Mom's manipulation lands her in legal trouble

neonrainNovember 11, 2007

My mom is probably in her mid to late 70's. I am not certain because for as long as I have been alive, I have known my mother to be manipulative and a liar to benefit herself. She has landed herself in big trouble, partly do to her limit in the English language and inability to understand the law, and because she thought she would never get caught.

She became Trustee of her brother's estate but could not handle the duties. She 'gave' the job to another relative, without going to court and allowed that person to assume her identity. You must think I am nuts, but let me tell you that not all old people are sweet. Anyway, my mother hid the paperwork never letting the beneficiaries know that they were going to inherit the entire estate. With the help of the other relative, the relative embezzled the trust funds, and a month later the true beneficiaries became aware of the fact that they were going to lose their inheritance because my mother failed to inform them, as was her duty as Trustee. Long story short, this has lead to a litigation filed by 3 beneficiaries against my mother and the relative. Here it is 8 months later, and my mother who inherited $75k, on a POD account, was ordered to return the money to the law firm, so they could take correct accounting. In all honesty, my mother who has bouts of possible dementia, had alot to do with over $200,000 in funds missing. Now as the suit nears possible end, we were informed by the beneficiaries attorney, that my mother faces losing her entire $75k, and it is likely the judge will award the money to the beneficiaries because my mother failed to carry out her duty in a legal and honest matter and maintained silence as to the missing $200k funds as outlined in the court documents. I am ashamed that she could do such a thing! I informed her yesterday that she may lose her money when I spoke to the attorney and it is possible they will let her mediate for a portion, but if she doesn't she may loose it. We received 10 pages of legal court docs yesterday, with a headline reading that they filed a petition for surcharge against my mother. She is going to go crazy if she loses her money. How do I deal with this and make her understand. She says the judge has no right. She talked to an attorney on her own that told her she was in the wrong to cheat her siblings and therefore may pay a price. How do I deal with an aging mother that didn't know the law, or choses to ignore it, but is definitely manipulative by nature? I don't want it to cost us our relationship as I am the only one left as she has burned all of her bridges with her relatives.

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What a mess! I honestly do not think that you can do anything for your mother aside from getting her an attorney and (repetitively) stating that she did the wrong thing. Stand by her, but don't make excuses for her. She may be angry with you, but she will come around later. But there is nothing that you can do to change the circumstances, short of having very deep pockets and paying everyone off yourself.

You can always tell the attorney or the judge that you do not believe that your mother was capable of handing any more than very simple financial matters. But that leads you down another road, which is to determine if she is able to take care of her own finances. If that is honestly the case (dementia/incompetence as opposed to outright theft), you are looking at establishing a guardianship arrangement on her behalf. But judges won't usually do this without complicated evidence of dementia or other debilitating conditions.

No, I think that you are doing all that is possible for you to do. She does not understand, or she refuses to understand, the situation that she has caused herself. Don't make excuses, and don't "side" with her, as in "yeah, that judge is wrong". Tell her that these are the laws and she did not follow the law, and must suffer the consequences.

If you are concerned that she will no longer have sufficient money to continue her current living situation, you can be prepared for that.

You say that you are the only one in the family that she has left, and I can see why. You're a good person and doing a good job. Keep it up, don't make excuses for her, or side with her, just be there. If she cuts the relationship with you, there isn't much you can do about it. But I'd bet that even if she does, or says hurtful things, she'll come back to you.

Sometimes just keeping one's mouth shut is the hardest thing to do. Just be quiet and just be there. It's gonna get worse, I fear.

Good luck, and let us know what happens next.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 6:38PM
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Fairegold gave you excellent advice. If I understand the situation correctly, she's actually lucky that her only consequence will be possibly losing her portion of her brother's inheritance. Will she have to face any additional consequences? Unfortunately, what your mother did is really serious.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 6:46PM
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Serious business. Nasty, too. No place to hide on this deal. She's a crook!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 11:16AM
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