“My Sisters and I Are Fighting Over My (Living) Mother’s Money”

I am the youngest of four daughters and have recently had a falling out with one of my sisters. My three sisters all married successful men and they also had careers of their own. I am a teacher, and my husband, who is an immigrant, works in the auto industry. Overall, my siblings have substantial income, while my husband and I have struggled for years. We all have children, but my children are the youngest in the family. In addition, one of my sons is autistic and another son is bipolar.

My father died 24 years ago and my sisters and I all got inheritances from his estate. My mother dispensed the money directly to my sisters, while, with my portion, she paid off my student loans. She also provided me with the down payment for my first house with this inheritance. My oldest sister declared bankruptcy 20 years ago, and my mother allowed her to rent the family home while my mother bought another house for herself, where she has since lived. My sister raised her children in the family home and remained there long after the bankruptcy was over, and, although she has since bought a vacation home, she continues to live in the family house. She does not pay rent, but she pays the property tax for the house, which is negligible.

Six years ago my husband and I lost our house in a bankruptcy. We moved back near my mother and family and have been renting a house. But it has been a tremendous struggle. I will admit that my mom has helped us financially. I have gone to her when we needed money and she has given me money. I always told her exactly why I needed the money and have always used it as I stated. However, my sister has stated that she feels that I have used up my inheritance from my mom already since she has helped me.

My mom has beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and lives alone. She and I have spoken about getting a house with an in-law unit, which would be mutually beneficial. We both know that my oldest child will never be able to live independently and, eventually, when my mom passes away, we would keep that in mind. Well, my mom suggested that I call our family attorney, which I did. The attorney made a few suggestions to talk over with my mom.

However, when I told my sister and mother about the conversation, my sister took me aside and told me that she, and the other sisters, all feel that I am scamming my mom and that they will not allow me to “hoodwink” her. She told me that my call to an attorney was “underhanded” and that I have a lot of nerve to talk to my mother about this. I was so stunned that I didn’t respond, with the exception of asking her if she feels that way about my oldest sister who lives in the family home. She said that she used to feel that way until my brother-in-law passed away two years ago. As previously stated, her children are grown and have moved away.

At this point, I am ready to cut off all ties with all siblings except for the sake of my mother. She is 89 years old and I don’t want to have her last few years be stressed with family strain. However, I am seething inside, particularly at the accusation of “hoodwinking” and “scamming” my mom. I did tell my mom that my sisters would not support our getting a house together, and my mom was disappointed because she had really wanted to do this. My mother has also given money to my other sisters, but not as much as she’s given me. I do feel that it is my mother’s money and she does what she wants with it — and that, if that included helping me out, that is between the two of us.

Please let me know your thoughts on this. I am trying to stay low and not get into a battle over this situation, but I would really like your opinion. — Sister Resentment

You and your sisters have a sense of entitlement that is likely at the root of all your family problems. Maybe your financial problems, too. When have any of you had to be financially responsible? When you have student loans, your mom pays them off for you with inheritance from your father. When you want a house, your mom provides the down payment with inheritance from your father. When anyone filed for bankruptcy and loses a home, Mom gives away her house and buys another for herself. Just ask whenever you need financial help and it will be provided!

It must be nice to have a money tree. And yet…you and your sisters sound…kind of miserable. And like you feel as if you STILL haven’t gotten your due worth. Now you’re fighting over your inheritance from your mother who isn’t dead yet! Her money isn’t anyone’s inheritance; it’s HER money. She can do with it whatever she pleases, including giving it to you whenever you ask because you and your husband struggle to pay your rent and support your family, and including letting your older sister live in a house she owns, rent-free for 20+ years, and including buying a house with you (or FOR you, even, if that’s the case) with an in-law suite (sorry, in-law unit).

And your other sisters who resent her (and you) for spending money they mistakenly think they’re entitled to can suck it. Just like you can suck it for losing your mind over your older sister living rent-free in the “family house” all these years. You have the audacity to resent that after all you’ve been given? And then you blame your sisters for having the same reaction when your mother starts talking about buying YOU a house? (Oh, but it’s different for you because you and your husband struggle while you think your sister who lives rent-free in the house your mother owns doesn’t struggle — even though her husband’s dead — because her kids are grown and presumably she doesn’t support them anymore? That’s kind of funny logic coming from a grown woman who has remained at least partially supported, along with her grown sisters, by her mother throughout her adulthood…).

All of you have screwed-up priorities. And your parents are probably to blame for that in large part. They — and the money they’ve thrown at all of you all these years — are the common denominator here. But you’re all adults now and you have to take responsibility. You have to take responsibility not only for your screwed-up priorities (seemingly valuing money over family, for one thing), but also for the financial messes you’ve made for yourselves despite what seems like a lot of generosity and help extended to you over the years. And part of being an adult who takes responsibility for things is dealing with the repercussions of your decisions.

If you decide to buy a house with your mother (or let her buy the house for you as I’m unclear here about the details of who would be buying it), then you know there will be consequences. Some of the consequences will be beneficial (and mutually so, if you are able to give your mother the emotional and physical support she needs as her illness worsens); some will not. Your sisters, or at least the one sister who is making the most noise, will resent you.

She/they will continue to see you as draining their inheritance. They may cause tension when the whole family gets together. They may make your mother feel bad. But…she’s an adult, too. And she can take responsibility for her actions and decisions as well. And it’s ok for you to let her handle your sisters’ anger and resentment. It’s not your job to protect her from all that.

If your mother wants to buy you a house that she can live in, let her. And if your sisters all get their panties in a wad, just like you’ve had yours in a wad over your oldest sister living rent-free in the family home all these years, let ’em. It doesn’t sound like there’s much love lost between you all anyway.

As you said: it’s your mother’s money. She can do what she wants with it. Including giving all her kids an unfortunate sense of entitlement.


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  1. Replies like this are why we all <3 you Wendy!!!

    I don't even want to imagine the shitstorm when mommy dies. Heck, even before. Alzheimer's is so shitty and depersonalizing the daughters will be knocking each other out way before the actual inheritance comes to play.

  2. I can’t fathom having money readily available and still going bankrupt. What the fuck are you people doing? Living way beyond your means, apparently.

    1. Yes! Plus 2 siblings going bankrupt tells me something went very wrong in their upbringing and (lack of) financial education, beyond their awful entitlement

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        Maybe their sense of entitlement was their financial education.

    2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      I’m thinking, based on the amount of money the parents seem to have/had, this is an upper-middle class family and the four daughters are accustomed to a certain lifestyle — one that they feel entitled to have as adults, even if they personally can’t afford it. You go bankrupt when you to try replicate the upper-middle class lifestyle you grew up in as an adult on a teacher’s salary, etc.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        You can buy a middle class home on a teacher’s salary plus an auto industry salary so they must have really pushed the limit when purchasing their home or they lived beyond their means by taking out home equity loans that they couldn’t pay or maybe both.

      2. It is so very easy for people to do that. Which is why the housing crisis happened. People think they deserve a certain level of house, car, etc because it’s what they’re used to or want. Not because it’s what they can afford. And I actually think it’s easier to go bankrupt when someone is always there to save you. All the little bad decisions are fixed and then suddenly they become bigger and bigger until they cannot be easily fixed.

      3. It’s insanity! These parents failed their children big time.

      4. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Some people go bankrupt due to things like personal catastrophes, like medical bills. I would think that she would have mentioned it if that were the case though, since it puts her in a better light.

    3. I’m not too educated about finances, but I think when a large amount of money has been misspent, going bankrupt can be the least treacherous option. Don’t quote me on that.
      Donald Trump has gone bankrupt at least once and somehow he has maintained his riches. It can be done.
      Edit: Not that I’m an advocate for Trump I despise him.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Trump has never gone personally bankrupt. He’s gone through corporate bankruptcy, which is very different. If you’re going through personal bankruptcy, your finances are completely screwed. It can be the best option if you’re in a hole that you can otherwise never get out of, but it’s never good.

    4. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I dated a guy like this. His mom had grown up in poverty and didn’t want her sons to go without things. They all worked but would spend their money on whatever impulse took them in the minute and then when bills came due like car payments or car repairs their mom would give them the money because she said she didn’t want them to go without. They couldn’t manage a paycheck to make it last two weeks, even when living with their parents. I can’t imagine any of them managing to save up to buy a house, let alone making the payments on the house.

  3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    If mom didn’t help with things like down payments they would have been forced to save their own money to buy a house and might have been more realistic about what they could afford. Lots of teachers buy houses without going bankrupt. The bankruptcy means you bought more than you could afford. When you chose to marry your husband you knew that you would have less income than your sister’s families and that was fine or you wouldn’t have gotten married. You needed to live within the reality of your choices. My husband and I have had no help from our families. None. We bought our house through our own hard work and our own savings. We also bought all the furniture and everything else in the house. In a few years your mom will be gone and you and your sister’s will all be forced to get by without help from mom. It’s time you learned how to do that.

  4. Honestly, I think the other sisters are thinking a little short sided. If LW is going to be living with her mother, she is going to be the primary caretaker of her mother. Something that takes a lot of time and, if she was in privatized care, would probably drain the inheritance completely. While Alzheimers patients lose their mental capacities, they often are just fine in the physical sense and can continue to live a very long time, though they need round the clock care.

    I would encourage LW to make sure that she has a discussion with the attorney and her mother to make sure that she gets to keep the house after her mother dies. Otherwise, if the mother owns it, it will be part of the pot to split between her sisters and she most likely will have to move out and the house will be sold. I only mention this because my mother had a similar situation when she was the caretaker of her mother and was not really prepared to have to completely move out of the house she had been occupying for the past 10 years. Thoughts for the older sister as well, since she is “renting” and doesn’t own the house. Unless it’s called out specifically in the will, it will be a part of the larger divided inheritance.

    Deaths, and specifically inheritances, can bring out the very worst in people.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I was thinking the same thing. When mom dies both sister’s would be without homes because the homes would be part of the assets that need to be split between four daughters.

      1. And LM’s also correct in that if mom had to be put in a nursing home, which I’m sure would be a very nice nursing home, or had to hire an around the clock caretaker, the inheritance pot would shrink by a lot.
        I think my grandpa was hoping to leave more of an inheritance to my dad and the rest of his children, but living and medical expenses ended up costing most of what he had his last, IDK, 10 years of life.

      2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        Even if she lives in a home with the LW she will still end up needing care round the clock. It would probably be cheaper than a home but will still run through quite a bit of money and hiring someone to take care of her mom one-on-one rather than as part of a group might not be cheaper. It might also depend on whether her mom has nursing home insurance. If she does the insurance would pay for the home. One of my aunts has it and is living in a facility that costs $4000 per month and she isn’t paying anything for it.

    2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Very good point about the privatized care for the mother being a huge expense. I wonder if the LW, who says she’s a teacher, is prepared to truly be a primary caregiver in that sense or if a professional caregiver would still need to be hired. Something for everyone to think about and discuss. I would think that caring for a bipolar son (which may require not very much care at all or a lot, depending on various factors) and an autistic son is already quite taxing. To care full-time for an alzheimers patient on top of that while also keeping a demanding career? I wonder how realistic the LW is being about that. My FIL is 95 and requires around-the-clock care. I/we are very, very grateful he has the means to pay for that private care, even if it means less money left when he dies (ugh, gross even saying that). These four daughters should feel equally grateful that their mother seems to have the means to not only care for herself (really, such a blessing!), but to continue supporting them. I can’t believe they’re really focusing on what will be leftover for them when she’s dead. Ugh.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yes, the way they are thinking about it is disgusting. They are all looking for their paycheque, it’s so gross. I feel sorry for their mother, having daughters who seem to care so little for her as a person.
        That being said, they should be thinking about what happens to the money while their mother is still alive. Forget the inheritance. What is the best way to use this money to care for their mother during the time she has left? And they don’t know how long that will be, or how much it will cost.
        Personally I would like the idea of having my mother live with me, because then at least her residence is taken care of, and also she has someone with her who cares about her. But I would hire around-the-clock care once it gets to that point. And I would document how much it costs so that when I take that amount out of my mother’s funds to pay for it, I don’t get blamed for “stealing” from the inheritance. Same for the house – I would make an agreement with her about paying rent, and start taking that out. Personally I would take that rent money and either put it towards her care, or into an emergency fund that I could dip into if her money runs out. Because once the aging parent lives with you, you’re pretty much stuck with the bills if the money runs out. Especially in this family; I can’t see any of the sisters chipping in for it. So if the LW does this, she needs to start thinking about how she’s going to protect herself in the future from her sisters’ lawsuits, which I don’t think is a stretch if there doesn’t end up being any inheritance left.

      2. Anonymous says:

        This is so true. My grandmother had a very large savings when she developed Alzheimer’s. After 12 years of illness she passed with barely anything left. Her care cost over $10,000 per month. Our family is so thankful she had this money saved that she intended as inheritance for everyone. It was much better spent giving her the care she deserved as this truly horrible disease took over.

    3. They are not thinking about their mother’s care, their only concern is the money.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        They are only thinking about how much each of them can get without thinking about how to maximize that amount. They don’t care if there would be more left over is the youngest sister took care of mom, they only care that mom would help buy the house that she would then live in. They don’t even care that mom would live there. They apparently would rather have their mom live alone.

      2. ArtsyGirl says:

        They might be realistic knowing that in all likelihood that no matter how good of care the LW provides, eventually the mother will need to end up in a medical facility. Just projecting, I believe that they see it as having to cut into their inheritance by paying for the LW’s home and will then have to cut further in order to pay for the expense of assisted living. I am not sure if this is their reasoning, just trying to figure out any motivation for adult women fighting over hypothetical inheritances when their mother really needs support.

    4. I agree that the house needs to be explicitly noted in the will. My grandmother (who is horrible with finances) moved into her MIL’s old house maybe 30 or 40 years ago. When her MIL (my great-grandmother) died, she left the house to my mom and her siblings because my grandmother can’t be trusted to own the house. My mother and one of her brothers thought “oh well let’s just let her keep living her like she has been for decades”. My aunt and other uncle wanted to kick her out and sale the house. The house isn’t worth much at all. It’s tiny, needs work, and in the middle of nowhere. But my aunt and uncle are outraged they are missing the opportunity to make a small amount of money. It’s seriously a point of contention 10 years later. For example, my cousin left her abusive, stalker boyfriend to move in with my grandmother, and my aunt and uncle were pissed she moved in without their approval because it’s “their” house. My mom, when asked her opinion, said she felt my grandmother can have whatever house guests she wants and that the family should be happy my cousin has escaped a bad situation. Of course since there’s 4 siblings, everything is always 2 vs 2 with no tiebreaker. It’s really sad to see middle aged people act so petty, but I guess that’s the world we live in. These are people that grew up in poverty, so I guess it’s not just the upper class that is negatively influenced by financial reasons.

  5. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    It is called an in-law suite here. I’ve never heard it called a unit, that sounds cold and impersonal.

    1. I was imagining it being separated from the main house in some way, which is why it was called unit. When I think of suite I think of it being in the main footprint of the house.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        A lot of houses have them here. They are attached in some way to the house and have an internal door to the main house but usually also have their own front door. In order to keep people from renting them out and making a one family home effectively a two family home they don’t allow a stove in the in-law suite. It can have kitchen counters and a built in microwave but no cooktop or oven. There is always a living room a bedroom and a bathroom, some also have the kitchen nook area minus a stove.

      2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        I’m thinking a suite is more like a large bedroom with it’s own full bathroom, whereas a “unit” is like a studio apartment or even a small house (attached to or at least on the shared property of the main house) with its own kitchen and own entrance, etc.

      3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I think the terms are probably regional and what they involve is controlled by local zoning. Zoning around here doesn’t allow what would effectively be a second home to be built on a property so no unit that isn’t attached to the main home is allowed.

      4. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I think the term suite is used because it refers to a suite of rooms. A bedroom with bathroom but no other extra rooms would be called a second master bedroom here. Our friends remodeled their house to have four master bedrooms plus an in-law suite. Again, I think the terms are regional and people in the area understand what the term includes.

    2. We call them granny flats in Australia.

  6. Thank you, Wendy. LW – it’s your mother’s money. Not yours. Not your sisters. Y’all need to get a grip. Every single one of you, your money woes are your own faults. Fighting over your living mother’s money? Pathetic. It’s not yours. You aren’t entitled to it. She can do whatever she damn well pleases with it, and honestly? I hope she gives it away because it’s sad that a bunch of grown women can’t take care of themselves, even though they have careers and additional support from their spouses. Filing for bankruptcy and then receiving continued financial support from Mom means you don’t know how to manage money and you’re also not living within your means. Fighting over money that isn’t yours… I will never understand it.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      Once mom is gone they’ll be in trouble, especially the two who have gone bankrupt and lost their homes. They have never been able to be self-supporting and suddenly they will both be on their own with no ability to manage their own money. They will run through whatever they inherit and then they’ll hit rock bottom because there will be no one to bail them out. If I was one of the sisters who hasn’t gone bankrupt I certainly wouldn’t give them money. The LW should figure out how to live on her income as quickly as possible, not try to figure out how to get mom to support her for the rest of her life.

  7. A lot of people don’t have their mothers (or fathers) with them, and would give anything to see them one last time. Meanwhile, people like the LW and her sisters, have their mother with them, starting a long and difficult illness, and their only concern is what to do with HER money and how to not waste it yet. People amaze me every day.

  8. ArtsyGirl says:

    LW – while I understand why you would like to have your mother move in with you (you get a house and she gets a caregiver) have you honestly thought throw the ramifications? Alzheimer’s is devastating and since you already have a son with a severe form of autism, do you really think you can take care of two individuals who will not be able to care for even their basic needs? This is even more so since you and your husband both work.

    1. ArtsyGirl says:

      Oops, someone said the same thing above

  9. This reminds me of something that happened to the family of a friend of mine. The poor man was bedridden, and his family went through his house – with him lying there – and used post-it notes to mark the stuff they wanted. (The house was furnished with antiques.) Well, his mind worked just fine. He called his lawyer and redid his will, leaving everything – his money, his house and the antiques – to his church. The family got nothing. Dying brings out the worst in some people.

    1. Hahahaha. That’s awesome.

      1. At least vultures have the common decency to wait until their prey is actually dead before they start picking at it.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Vultures will kill wounded and sick animals too. If it can’t fight back, they don’t wait till it’s dead.

    2. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Ew. How could they? That is so awful.

    3. Kate B, along those same lines…My grandfather was one of 8 siblings; their mother was widowed and required a lot of care in her final years. Everyone pitched in and helped out, except for 2 siblings.
      When the eldest sister died childless, she left her considerable assets divided among her remaining living siblings. Except for the two slackers, who were left exactly $1 each.
      My great aunt was not a woman to be messed with.

      1. I have another story. I had a boyfriend whose family had a seasonal home in New Hampshire. His father was a university professor, and had summers off, so they spent them in this house. The house once belonged to a woman BF called “Aunt Helen” even though he was sure she was not a biological relative. Helen’s father had built the house around the turn of the century (meaning early 1900s). Helen’s two sisters got married, had families and moved away, basically not having anything to do with Helen after that. After her father died, Helen lived alone in that house for many years. BF’s father, as a young boy, befriended Helen. He did things for her: ran errands, bought groceries, fixed things around the house and, more important, spent time with her. He would just come by and talk with her. Eventually, Helen died, and the two sisters came sniffing after the only significant asset she had: the house. Well, Helen had left the house, and the land it sat on, to BF’s dad.

    4. simonthegrey says:

      As a joke, we did this at my dad’s house for his 50th birthday. We put post its with our names on various weird things (like his WORK laptop, his car keys – just the keys, not for the car – a “lucky rock”, his old reading glasses, etc. He thought it was funny.

      Doing it for real is gross.

  10. Long time lurker here (Hi Wendy!). My mother is also the youngest of four–the age gap between her and her oldest sister was 12 years. Growing up, my mother watched as her siblings fought over my grandparent’s money. The siblings, like the LW and her siblings, were financially dependent on their parents’ money. The fighting got so bad that my aunt and my uncle (the oldest aunt died of brain cancer) moved to different countries and did not talk to each other for TWENTY YEARS. My mother kept in touch with both of them but my aunt and uncle did not speak to each other directly. It wasn’t until three years ago that the three living siblings were all together under one roof and speaking to one another for my grandma’s 86th birthday. My uncle died from a heart attack two years ago and my aunt is so happy that they made amends before his passing. I can’t imagine what kind of guilt she would have had if they were still not on speaking terms.

    LW, there’s nothing you can do about the past–the damage is already done. All you can focus on is fixing the present and creating the future that you want with your family.

  11. Yes, it is absolutely possible to live an upper-middle class lifestyle on a mere teacher’s salary (personal experience talking here). With two sons with medical issues, I can also see how this might have caused some heretofore unforeseen expenses that would have drained one’s bank account. Not necessarily bad planning – just bad stuff goes down.

    That said, LW, have you considered financial planning? Like, making and keeping regular appointments with a financial planner/advisor? My husband and I have appointments every three to four months, and it’s been a good financial move for us if for no other reason than making sure we’re on track for a good retirement. If you can manage not to rely on your mom’s money, even better. Temporary assistance is one thing, but I know you don’t want to have to permanently rely on her financially. so what can YOU do, as an adult, to make sure that doesn’t happen?

    1. I also wonder how many kids LW even has. “another son” has bipolar, not “my other son”. When will people quit having more kids than they can comfortably afford??? It’s not like it’s a secret that raising kids is expensive. Let alone having kids with health issues.

      1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        I was thinking the exact same thing.

      2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        You don’t tend to know that your child is bipolar until the late teens or early twenties so wouldn’t start out knowing they had serious health issues.

      3. But LW says she has been struggling for years. Even if her kids didn’t have issues I would question the wisdom of having multiple kids.
        And autism IS generally diagnosed early on, esp if it’s so severe he can’t function as an independent adult.

      4. RedRoverRedRover says:

        That could’ve been the last kid though. Also, there are people who have a second kid so that the first one has someone else in their life after the parents die. I don’t know how I feel about that one, but I can see why people do it. Otherwise you leave your autistic child all alone when you die.

      5. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I can understand a parent having a child just to make sure that their handicapped child had someone to look out for them but at the same time it seems wrong to have a child who is born with the job of being their older siblings caretaker. I hope that the second and third child and any more there might be were wanted just because they were wanted and not because they were looking to spread out the burden of caring for an autistic sibling.

      6. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I agree with you, that’s why I don’t know how to feel about it. I can see both sides of it. It’s better for the autistic kid, but not great for the non-autistic kid. I’m sure they’re wanted though, at least. I can’t imagine someone purposely having an unwanted baby when they already have an autistic child at home, that’s crazy. Imagine how hard that would be.

      7. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        Yes, obviously they have been having financial problems for years but we don’t know if they were having them when their kids were born. If they were struggling but still having kids that is definitely on them and no reason why their family should have to bail them out. Austism is generally diagnosed during the preschool years, especially if it is severe. They may have had an oops baby or chose to have an extra child just so there wouldn’t be one child burdened with caring for the autistic child.

      8. 24 years ago LW had her student loans and downpayment paid for by mommy. That tells me she already needed help. And that is a fair amount of years to be needing financial help, even wth the bankruptcy in the middle. I would love to know the ages of LW and her kids.

      9. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        I don’t begrudge anyone getting help from parents, especially when it comes to education. My parents paid for all of my college and I graduated from undergrad debt-free and am very grateful for that. And if Drew and I were offered help with a downpayment for our own home, we would gladly accept that in this crazy-ass NYC housing market (and almost everyone our age I know here who owns real estate here got help from their parents; it’s just how it’s done here. Most 30-40-somethings can’t afford the the average cost of a 600-800k [or more!] family home without a little help). But I do think it’s shitty to take all that help and just keep expecting more and more and more and more. That’s where the sense of entitlement comes in.

      10. That makes sense. I do get a different feel from LW though.
        Also the fact that the mother gave the other sisters the money, but paid stuff off for LW just speaks volumes to me.

        Maybe it’s just because education is free here and husband and I worked our butts off for everything we own 😛

      11. Good point. Maybe Mom doesn’t think the LW can handle the money herself, and that’s why she directly paid the loans. Since the LW has already declared bankruptcy, signs point to the mom being correct.

      12. And, speaking as someone who Works with people with disabilities and their caregivers. Saddling another child with care for their sibling is an unbelievably shitty thing to do.

      13. snoopy128 says:

        Only recently (very recently) has autism been diagnosed early on. I’ve seen many kids even today with late-diagnosis. Just because we are getting better at recognizing the signs, it doesn’t mean we catch all of the children early.

      14. If the kid is never going to be able to live independently I imagine this diagnosis was caught pretty early as he must have moderate to severe impairments.

  12. WWS. This is exactly why my husband and I have already discussed not leaving anything for our future child. LW you have such entitlement issues not only about yourself and what you think you deserve but also about your sisters. The sad thing is you and your sisters clearly haven’t learned to be financially responsible. What are your children learning from this? Sure, your autistic son will need more care as an adult, but you’re showing your other son that you feel entitled to your mother’s money. What are you gonna do when your kids will want to be bailed out as adults?

  13. You and your sisters should have a discussion about what will happen when your mother’s alzheimer’s worsens. She might need a legal guardian at some point and it’s likely to be a very conflict-ridden situation if one of you gets to make choices in your mother’s name. So you better start talking about this now.
    Family conflicts about money are often very difficult to handle. It’s easy for some of the siblings to feel short-changed. You might need some sort of mediator to handle this. Try to think about possible compromises with your sisters. And yes, the caretaking is a hugely important part of the discussion as well. You will need to agree on how to handle this, whether she will get care from a commercial provider or from one of you.
    Bottom line, this is not a situation where you run away from your family conflicts. It’s a situation where you really have to start addressing them.

    1. As an addendum, I’m actually not sure if the mother can still take responsibility of her actions if she has Alzheimer’s. Maybe the sisters are partially worried that their mother isn’t really aware of her choices anymore. That’s why everyone should be involved in this conversation. Probably including lawyers and mediators.

      1. ArtsyGirl says:

        Good point SasLinna – when my paternal grandmother got dementia, she had good days and bad days even in the early stages. She once misplaced her bedroom pillow and went looking in her purse for it.

      2. Yes! Also, the LW should make sure her mom has a valid will that was written and signed before she became ill. It wouldn’t hurt to make sure the sisters are all aware of it too. My grandpa was a little lackadaisical with his will (he was a lawyer, he should have known better) and it turned out his last valid will was from before he had grandchildren.

  14. LW, I think you need to talk to someone about the care your mother is going to need as her Alzheimer’s progresses. And how much that care is going to cost. You and your siblings need to stop spending her money NOW, because she’s going to be needing all of it. And possibly some of yours as well.

    Now’s as good a time as any for all of you to learn to stand on your own two feet. Because assuming there’s any money at all left after your mother passes away, what happens after you and your sisters run through all of that? Who will you get money from then?

    1. THIS. You and your mom need to be discussing her prognosis and her options with both her doctor and her lawyer. Who is going to have her power of attorney when her dementia has advanced and she can no longer make decisions for herself? Who is going to pay for her care when she can’t care for herself? You may be able to care for her for a while while she is still mostly herself, but you are delusional if you think you can give full time care to an advanced dementia patient on top of two special needs kids. Educate yourself on what to expect from a dementia patient – it’s like having an adult-sized toddler whom you have to have a knock-down drag-out with to get them to take a shower, and whose diapers you have to change. Can you lift your mom up and down? Are you strong enough to handle it if she fights you? Are you mentally prepared for the verbal abuse she will give you? Because that’s what life with a dementia patient is like, and even the most determined caregiver – with no other responsibilities like job or special needs kids – may not be able to handle it in the end. And nursing care is expensive. A nursing home can run you $6000 a month if you don’t have Medicare or elder care insurance (that’s where a lawyer can advise you). And in-home assistance isn’t much less. You and your mom need to be making these decisions NOW before she is unable to. Maybe instead of spending $$ on a new house she needs to save that $$ for elder care. Again, you need to be seeking out resources and making hard decisions now, harder ones than just this house thing.

      1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        All of this.

  15. Avatar photo Crochet.Ninja says:

    a person should NEVER count on an inheritance. not only is it ‘entitlement’, it’s also super tacky and sad. maybe you should work on getting your shit together and taking care of your mother, not what you’re going to get out of it in the end.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      It’s also never guaranteed. My grandmother scrimped and saved her whole life to give her five kids a good inheritance. Well, she died first and my grandfather is awful with money. He still makes a good income due to his amazing pension, but he spends all that and more, every month. He’s easily gone through a million dollars in the past decade, even though his house is paid for. And that’s a million dollars on top of his pension cheques, which are already more than most people make when they’re actually working. And he’s not even sick yet. If he ends up needing to go into a home, that’s going to be a big expense that he currently doesn’t have. So yeah, I don’t think his kids are going to see any inheritance at all.

    2. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

      Im a little late to the game here, but I totally agree with you, Crochet.Ninja.

  16. My two cents : my my mom died 13 years ago without a will but had lent each of my 4 sisters and myself money that we were expected to pay back. When she passed my dad forgave the loans and we all struggled mostly with the division of her jewelry, but over time we’ve traded around her pieces.
    My dad wanted to distribute his money to us while he lived (so the government wouldn’t get it) so over a couple years we got a couple frand in times of struggle (a sudden move, a kid’s tuition hike). Nothing that fixed our financial landscape but just eased it.
    Fast forward to last summer when our dad died suddenly. Also without a will. He didn’t have much of an estate but all of us know he would have chosen me as the executor. So my sisters all signed the necessary paperwork and I distributed everything evenly. No fighting no expectation. We didn’t come from big means and we’ve all all had our financial issues (no bankruptcy but none of us have been great with money, bad example set by our dad that we followed, mostly just credit card debt). Still none of us lives outside our means and we NEVER FOUGHT about the money. Instead, we mourned our parent’s passing. I think all of us would trade any pittance we got for one more day with each of them.
    I hate you LW, because you get that time I can’t buy back.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      Hating her seems a little extreme.

      1. Hate is a strong emotion, and the truth is I’m angry. I used the word hate to express that.

    2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      You and your sisters did it right. And I’m sorry you lost both parents too soon.

  17. ArtsyGirl says:

    Posted quickly earlier, but am on lunch now so can write a longer response.

    LW – on numerous occasions in your letter you indicate that you have a greater need for your mother’s money then your three sisters (your children are younger, your children have expensive medical issues, you and your husband make less money, etc). You seem to think that you deserve more money because your life is harder, but that is not the way the world works. While you are quick to point out that your sisters have gotten financial assistance (the inheritance from your father, living in you familial home rent free, etc) you seem to bury the lead in the fact that you also have had what I can only assume is substantial assistance from your mother as well. Not only did you get out of college debt free, you got a down-payment for a house, and she has handed you money when you need it. Seriously stop counting each nickle and dime and holding it up to see how it stacks up against your sisters. As Louis C.K. said, “The only time you should look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.”

    If I were you, you should just assume you will not get a cent after your mother’s death and instead get your financial house in order by yourself. Then if you do get an inheritance (who knows how long down the road that might be), it will be a nice nest egg, not something expected or demanded.

    1. Oh, but she does feel it’s her mother’s money!!!! And she can do what she wants with it! I’d love to hear the tune if it was another sister getting all the bail outs.

  18. Oh boy. WWS. Me and Bassanio live as if there is no inheritance on either side. Because even though our parents have saved and will likely leave with some left over, we want them to live well. If they used every cent, we’d be so happy. Because it’s their money, they’ve worked hard for it, they should enjoy it. Why should I be entitled to any of it? They’ve already helped us so much.
    LW, you can’t control your sisters, but please stop acting like your mom should help you out. If you want to buy a house and have room/suite for her, do that out of the goodness of your heart and without her money. Recognize that you are contributing to this environment, it’s not just your sisters making empty accusations.

  19. LW you really need to get your finances in order before your mom passes and start living within your means. I doubt a larger house with an in-law unit is something you can afford in the long run– even if mom helps with the down payment and with mortgage when she’s alive, you are going to be saddled with those higher mortgage payments, higher taxes, higher insurance long after she passes.
    You say yourself that your son will never be able to be completely independent. He’s probably going to outlive you. Are you saving to be able to pay for his care after you can no longer care for him yourself? Are you setting yourself and your children up for a good financial future? You really need to think about the long term finances without your mother’s help.

    1. Also realized the LW rents a house now, doesn’t even own. I know that home ownership is technically the better deal in the long run because you come out with an asset, but it is NOT CHEAPER to buy a house than rent. This is a huge trap people fall into where they consider renting equivalent to burning money. It is true that when you rent you are furthering your landlord’s equity instead of your own but that alone is not a good reason to take on owning a house. You take on taxes, insurance, routine maintenance, fixing everything that breaks (and let me tell you, things break ALL the time and they cost thousands to fix), and having to sell it one day. If you are struggling to afford a rental house, you will struggle to own a house too. And the consequences when you struggle to pay your mortgage are more severe than missing rent.

      1. I’m pretty sure LW expects mom to pay for the house (“mutually beneficial”). This letter and her attitude have just pissed me off soooo much.

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Tell us how you really feel, though. 😉

      3. I think yes. Except that if mom puts down payment and pays mortgage, that still will only last until she dies. Unless the mom is able to buy the house outright…
        The point is that after mom dies, the LW needs to be really sure what she’s getting stuck with. And it doesn’t sound like she is.

  20. I haven’t read through all the comments, so someone may have made this point: LW and her money-grubbing siblings need to realize that care for someone with Alzheimer’s is expensive. When my grandmother was no longer able to stay at home with my grandfather, our family moved her into a memory-care unit to the tune of $70,000/year. She was there for 4 years, so do the math. (And this was 10+ years ago…I’m sure costs have gone up). Luckily my grandparents were in a very sound financial position, but not everyone is that fortunate. LW’s mother’s remaining assets could be liquidated very, very quickly if she starts requiring a lot of in-home care, or if she eventually has to move from her home. Alzheimer’s patients can live for many years with the disease, especially if they are relatively healthy otherwise. I wouldn’t be counting on a huge inheritance, if I were this family.

  21. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    LW, I fear that a lot of comments have veered into the mean-spirited end of things. On that note, I do think that you and your sisters are nickel-and-diming stuff that should not be nickel-and-dimed. Bottom line, you need to “keep your side of the street clean,” be it as is may. Here, I think that might mean getting your mother a solo appointment with a financial planner and/or estate attorney, an elderly social worker (through her doctor or a hospital or whatever), and you need to inform all of your sisters that this is occurring. (This is dependent on how lucid or competent your mother is. You say she is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and lives alone, so I am assuming she is still functional and capable of doing these things and with a clear and logical mind.)
    You and your sisters are seemingly “forest for the trees-ing” the situation here. You are all assuming that your mother is going to do an equal split of her estate amongst the 4 of you. This is presumptuous and also makes you sound, in the letter, very money-grubbing, for lack of a better term. If your mother has a will, those terms are HERS to decide on. (I recommend you tell her that a will is the surest way for her estate to be distributed per her wishes if she does not have a will right now. THis is NOT legal advice.) Your mother may decide to donate everything she has to the Human Society or any other charity. She may decide to leave you the lion’s share. She may decide that you all get a certain percentage, or certain amounts. She may have little left to be disbursed because her late life care is expensive, as some have mentioned above.
    Anyway, Im running too long here, but I just wanted to say that LW, you are responsible for your own decisions. I know it is easier to point out that your sisters each married successful men and had their own careers while you are a teacher and married an immigrant in the auto industry, than to see that you CHOSE those life decisions. While TV and movies portray otherwise, everyone doesnt automatically get an awesome and fulfilling job with plenty of vacation and unlimited healthcare and a fabulous spouse who makes tons of money and is gorgeous and is a spectacular person. Measuring your life against that of your sisters is only going to make you resent them, when you need to be shining on yourself and how to make you and yours happy.
    Good luck, LW. You have a lot on your plate.

  22. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    Ugh. What Wendy and some others above have said.

  23. dinoceros says:

    I found this letter really sad. Your mom has a scary and sad disease. Please learn how to think about someone other than yourself. It’s time to stop worrying about who got what from your mom and to focus on her health and well-being. Please don’t take any more of her money. She’s going to need it for her medical care.

    Also, it sounds like you have a wealthy family. But FYI, this stuff isn’t normal. Most people don’t get that much financial help from their parents (many don’t get any at all). Most people don’t go bankrupt. Many people don’t get an inheritance. So all this stuff you think you deserve is a luxury.

  24. Sue Jones says:

    I live in a city full of trustfunders. It is obnoxious how so many people I know just were EXPECTING to be bought new vehicles and homes, etc. by their parents. I wasn’t raised that way. I was raised more middle class though my parents did pay for college. My husband comes from more money than I do yet I earn more. This has sparked many colorful arguments between us over the years. We work with a financial planner to get us on the same page so things are better and even then… Both he and his brother regularly get money from his mother for things like private school for brother’s kids, orthodontic for our kid… even after I had the money saved in an HSA. It is just a different way of living and a different background that still, after 20 years I have trouble getting used to. I am trying to have my son become money literate. I would love to hear more ideas on how to explain to an 11 year old boy why saving money is important (“but why should I bother to save my money if I am not allowed to spend it on what I want?” etc. Explaining to him that some day he may want to go on a Europe trip with his school, or go to an expensive summer program or other such thing does not cut it with this kid… yet.) Would love ideas on teaching financial responsibility to kids – he gets an allowance. He has a savings account (that he sort of resents – he would rather have the money in a tin can so that he could spend it whenever he wants…) and we have explained to him about his college 529 plan that we have for him…

    1. Let him invest in the stock market! I did that when I was just a little older than him. It is fun to see the money go up and down daily rather than seeing the slowly moving interest of a bank account. He can pick a mutual fund or a stock of a company or companies he likes. You can also get him into stock market games on the computer: http://www.marketwatch.com/game/ is one I just found from googling. When I was a kid I used to play this online game called neopets, and they had a fake stock market (see that I learned a lot from.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I love this! My daughter has money she receives from her grandmother and never spends. Money doesn’t burn a hole in her pocket. Investing it in the stock market would let it grow where the bank does next to nothing now.

    2. Kids and money is so complicated!!! My 7 year old has very decent savings for her age (birthday money, tooth fairy money), but it is so hard to get her to understand that if she blows money on something dumb now she won’t be able to buy something really cool later on. One day she’ll seem to “get it” then the next she wants to buy a sticker album because allll her Friends have it mum!!! so unfaaaaairrrrrr

    3. When I was a kid my parents gave us an allowance that was divided up between: spending money, short term savings, long term savings, and charity. Birthday/holiday present money got divided the same way. The spending money we were allowed to spend on whatever we wanted without our parents approval (not like we could go wild… just like they wouldn’t say “are you sure you need that sticker book,” it was ours to spend). Then the short term savings we had like twice a year we could pull that out and buy something bigger. And the long term savings we could only spend rarely on big things or if we saved up for something in particular (like when I wanted that pet snake).
      Every year we would pull the charity out at the holidays and my parents would help us decide where to donate.

      Overall I think it was a great system, because the truth is, yeah, you want to spend some of it right now– especially when you’re 11. So its good to allow some unrestricted spending money and some saving money. Otherwise, when they finally make money they go wild and spend it all and don’t have that concept of treating yourself a little bit and putting the rest away.

  25. Another anecdote about Entitled Adult Children Syndrome: A friend told me a story about an elderly woman she knew who was ready to sell the large family home and move into a smaller, easier to manage unit. She found a place she loved but her adult son refused to “let” her buy it because he wasn’t happy with the prospects for the re-sale value after her death… and actually said that to her.

  26. Seriously? Seriously! says:

    Agree with the sentiment of what Wendi said, but I would just advise the LW to talk to that lawyer about the implications on inheritances of in-vivo (during life) gifts, especially near the end of life. The siblings might be right; she may actually be reducing her inheritances.

    I never took trusts and estates, but I remember from studying for the bar something about T-Subs and the effect of in-vivo gifts on per stirpes inheritances. But that might just affect Elective Share (the amount of money that is guaranteed to the spouse), so someone else who knows more about this should pipe in. And it sounds like the Mother probably has a will, but still, it might actually affect things. Though in this family, it sounds like there have been enough gifts all around to neutralize things. But Wendi, you might want to add a friendly “but talk to your lawyer”, because the siblings aren’t COMPLETELY off base.

  27. Anonymous says:

    yes they probably all live beyond their means, however, an autistic child is a huge drain on family finances. I know. Even if the state pays for therapy (not all do) there’s a lot more to taking care of the child than that and it all costs plenty.

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