Moving brother out of Mom's house

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sandyloam
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Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by sandyloam » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:59 pm

Mom is almost age 90 and needs to update her will and living trust. I will be executor and successor trustee.
There are five of us children, including my brother who lives with Mom. He is 57, no assets or income except food stamps and a pending possible disability claim. He is financially naive and needs a lot of help with decisions.

Upon Mom's passing, the consensus is that we should sell her house and divide the proceeds. After dividing her investments as well, it's possible that my brother could have (barely) enough to live on his own. I am worried about his ability to manage the transition, and manage his own money.

I would like to hear from anyone who has faced a similar situation. How do you make plans for someone who can't/won't make their own? Is a 'Special Needs Trust' appropriate here even though there may never be any disability payments? We will eventually use an attorney, but I am really asking here for personal experiences.

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tom0153
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by tom0153 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:29 am

Your posting is a difficult one to address well; four siblings seem to be deciding what is best for the fifth, and then you are making suggestions to your mother on how to draw up her will. How much can your brother take part in trying to follow along with the decision making?

To the extent that your brother is "permanently and totally disabled" according to state law, he may qualify for medicaid and the food stamps, plus perhaps SSI and or SSA.

However, if he inherits outright, this might interfere with these claims, until his inheritance is gone. So, things do indeed point to a special needs trust, if that seems to be the way to go with a claim for benefits, and protection of these funds for his special needs.

In addition to a lawyer, you will also want to see if there is a social services agency that can seek in guiding your brother (perhaps he will require housing, and in order to find a place that is affordable while using his benefits, they can be of help in planning). Again, the special needs trust will ensure that his benefits go as far as possible, while the trust is able to provide for that which is covered by your state's laws on the topic.
Best, Tom

MattE
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by MattE » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:45 am

You do the best that you can and try to forget it's a problem when it's not immediately an issue, to be honest. My mother is 46, a paranoid schizophrenic, and even prior to mental illness setting in had been one of the least reliable people and worst decision makers I've ever met in my life. She's completely unemployable at this point, and in her attempts to work over the past 8 years or so hasn't held anything down for more than a few weeks. She's dependent on the generosity of my wife and I and several of my aunts\uncles for basic needs, and we've had to go to great lengths to ensure food\shelter\clothing being provided for her outside of her direct control, because experience has shown that simply providing financial assistance and leaving the rest up to her is just throwing cash into a pit with her ending up in untenable situations.

How seriously do you doubt your brother's ability to not end up homeless and destitute once he no longer has his basic needs immediately provided for? How greatly would each sibling's share of the proceeds from your mother's house impact their lives? Could your other siblings with the reality of your brother not being able to provide for himself? Ensuring my mother has always had housing was an on-going issue for several years as she often found herself being evicted from rentals, and the eventual course of action taken by the extended family and I was to pool our resources and buy a cheap-but-livable home in my name in cash and install her in it as her permanent residence. It was a non-negligible upfront cost, but the peace of mind has been worth it thus far. I would give serious consideration to trying to arrange for possession of the house to be retained by yourself and\or the other siblings and permitting your brother to live there so that at least that situation is assured.

expat
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by expat » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:46 am

Is your brother taking care of your mother? If that it is the case, I would hope, in her estate plan, that she would leave a disproportionately larger share of the estate to him as compensation.

walker46
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by walker46 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:57 am

We have an adult son with high functioning autism (what until recently was called Asperger’s) who is in his thirties who so far has not been employable in any meaningful way even though he is highly intelligent. He is currently on disability but we are still hopeful that someday he will find a niche where he can support himself fully. In the meantime our wills are written so that any inheritance will fund a special needs trust for him. We did this mainly so that he wouldn't lose his disability and Medicaid.

I’d advise talking to an attorney right away. Make sure it is one that specializes in trusts and disabilities. Your run of the mill attorney may not understand the best way to do this. If your brother were to inherit outright rather than through a trust he’d be out of luck as far as either getting or continuing on disability, Medicaid, etc.

I’d also hope that your brother’s share of the inheritance reflects that he has been helping with your mother’s care if that is the case, or maybe it should be greater just because he is more needy.

donall
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by donall » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:17 am

It's good that you are looking ahead for your brother.

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:27 am

I'll tell you what my grandparents did with their family - they also had 5 kids, 4 of them were married, out of the home and had kids. The fifth child lived with the parents all of the time, took care of the parents, ran errands for them, provided company but was not financially well-off even though the fifth child had been gainfully employed and had just recently retired. My grandparents created a life estate - willing the use of the home until death to the fifth child, after which the home would be sold and the proceeds divided amongst the remaining children and the offspring of any deceased children. The 4 children were made aware of the decision and no one disagreed with it. Frankly, I think that was the best decision - for my grandparents to make the call, and not those who had a financial interest because when money is involved "funny behaviors" come out of the woodwork. I'm not telling you or even advising you what to do - but place yourself in your brothers position, then think if you'd be so quick to sell the home, divvy up the proceeds and let yourself fend for yourself. Also, your 4 other siblings do not currently hold title to the home, so what they think or feel is irrelevant. If your mother is inclined and has her mental faculties about her, then structuring a trust to have the 5th child remain in the home sounds like a good solution. If you have the financial ability to pay the taxes on the home collectively, your mother could theoretically structure her will and trust (leave the home in trust) to have your brother remain in the home until such time he no longer needs it because of death or incapacitating disability where the state will take him and leave the home to the remaining children. Of course, I would run this by an attorney and quite possibly an elder attorney because doing something like this may run afoul of food stamp and welfare rules - the home cannot be in the brothers name and he can not hold legal title or even have a financial interest in it because he'll run afoul of the assets rule.
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stan1
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by stan1 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:58 am

It's not clear whether the brother is a "free spirit" who always manages to get by (right now by living with mom) and the rest of the family views him as irresponsible/unstable because he's taken a different road in life, or if he really does have a mental/physical disability that makes it difficult for him to keep a job/live alone. It isn't always easy to watch those "free spirits" bounce around, but a number of them are happy and a "special needs trust" would be offensive. There are plenty of 50-something laid off in the last 5 years who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, spent down assets, are generally unemployable due to obsolete skills, and are now faced with disability (right or wrong) as their only option for sustenance. If he really does need help (and has medical diagnosis to support) a special needs trust seems like a good idea, and 1/5th of the house might not be enough.

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by ddunca1944 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:29 am

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:I'll tell you what my grandparents did with their family - they also had 5 kids, 4 of them were married, out of the home and had kids. The fifth child lived with the parents all of the time, took care of the parents, ran errands for them, provided company but was not financially well-off even though the fifth child had been gainfully employed and had just recently retired. My grandparents created a life estate - willing the use of the home until death to the fifth child, after which the home would be sold and the proceeds divided amongst the remaining children and the offspring of any deceased children. The 4 children were made aware of the decision and no one disagreed with it. Frankly, I think that was the best decision - for my grandparents to make the call, and not those who had a financial interest because when money is involved "funny behaviors" come out of the woodwork. I'm not telling you or even advising you what to do - but place yourself in your brothers position, then think if you'd be so quick to sell the home, divvy up the proceeds and let yourself fend for yourself. Also, your 4 other siblings do not currently hold title to the home, so what they think or feel is irrelevant. If your mother is inclined and has her mental faculties about her, then structuring a trust to have the 5th child remain in the home sounds like a good solution. If you have the financial ability to pay the taxes on the home collectively, your mother could theoretically structure her will and trust (leave the home in trust) to have your brother remain in the home until such time he no longer needs it because of death or incapacitating disability where the state will take him and leave the home to the remaining children. Of course, I would run this by an attorney and quite possibly an elder attorney because doing something like this may run afoul of food stamp and welfare rules - the home cannot be in the brothers name and he can not hold legal title or even have a financial interest in it because he'll run afoul of the assets rule.
+1
This really sounds like the best solution to the OP's situation

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by Quickfoot » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:47 am

My wife's brother is 37, has never lived outside the home and has chosen not to be employed for most of the last 20 years. My wife's mother has some assets to leave him upon her death but both my wife and her mother are concerned he would immediately blow anything left to him. We also are having to decide where he would live, no one in her family wants to take him in because he is capable of working, is very intelligent, but simply has chosen not to be successful. The decision was to have my wife be in control of the assets and use them to provide for him.

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dm200
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by dm200 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:55 pm

sandyloam wrote:Mom is almost age 90 and needs to update her will and living trust. I will be executor and successor trustee.
There are five of us children, including my brother who lives with Mom. He is 57, no assets or income except food stamps and a pending possible disability claim. He is financially naive and needs a lot of help with decisions.

Upon Mom's passing, the consensus is that we should sell her house and divide the proceeds. After dividing her investments as well, it's possible that my brother could have (barely) enough to live on his own. I am worried about his ability to manage the transition, and manage his own money.

I would like to hear from anyone who has faced a similar situation. How do you make plans for someone who can't/won't make their own? Is a 'Special Needs Trust' appropriate here even though there may never be any disability payments? We will eventually use an attorney, but I am really asking here for personal experiences.
I suspect there are (nor will there be) any completely "right" answer/solution to your situation. I do think, though, that you are wise to think about this now, instead of later, when it could be a much bigger problem for him and one (or more) of the siblings. Good Luck!

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by Professor Emeritus » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:53 pm

Life estates are in general a bad idea. People end up with too much house and not enough money. They cant afford to repair the house. Much better to sell the house and put the money in trust and pay the income for life to the person you desire to have it. Much cleaner .

MN Finance
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by MN Finance » Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:17 pm

As mentioned, the scenarios are totally different if your brother is a "free spirit" (as someone said) or if he's disabled and receiving assistance. In the free spirit category, mom can set up a trust to avoid spend thrift concerns and the structure can be somewhat open, but still limit access for his sake. In the assistance category, the trust absolutely needs to be done correctly otherwise he would make himself ineligible for assistance. And even then the state or county will likely fight the assistance if/when they find out there's money in trust for his benefit.

You can't ignore this and needs to be addressed with an attorney immediately - like today. Depending on your brothers condition, one option will be to immediately place the house in trust so that mom doesn't spend it all if she needs Medicaid assistance and leave your brother destitute. If you wait too long Medicaid will look back and the asset will eventually be gone. If brother is a free spirit and just irresponsible, then I guess that's a difference scenario.

sandyloam
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by sandyloam » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:32 am

I really appreciate all your ideas and suggestions. The consensus seems to be that 1/5 of Mom's estate may not be enough for his needs. I suppose that's the elephant in the room.
He's definite not a 'free spirit', really the opposite; afraid of adulthood. No danger of binges or substance abuse, but we're afraid he may just sign over his assets to someone persuasive.
Again, this has given me a much needed perspective. Thank You!

gerrym51
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by gerrym51 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:34 am

are one of you going to take him in. If not i suggest you give him the house plus a fifth of the estate thats left. i also think your consulting the wrong people. It's your siblings you should be consulting.

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patriciamgr2
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by patriciamgr2 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:04 pm

There are legal protections that can be implemented to help your brother. Your mother's estate lawyer could arrange for his inheritance to go into a "spendthrift" trust, administered by two of the siblings, to protect the $ from his creditors and from himself. There are always costs & complexity associated with any trust, however.

Is the house is good repair? Will he be able to manage both the upkeep & the maintenance costs on his own? I think leaving him a life estate (formal or informal) in the house is not a perfect solution if he isn't really up to taking care of it. If the house will be the estate's primary asset, it's possible for him to destroy its value over time. Also, it may be safer for him to be in a senior housing complex--either a condo (mortgage paid for with his share of estate) or a rental. It's his decision, of course, but I'd suggest siblings getting together & researching a few possibilities. Then, have a family meeting with the brother present when it's closer to the time he will need to move (e.g. if mom goes into assisted living, etc.).

Is your mother prepared to see her son moved from the family home? If siblings begin easing him out now, and he objects, your mother may choose to leave home to him. It's her money, after all. If your mother is in agreement with the need to move him to an independent living situation after she's gone, she can begin disposing of household goods now (giving mementos to family, selling or donating furniture, etc.) as a way to gently remind him that the current living situation isn't going to last forever (although we all join in your hope that Mom's health will last a long time!).

Finally, please remember that where family is concerned, "equal" doesn't (IMO) mean exactly the same $ amount of inheritance. What it means is that, were you in your brother's situation, you'd get the same consideration he will get.

Also, a personal note from me for Forum members currently supporting their adult offspring: in my experience, no good comes from parents coddling adult children who don't have diagnosed physical or mental challenges. It just fosters learned dependency; I'm sure it would have been better for your brother for him to have been out on his own years ago as part of a planned, gradual "glide path" to independence.

My thoughts & prayers are with your family during this difficult time.

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dm200
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by dm200 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 1:49 pm

gerrym51 wrote:are one of you going to take him in. If not i suggest you give him the house plus a fifth of the estate thats left. i also think your consulting the wrong people. It's your siblings you should be consulting.
Based on this from the OP,
but we're afraid he may just sign over his assets to someone persuasive.
it seems, to me, that your suggestion would not be a good idea.

Of course, the siblings are the ones to make such decisions, but gathering facts, experiences and ideas first makes a lot of sense to me.

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by spencer99 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 2:18 pm

Sandyloam,

My family is going through something similar at this time. One difference is that we're dealing with our brother's situation after my Mom's death earlier this year. My brother (middle age) moved in with my Mom about seven years after substance abuse issues and job loss. He had been self-sufficient until that time, albeit at a minimum level. Rather than use the shelter/support as an opportunity, he pretty much just withdrew more and more over time.

After my Mom's death we were confronted with choices about what to do about him (he has and will take no effort or initiative) and provided with some resources in the form of a small inheritance (mostly my Mom's home). We felt some urgency because most of the family thought that left on his own he would simply become homeless.

Ultimately, several of us declined our inheritance and that provided enough income to get him into a condo (staying in the house was not an option as we thought him incapable of managing upkeep). Just to be clear, there was no element of sacrifice in doing this. He needed it, we didn't.

Where I'm going with this is twofold. First, sometime you just do what it takes to take care of family, whatever the reason. Second, it is critically important to work with other siblings to try and find consensus while respecting others' choices. Several of my siblings decided to retain their inheritance. That was completely respected.

Some other issues have been more fractious and created considerable discord in our family. Should we set expectations that he do something, anything to help himself? Should he be allowed to self-manage remaining funds himself or should (at least initially) money be managed for him? Should there be an expectation that he find (at least look for) work, or must we as a family support him going forward (condo is paid but there isn't enough to fund his living expenses for more than a couple years)?

Unfortunately, those in the family who are concerned about continuing to enable his dysfunctional behavior are being marginalized as others pretty much continue my Mom's role of meeting brother's every need. Our difficulty is less the difference of opinion (I think those could be worked out – none of us know exactly what the best approach is) but the fact that about half the family is withdrawing in the way that those who are marginalized or excluded from decision-making often do.

Our failing a this point is one of working together – communication, respect, compromise. My concern is that the dysfunction surrounding my brother will echo through other relationships in our family. That's something to think about in your case as well.

By the way, I really second Patricia's comment about “fostering dependency” in families. That happened between my mother/brother and is being replicated between my sisters/brother. These are kind of overwhelming situations for families to have to face and I can't help but think that a little more tough love in the past would have averted some of the problems we're currently facing.

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by leonard » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:45 pm

gerrym51 wrote:are one of you going to take him in. If not i suggest you give him the house plus a fifth of the estate thats left. i also think your consulting the wrong people. It's your siblings you should be consulting.
The people here have had experience with this situation and have wisdom to impart.

I am guessing this is the collective "siblings" one and only time they have dealt with this situation.

I'll vote for boglehead feedback vs siblings every time in this situation.
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Ged
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by Ged » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:55 pm

I have some experiences in this area. I have a younger brother who is now age 60 who is pretty much unemployable for several reasons at this time. He has a history of low level jobs that he hasn't been able to keep for more than a year or two. He is frugal and does a decent job investing the money he has been able to save. At the time of my father's passing he had about $80,000 in savings. He is intelligent, however has some handicaps.

All in all there are 4 brothers in the family. I am the eldest and also was named executor.

My brother lived with my parents until their deaths. He did a lot to take care of them in their elder years, particularly my father who for the last two years of his life was suffering from early Alzheimer's and depression associated with the passing of his wife. The other brothers value this considerably.

My father was very resistant to any planning for his passing. He was aware of the issues associated with my brother but did nothing to plan for them. He had a will, so at least thankfully he didn't die intestate. All the will did was to provide for equal distribution of the estate.

He told me personally that he would like it if we would allow my brother to live in his house after his death, however there was nothing in writing. I told him I thought that was not a good idea because of the costs associated with the maintenance of the house. I also know that one of my other brothers, while independent was somewhat in debt and facing college costs so the estate size would be important to him and his family.

Fortunately the four of us get along pretty well. We often vacation together and talk over things.

When my father passed we came to an agreement that we would sell the house, and the two well off brothers, myself and the youngest would help fund a condo with some of the proceeds of the estate. As executor I felt very fortunate - there are so many stories of fighting over the processing of the estate. My brothers were great. No conflicts at all, just some occasional spirited discussions about politics and sports.

Eventually we did this. While my brother has not been working and seems to be in decline physically his savings have been growing slowly as he has been successfully investing and keeping his lifestyle very modest. I now think that once he starts collecting SS there is a good chance he will be independent. Even if he isn't fully independent I think the amount of help he will need will not be large enough to discomfit us significantly.

So really I think it's very important for the family to be realistic about these things. One of those is to realize that maintenance of a full house that was home to a family of 6 at one time just doesn't work at all as the home of someone with very limited resources.

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by cbeck » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:14 pm

I would start with the assumption that 100% of the mother's estate should be allocated to take care of the brother, who is, effectively, 100% disabled. From the description none of the other siblings needs the inheritance. The will gets rewritten or the siblings agree to disclaim their shares. Put the estate into a trust managed by all of the siblings who are numerate for the benefit of the disabled brother. If the needs of the brother can be met with less than 100% of the estate, then divvy up the rest among the other siblings.

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by ieee488 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:45 am

The OP hasn't been back, so not sure what is going on here.
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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by NoVa Lurker » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:06 am

If OP comes back -- who has been maintaining the house recently? It would surprise me if it's your 89-year-old mother and 57-year-old brother, based on what you have told us, even if "house" means a condo/townhome with an HOA.

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by ER2023 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:24 am

MattE wrote:You do the best that you can and try to forget it's a problem when it's not immediately an issue, to be honest. My mother is 46, a paranoid schizophrenic, and even prior to mental illness setting in had been one of the least reliable people and worst decision makers I've ever met in my life. She's completely unemployable at this point, and in her attempts to work over the past 8 years or so hasn't held anything down for more than a few weeks. She's dependent on the generosity of my wife and I and several of my aunts\uncles for basic needs, and we've had to go to great lengths to ensure food\shelter\clothing being provided for her outside of her direct control, because experience has shown that simply providing financial assistance and leaving the rest up to her is just throwing cash into a pit with her ending up in untenable situations.

How seriously do you doubt your brother's ability to not end up homeless and destitute once he no longer has his basic needs immediately provided for? How greatly would each sibling's share of the proceeds from your mother's house impact their lives? Could your other siblings with the reality of your brother not being able to provide for himself? Ensuring my mother has always had housing was an on-going issue for several years as she often found herself being evicted from rentals, and the eventual course of action taken by the extended family and I was to pool our resources and buy a cheap-but-livable home in my name in cash and install her in it as her permanent residence. It was a non-negligible upfront cost, but the peace of mind has been worth it thus far. I would give serious consideration to trying to arrange for possession of the house to be retained by yourself and\or the other siblings and permitting your brother to live there so that at least that situation is assured.
Knew someone in a similar situation and I greatly admire what you and your family are doing - very commendable. It's not easy - frustrating at best - and you sound like you are on the right track with your decisions. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes to you and your family.

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by 555 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:34 am

sandyloam wrote:I really appreciate all your ideas and suggestions. The consensus seems to be that 1/5 of Mom's estate may not be enough for his needs. I suppose that's the elephant in the room.
He's definite not a 'free spirit', really the opposite; afraid of adulthood. No danger of binges or substance abuse, but we're afraid he may just sign over his assets to someone persuasive.
Again, this has given me a much needed perspective. Thank You!
So does he actually have some kind of diagnosable condition, or is he just suffering from learned helplessness?

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by dm200 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:52 pm

This discussion/dilemma, as do others here, as well as observing many similar experiences in recent years - bring back memories growing up in the 50's (in small, rural community) that there seemed to be (back then) a number of folks in the community who had various kinds of difficulties with employment, adjusting to the mainstream , etc., but who were "taken care of" by family members, often for long periods of time. In many cases, it seemed, such folks did, to a considerable degree, make some contribution to the household and larger community (perhaps church, neighbors, etc.).

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Re: Moving brother out of Mom's house

Post by joe8d » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:52 pm

cbeck wrote:I would start with the assumption that 100% of the mother's estate should be allocated to take care of the brother, who is, effectively, 100% disabled. From the description none of the other siblings needs the inheritance. The will gets rewritten or the siblings agree to disclaim their shares. Put the estate into a trust managed by all of the siblings who are numerate for the benefit of the disabled brother. If the needs of the brother can be met with less than 100% of the estate, then divvy up the rest among the other siblings.
Totally agree and would bet that would be the mother's wish also.
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