not allow me to visit her) and I would have had to fight for visitation. Mom was sick, CA and GA only last 10 months, before she passed away. The CA had made arrangements for me to see her before she died. (many blessings to her). Mom had made me Personal Rep of her Estate, which Brother contested. However, mom's Will held strong, Brother's filing was denied. After mom died, I had to Evict him from mom's house. (another long story) anyways, what I'm trying to say, is keep records of all transactions, keep a journal, keep notes. Should you need to go to Court, this will all come in handy. However, court / lawyer fees came out of mom's account. Brother "hell bent to prove a point" that he could continue to use mom's money. Until Conservatorship took over, he thought he would continue to have free reign. He was then held accountable to the Conservatorship.
I pray you can find a resolution. My family could not and even when mom had died, no one had called me until near 2 days later. Brother gave instructions to the funeral home that they not give me any details. Although, the CA kept me informed it was bitter-sweat. Court intervention does resolve many conflicts. I wish I could write a book. I pray you find a resolution. It is never easy. God bless

Sandrahansell answered...

I have parents that have dementia, a brother that is on disability who only came around for the last 20 yrs. to bum money off them. My stepmom became ill and ended up in the hospital, at that time he took my dad to the lawyer and talked him into signing power of attorney. I took him to court over it, proved he his wife, his son, and step aunt took money, but he had turned my step mom against me at that time, the judge granted him conservator ship. I was shocked, I thought the judge should have at least appointed a third person to be conservator ship. Since then, he quit giving my dad his medicine, and he has since died. While my dad lay dying in the hospital, he went and bought a new car, never came to say good by to him, or even come to his funeral. He has talked my stepmom into signing everything over to him. Like their money and house. He took my dad's truck home and still has it. He has sold everything and pocketed a lot of the money, my dad told me before he died that he made up a fake account and was taking the money from it. My parents had a will they often told me about it. My brothers son and my son were executors on it, they didn't even notify my son, and had already had my nephew made executor, my son called and asked about it, they said we don't need you my brother son volunteered to do it. This is one of them we proved took money in the begging. This is all under a lawyer. I come to the reality there is no justice, my brother used my parents money to fight me with, I had to pay for what I could afford, I hired a lawyer that was just passed the bar a week before. He still proved they took money, it was ignored. And his attorney knew my brother had alienated me from my parents. Seems like the only justice with him with be in Gods hands. This has really put me and my family through the ringer.