August 19, 2018 at 11:22 am #4581
This is a complicated issue that is hard to explain in without a lot of detail. I’ll do my best to keep it short but there are a lot of details that are relevant.
A quick summery of my roll and where I fit in. My mother is currently 77 and a few years ago asked me if I would consider moving back in with her to help her out with things. I am one of 4 kids. I’m the only boy and am 50. I have 2 older sisters and one younger one. Mom is living in the home I grew up in. Her and dad built the home in 1976. He has told me and my sisters that she hopes to live out her remaining years here and would like to avoid going to a nursing home if at all possible. Health wise she has had a heart attack and some related health issues but her doctor sees no reason she can’t stay in her home.
A couple years ago, my 17 year old niece, who is my youngest sisters first child asked mom if she could move in with her for her senior year of high school. My sister lost custody of her when she was 1 so her grandparents on her fathers side were given legal custody and raised her. My sister was allowed bi weekly supervised visitation but rarely took advantage of it so my parents would get her for the weekend every two weeks. It seemed odd for a high school senior to want to change schools part way through her senior year but mom welcomed her with open arms. The grandparents that raised her were ok with the move so my niece moved in and got registered and started attending the local high school.
I thought it would be nice to get to know my niece better because from birth to 17 I didn’t get much time with her. I started noticing she had a tendency to stretch the truth much of the time. She also started having problems at school and mom was getting called form the school counselor expressing concern. My niece always had a story to go with the issues and it was always someone else’s fault and was being picked on. Eventually she made the announcement that she was dropping out of school because everyone hated her and picked all the time so she needed to leave. Mom talked to the counselor and to her other grandparents about the situation. Her other grandparents said she had no issues with anything at the other school and claimed this was all new. The counselor expressed concern that my niece was bullying one of her classmates who was dealing with a difficult death in her family and was depressed and struggling. Several classmates and the depressed girl said that would tell the girl that she should kill herself and get it over with. My niece claimed that was a lie and told a different story of why she was not liked. The story didn’t check out and I’ll refrain from the details because there is a legal issue that may eventually come back to haunt her. The local sheriff is looking into that part of it. Mom however believes my nieces version and considers her the victim.
My younger sister had a similar history and at age 40 is still considered the victim of situations she causes. As with my sister, my niece can do no wrong. She is moody and frequently yells at my mother and calls her names. I’ve had several talks with her telling her to have some respect for her grandmother. She always apologizes but she also talks to mom telling her I am picking on her. Mom again defends her. After a lifetime of dealing with my sister I know this is a losing situation so I bite my tongue most of the time.
I did try talking my niece into looking at other alternatives rather than dropping out of high school. She said her old school was not an option and didn’t want to check out any of the nearby schools or even an online high school. I offered to help her out as much as possible but her mind was made up.
This is getting long I’ll try to shorten it up. I just want to establish that mom’s mind is as sound as ever and my niece has some issues that should have been diagnosed when she was a minor.
My niece is 19 now and based on her actions over the last two years does not have a lot of ambition to do much of anything. She can’t cook even the simplest of meals for herself. She won’t pick up after herself. But all of the sudden she told mom that she had a job lined up with a dj company she used to work for when she lived with her other grandparents. The job was a one night dj job in Florida. We live in Minnesota and the dj company does business in Minnesota. She told mom she would get paid $2000 for the job but needed money to get down there and other expenses. Mom wrote out a check for $800 to her and was told she would be paid back right away. The whole story was a lie and mom believed it and is so proud of her for doing so well. An hour before she told mom about the job in Florida, she told me she needed to go to California in a day or two but was worried about a storm in the Rocky Mountains. She asked me if there was a way to get to LA without driving through the mountains. There isn’t so the next thing I heard was she was on her way to Florida. When she got home there was some reason the guy didn’t pay her right way but she’s have the money in two weeks. That story got her another $650 check from mom. Two weeks later she had a story way the guy wasn’t going to pay her and now she’s screwed out the money.
The stories continue and checks are written out and I’ve tried to point out where my niece is lying and that rewarding bad behavior with large amounts of money is not a good idea. At first mom told me she wasn’t giving her money and that her other grandparents were the ones paying for the trips and new car. I tried staying calm and printed out several of the canceled checks written to my niece and showed mom her monthly expenses and income and how her savings were not going to last because she was spending more than her social security income every month. I said we should talk to someone and help get a budget figured out. I told her that to be able to keep the home her and dad built she would have to stop financing the one grandchild that is eating up her savings. No go. She switched to giving the kid cash.
After the Florida trip, my niece has been to LA twice and Arizona I believe three times. The first LA trip was according to my niece a work thing. She told mom and posted on Facebook that she was hired to model in a photo shoot for LAX Magazine. The second trip to LA was because she had a part in a movie. The lies are getting bigger and still mom believes every word.
One more financial detail that may be relevant. Before I realized that mom was funding my niece one of our neighbors contacted mom and wanted to know if she would be interested in selling some of the farmland. She said yes and they worked out a price but in 2012 shortly after dad passed away she put the home and land in a life estate so it was in our names. My three sisters and myself are 1/4 owners. I was interested in buying the land but knew I was several years away form affording it and mom was expressing concern that she would not have enough money to live the rest of her life if she didn’t sell. Two of the sisters tried to stop the sale and were coming down hard on mom for what appeared to be selfish reasons. My other sister didn’t care and was willing to sign just to keep mom happy. I had selfish reasons to want to stop the sale but mom’s financial situation seemed to be the important issue so in the end I signed the last of my fathers land leaving use with a home and farm buildings on 10 acres where there used to be 200.
After attorney fees and other expenses my mom ended up with just over $40,000. I fear most of that has gone to my niece. I’ve been told that what my niece is doing is elder abuse. Whether the kid is lying or not, mom cannot afford to keep financing whatever the kid is doing. I’ve been told to talk to the local sheriff or DA and bring copies of the canceled checks and any other proof of money paid to the grandchild. The checks alone in 2018 exceed $7000. There are occasional telephone transfers from Mom’s account to an account I believe is my nieces but I can’t readily prove. Occasional charges to moms debit card to Itunes is pretty obvious as my niece is the only one here with an Iphone. Without trying too hard I can pick out at least $20,000 in checks, transfers and random charges that are obviously not moms.
Is there a way we can protect mom’s financial assets when she is willingly giving the kid the money? She is even willing to lie about the money she’s giving and the checks have slowed down and I fear she has pulled other funds to pay the kid cash. At this rate, mom will not be able to afford to stay in the home she once said she wanted to. I am at my wits end. Any advise or information you can share will be greatly appreciated.
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