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“My In-Laws Come Into Our Home Unannounced All the Time”

Home Forums Advice & Chat “My In-Laws Come Into Our Home Unannounced All the Time”

  • This topic has 5 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 2 weeks, 1 day ago by Anonymousse.
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  • #1110571 Reply
    Dear Wendy

    From a LW:

    “I need some guidance from someone unattached to this situation. About 4 years ago my FIL passed away unexpectedly. My MIL had no money when he passed away. For about a year my husband and I kept up our home we lived in and helped her pay her bills. It was overwhelming. We finally sat her down and told her we could not manage two house payments and all the other expenses associated with two homes. Our daughter was starting college in the fall and we had to do something. We gave her some options to sell and buy a smaller place, we would sell our home and purchase the family home or we could sell both and build somewhere with enough land to build her a small home on the property so we could continue to take care of her. About 8 months after this proposal she decided to sell us the family home and we sold our home to purchase it. Keep in mind my husband has two sisters who live 2 to 5 minutes from the family home. They did not help out when their dad passed with anything. Recently my MIL was diagnosed with Dementia and possibly Alzehimers. Now all of a sudden the daughters are coming to visit. I don’t mind them coming but this is the issue I need help with.

    They come into our home unannounced. They don’t knock or anything. I feel like my home is not my home. Just today I witnessed one of the daughters using her mother in laws code to unlock the electronic front door lock. I was furious. I talked with my husband and he is mad too. I just don’t know how to handle this situation. I am a private person and do not like unannounced company much less someone just walking into my home or having my codes to unlock the doors. I’m not sure how to properly address it. I told my husband I’m gonna start walking around necked all the time. I will add that I feel like they are mad that we purchased the home that they grew up in but they had the same opportunity that we did and they did nothing to help their mom. We have had some words in the past about items at our home that they feel they should have since their father passed but he left specific details as to who received what. I feel like since we purchased the home we now have ownership of the contents left in it too. To me it is no different than the home I sold to purchase this one. I had to remove everything I wanted to take with me or keep and once the mortgage was signed it all transferred to us. I am just to the point of selling this house and telling my MIL she has to purchase a place to live. It just keeps getting worse.”

    #1110576 Reply

    Well first and foremost, change the code on the locks. Your husband can lay down the law. Walking around naked is a decent option.

    But you are going to need to make some hard decisions in the near future about your MILs care and your husband needs to sit his sister’s down to determine what the three of them are going to do:

    1. Hire care – dementia requires 24 hour care. Are you OK with having aides in the house all the time?
    2. Find a facility – again, dementia requires 24 hour care.
    3. Have the MIL move in with one of the sisters.

    Things that are NOT an option:
    1. Assuming you’ll take over your MILs care.
    2. You and your husband fully funding your MIL’s care

    That’s the conversation you need to have. Things are going to get a WHOLE lot worse and I’m really sorry that you’re going through this. There are a lot of services and support groups for families dealing with this.

    #1110580 Reply
    Part-time Lurker

    Have you ever said anything directly to either of the sisters? If not, try just asking them to knock when they come over. It can be hard for someone to break a life long habit especially if no one has explicitly said “Hey, now that we own the house would you mind knocking?”

    One thing in your letter really stuck out to me, you wrote, “I feel like since we purchased the home we now have ownership of the contents left in it too.” Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Unless your mother-in-law agreed to sell you those items as part of the deal or they were left to you by the father-in-law then they still belong to your mother-in-law. Legally, ethically, and morally. I get that you had to leave a lot of your possessions behind due to the lack of space, but you need to work on having a conversation with your husband and mother-in-law about finding a way to bring more of your things into the home to blend your tastes rather than simply appropriating her possessions as your own. Let me repeat that, you don’t get to just claim your MIL’s things as your own. She has dementia and as her caregiver you have an obligation to protect her and her possessions from other’s, as a well as, from yourself. LisforLeslie is correct that you and your husband should sit down with his sisters and have a serious discussion about elder care, boundaries, and how you can all work together going forward.

    #1110582 Reply

    Agree with Part-time Lurker, that part really stood out to me too. You absolutely do not own your MIL’s possessions. If any of the contents of a house are included in a sale, that gets expressly stated in the legal documents. If that wasn’t specified, then your MIL’s things did NOT automatically get “transferred” to you when you signed the mortgage (!). If your MIL had moved out when you bought her house, she would have taken her possessions with her, no? Since she’s still living there, it’s natural that she kept her possessions there as well.

    #1110584 Reply

    You had me LW, up until the possession talk. You (well your husband actually) needs to get the impromptu visits under control. And I think you should change the locks / codes / etc. However, I don’t understand your stance, at all, on your MIL’s possessions, unless you also paid for all of them when you bought the house? I’d be upset too if there were a few items I thought I might get and then a “hard no.”

    FWIW, my uncle bought my grandparents house, the one he and my dad and the family grew up in, when my grandpa moved to assisted living. The entire family talked to one another and split up the possessions in a mostly equitable manner.

    #1110588 Reply

    I agree that you need privacy, but I also agree with those that have said you cannot just absorb her possessions and claim them as yours. That doesn’t seem right or fair. Your husband and his siblings need to sit down and have a frank discussion about her care.

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