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Old 09-24-2007, 03:13 PM   #21
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Mom doesn't (yet) know the specifics of all of this. I think she is very conflicted about Brother. She has always considered him "challenged" but let him go his own way. He currently pays no rent, pays nothing towards food, does no regular household chores. He will occasionally repair something, but not well and not promptly to her satisfaction. She has lied to us before about him paying "rent" and grocery money. She has been having a difficult time as a widow, with bad night terrors, so it is comforting for her to have someone in the house.
This sent up about a dozen red flags. To be blunt, it sounds like mom is codependent and is every bit as deep into denial as is DB, if she's supporting him at this late stage. And if you think it's hard to change a 50-year-old, just try it on someone who's 80+.

It's a painful situation, I know, and I'm sorry for it. But if you go into it (or stay out of it) with the right expectations (none whatsoever), it might help your peace of mind.

Just remember the typical story of the cops who are called to break up a domestic fight, then have the husband and wife gang up on them when they try to help. Your brother and mother may well have a strong, lifelong system in place -- you could be the biggest casualty if you are perceived as a threat to it.

Just IMHO -- take care and good luck, whatever you do. A lot of us have been there and know how frustrating it is.
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Old 09-25-2007, 07:25 AM   #22
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It's nearly impossible to help someone when that person does not want to change or accept help from anyone.
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Old 09-25-2007, 08:25 AM   #23
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Your mother is an enabler of your brother.
He cannot be rescued unless he makes the decision to change his ways - and follows up.
She cannot be rescued unless she makes the decision to change her ways - and follows up.
Sad? Yes, sure. But life is sad sometimes.
I would not give up talking to your mother and brother - as long as I'd have the impression that communication is honest.
I would also help finding professional help - if they are looking for it.
But mainly I would protect myself from getting too much absorbed emotionally.

By the way, your post left me with the impression that your brother was the weak child. Thus, as a child you may have gained the impression that he was loved more than you by your mother.
If so, how much of your current involvement is an attempt to fight for the love of your mother? If any of this is true, try to deal with your emotional involvement or burnout is close.
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Old 09-25-2007, 11:28 AM   #24
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I agree with a lot of the advice above....if this is how the relationship has been between your mother and brother....he messes up, she coddles him....there is nothing that you can do for them, unless they want to fix this dysfunctional relationship.
It sounds harsh and cold.....but this situation is none of your business....emotionally, it is and I understand it...but if you give advice....you will be ignored....if you don't, then you will be berated for not doing so....lose-lose situation.
Best to stay out of it....and pray that they find the answers they are looking for.
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Old 09-25-2007, 04:39 PM   #25
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keeping yourself out of this financially will be harder than you think--especially if you are living closer than other familly members, have helped your mother or brother in the past, are visibly stable...
other people may even try to make you feel responsible---what is the understanding regarding your mother's estate between you and the other family/siblings...

it sounds to me like your mother will risk what she has to try to save your brother...that is throwing good money after bad...
is it possible your brother has some type of physical/psychological condition that is affecting his judgement--has he had a really thorough physical exam in the past couple of years...
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Old 09-25-2007, 08:26 PM   #26
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I am sorry to hear that you are confronted with this unpleasant situation.

Presumably you would like to have a happy life. When reading the balance of my comments, below, I respectfully suggest you bear in mind that research has shown happiness is largely determined by one's ability to:

- maintain loving and harmonius relationships with family and friends;
- simplify one's life and avoid stressful complications.

Here, it does not appear that either your brother or your mother has asked you for advice or assistance. On the contrary, you report that your brother is "extremely secretive" regarding his apparent financial problems, and that your mother - who apparently took him into her home of her own free will - has been lying about her apparent gifts of money to your brother.

Unless and until either one seeks your thoughts on things, you would do well do keep your own counsel. Even if they do subsequently ask you for advice, it would be best to be circumspect in offering it: all too often, people who say they want a sounding board really just want affirmation and approval of their own decisions.

I suggest that you ask yourself precisely why your family is "massively stressed" about this situation. If your brother has financial troubles, that is his problem, not yours or your other siblings. If your mother chooses to let him reside with her, that is her decision and she - not you - is the one who will have to put up with any related problems. You report that she enjoys having someone around to relieve her loneliness, and that Brother "gets by on being very nice" ... so his presence in the home is far from an unmitigated disaster.

Another question to ask yourself: "what is the worst that can happen?". I don't know all of the facts, but it sounds like the answer is: Brother will spend the remainder of his life as a undischarged bankrupt, possibly living on the street, and Mom will give Brother all her savings and eventually lose her home. Not a pretty picture, but it would not be the end of the world, either. Brother is responsible for his own mess. At age 80, Mom has already had a long and presumably good life, so the prospect of her being penniless in her remaining years is very unpleasant but not catastrophic. And remember, that is the absolute worst case, which very likely will never happen.

I could well be wrong, but it sounds possible that you are worried about Brother living with Mom because subconsciously you are: (1) jealous of the extra attention he is getting; and/or (2) worried about Mom burning through her estate, leaving little or nothing for you when she dies.

In the first case, try to realize that Mom has enough love for all of you, and that the days are long past when you have to compete with Brother.

In the second case, recognize that Mom's money is hers to squander do with as she pleases, and that you have no moral right to any inheritance. Besides, being a prudent person, you are already financially independent and have no need of any support from her or anyone else, right?

Financial guardianship is not on the cards. I am not an expert in mental health law, but trust me, you don't want to go down that road. Trying to have brother involuntarily declared mentally incompetent is unlikely to succeed (as 2B has said, legally there is a big difference between "irresponsible" and "incompetent"), and it is entirely possible that he could retain an attorney to sue you for malicious prosecution or some similar action. I'm not saying that such a lawsuit would necessarily win, but being sued is never a pleasant experience.

If brother wants to go the guardianship route voluntarily, bankruptcy would be a much easier and cleaner way of achieving much the same ends.

In any case, who would be the guardian? Can't be Mom, because she is elderly, in poor health, and you obviously question her judgment. Do you want to take on the thankless task role? If so, why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by A854321 View Post
Tonight I will make a conference call to Mom and Bro, spilling the beans on this miserable situation, and giving them the name of a tax attorney to call ASAP. If he fails to follow through, I'm about ready to call the IRS and tell them where they can find him.Is that a reasonable idea?
I don't think so. Making threats is not a way to 'win friends and influence people'. Remember, you want to try to maintain reasonably good relationships with all your family members. That doesn't mean that you should support their poor decisions, but neither does it mean that you should play the self-appointed role of 'Father' (Knows Best).

I hope that you will receive the above in the spirit in which it was intended. I have no desire to offend you, or anyone else.
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Old 09-25-2007, 08:51 PM   #27
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Milton: You make many good points.
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Old 09-25-2007, 09:23 PM   #28
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Thanks Gumby. I hope the OP finds it useful.
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Old 09-26-2007, 09:50 AM   #29
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Wow..... This is such a sad situation, and I know it happens much more often then any of us would like to say. On the one hand you have your family that you love and care about, and on the other, you have your own life, your own family, and your own emotional well being.
I guess the only advice I could offer is to remember that you are not legally, or morally responsible for either your mother or brother. If your brother were truly metally challenged, he would have fallen long before now. And I know that sounds horribly cold and insensitive, but that is not the way it is intended. I think it is horribly unfair when a family member employs what I like to call, "emotional blackmail". As in...."why do you not love me enough to help me"? But what they are really saying is, "My life and my happiness, is more important than yours. and you should sacrifice your life, money, emotional heath, etc, to save me... because you love me".
People that truly love and care for you, would never ask you to sacrifice yourself for them. Should you help your mother and brother through temporary bouts of emotional, or economic hardship? Of course you should, this is what families DO for each other! But you need to be really careful that not too much of yourself is surrendered in that bargain. Just because your mother or brother NEED something that you have, does not automatically give them any claim to it. Just my thoughts, and I truly hope that your situation improves for the better.
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Old 09-26-2007, 10:03 AM   #30
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Milton's post is outstanding!

My own brother is 55, educated and intelligent, no "chemical" problems; and well on his way to becoming a 60-year-old homeless person with no pension and no insurance. Fortunately, both parents passed away many years ago, sisters and I are scattered all of the U.S., so his ability to sponge off of us is limited. On the other hand, he's about to move into his girl friend's house...
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Old 09-26-2007, 10:29 AM   #31
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Milton, I wish they had a "rate the post" button; I would give you 5 stars.

A854321.. did you make the call? How did it go?
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Old 09-26-2007, 02:16 PM   #32
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Another question to ask yourself: "what is the worst that can happen?". I don't know all of the facts, but it sounds like the answer is: Brother will spend the remainder of his life as a undischarged bankrupt, possibly living on the street, and Mom will give Brother all her savings and eventually lose her home. Not a pretty picture, but it would not be the end of the world, either. Brother is responsible for his own mess. At age 80, Mom has already had a long and presumably good life, so the prospect of her being penniless in her remaining years is very unpleasant but not catastrophic. And remember, that is the absolute worst case, which very likely will never happen.

Good post... as other have said...

BUT, your worst case is lacking in possibilities.... Brother could get so stressed out that he decides mothers home and money would be better as an inheritance and do something to make it happen... there are many examples of it happening on the news..
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:29 PM   #33
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TP, my intention was not to panic the OP, it was to calm him down. Certainly I concede that there are even worse possibilities ... but I hope (?) that those are so remote that they may be dismissed as merely theoretical.

ladelfina and Jim, thank you for your kind words.
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:36 PM   #34
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Tonight I will make a conference call to Mom and Bro, spilling the beans on this miserable situation, and giving them the name of a tax attorney to call ASAP. If he fails to follow through, I'm about ready to call the IRS and tell them where they can find him.
Is that a reasonable idea?
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I don't think so. Making threats is not a way to 'win friends and influence people'. Remember, you want to try to maintain reasonably good relationships with all your family members. That doesn't mean that you should support their poor decisions, but neither does it mean that you should play the self-appointed role of 'Father' (Knows Best).
Maybe A8 was referring to the 10% that the IRS awards people who turn in tax offenders...
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Old 09-27-2007, 12:38 AM   #35
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The 50 year old has had judgments since 2000 so he had to know he was breaking tax laws. He doesn't care to change anything. The IRS will get him when they can and he could even go to jail for tax fraud. He can't have thought there were no taxes for self employed people when he was in his 40's especially after judgments.

I have a 60 year old brother who is the same sort of person. He was convinced income tax was illegal and he the IRS couldn't make him pay them. He destroyed his drivers license and refused to work any jobs that would withhold taxes. He lived in a garage for a year once. He moved in with mom about 14 years go after dad died. He has never paid any rent. Mom bought him glasses and shoes and does his laundry. But she is 80 and likes having him around. He only mows the lawn when she can't find someone to hire and never does anything else unless specifically asked. Mom bought herself a new car because his was broken so she could sell him her used car cheap. She financed the car before this for him and he did pay her back. He is I am pretty sure mentally ill, he will borrow money to give to people who need it so has debt while living nearly free. Now as mom can really use having someone in the house he might move to a motel he is managing. My other brother resents mom wanting him to come do things when our brother lives there. It does feel odd to go there to do things for her that should be his chores. Her cellar door was made too thin so is starting to fall apart, I have to measure it and buy plywood then make her a new one and paint it. I will probably spend $30 and 2 hours doing it, he is living there free why can't he do it? But I don't care it is just a chore that will make mom happy.
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Old 09-27-2007, 11:26 AM   #36
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Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought that Milton's post (although well written and reasoned) missed a third reason why the OP is upset:

He doesn't want his brother taking advantage of their mother.

I don't believe the OP is suffering from jealousy or is greedy for his mother's estate. To the contrary, I think he's looking out for the best interests of his mother. She is susceptible to one major emotional thing that the OP isn't -- the desire of a mother to care (sacrifice) for her children even to her own significant detriment. Very little is stronger than the bond between mother and child in this world, regardless of the age of the "child".

The OP wants his brother to grow up, which is something his mother ought to have told the brother decades ago. I don't recall if the OP said his father was still alive, but if he isn't, that would explain a great deal. Fathers usually cut the apron strings (umbilical cord?) if mothers aren't willing to do so. The OP's mother has done her job, and it is completely selfish (if not particularly cruel) for the OP's brother to expect his mother to keep supporting him at age 50.

My advice? The OP should put aside some money to help his mother if she's suffering under the weight of her deadbeat son. That money shouldn't be given in the form of cash, but rather in the form of food, clothing (women's clothing) and related support not convertible to cash (and preferably not even usable by the deadbeat brother).
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Old 09-27-2007, 11:45 AM   #37
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Hello Jay,

I don't disagree with your comments, but would like to observe that no one can be taken advantage of without their complicity. Nowhere has the OP suggested that Mom is mentally incompetent, or that Brother is blackmailing her or engaging in similar conduct so as to compel her to provide him with food, shelter, etc. So, we probably have to assume that she is essentially happy with being "taken advantage of".

Certainly the OP wants Brother to grow up ... and rightly so. However, as you say, it's all a bit late now, and not really the OP's job. If I were him, I wouldn't waste the time and emotional energy on trying to educate Brother, which in any case would be an exercise in futility.

The OP can decide for himself if he wants to provide Mom with some food, clothing, etc. to help make up the costs of sheltering Brother. However, I see at least three arguments against that plan:

(1) regardless of the form of the gifts to Mom, they will free up money that Mom can give to Brother: so they amount to an indirect subsidy of Brother, which the OP wishes to avoid.

(2) OP will realize (1), and will become increasingly resentful of Brother (pouring gasoline on the fire).

(3) if indeed Mom gives some of the freed-up cash to Brother, she will have an increased reason to be secretive about doing so. The upshot may be that Mom and Brother are drawn more tightly into a conspiracy of silence against the OP.

Just a few random thoughts. I certainly don't have all of the answers.

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Old 09-27-2007, 11:53 AM   #38
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Follow-up

Here's some follow-up:

1. I am involved because an employer/former financial partner/friend of brother's received a final notice from IRS and he called me asking me to come up with half the amount due the IRS so that my brother wouldn't go to jail. I was certainly not going to pay off my brother's debt.

2. My brother used my address without my knowledge or permission as a business address and it shows up in his delinquent credit report.

3. My family was concerned the IRS or a collection agency would show up on my mother's doorstep. Her address also shows up on his credit report.

So, we had a conference call with Brother, Mother, Me, other family:

1. Brother denied having any problems, at first lied about having any IRS issues = saying it was being taken care of:
What
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Old 09-27-2007, 11:57 AM   #39
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I think he's looking out for the best interests of his mother. She is susceptible to one major emotional thing that the OP isn't -- the desire of a mother to care (sacrifice) for her children even to her own significant detriment. Very little is stronger than the bond between mother and child in this world, regardless of the age of the "child".
Another thought: I suspect that the bond is as strong as you say. That being the case, there is no point to the OP trying to break it. Logical argument certainly isn't going to work, if Mom's actions are ultimately ruled by emotions and maternal instinct.
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Old 09-27-2007, 01:25 PM   #40
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Sorry about the incomplete post, I was disconnected. To further explain:

1. Brother stating it had been taken care of meant that the IRS had been garnishing his wages since June 2007. He had not contacted the IRS at all. He had received multiple notices from the IRS that we know were never opened. My mother had received IRS mail for him at her address that she turned over to him, but he never opened in her presence, and we suspect that was also trashed.

2. He evidently knew of the liens, because he claimed the state of California personal tax lien was for the IRS, even though he had income in Calfornia.

3. He knew of the credit debt in collections, but has avoided any contact with collections, etc because a friend of his told him these accounts "go cold" when they are sold to collections agencies and you can just wait them out. The friend is a used car salesman. Nuff said.

Mom was in tears. Everyone furious at him. Mostly because he has exposed mother to harassment by IRS and collection agencies, destroyed the goodwill of family and friends, and exposed employers and business partners to IRS harassment.

He was given three instructions:
1. Call the tax attorney we have you the phone number of.
2. Get an appointment with your prior accountant ASAP.
3. Get an appointment with a credit counseling agency.
4. Visit a substance abuse counseling group or a personal counselor.

He has done the first two:
1. Tax attorney says he isn't needed if the IRS debt is below $50k, the accountant can handle it.
2. Accountant has his power of attorney and is going to work with IRS and state of California. I do not know the specifics, nor is it my business anymore.

He has not contacted a credit counseling agency or a substance abuse program. I suspect he does not intend on paying his credit debt. He has many "toys" that could be sold to pay back his debts: kayaks, audioequipment, mulitple pairs of skis, snowshoes, other personal electronic items, but he'd rather keep this stuff than discharge his debt. That's his choice. It's also his choice not to pursue a substance abuse or personal counselor.

Mom is positively cheerful. She is relieved he is not going to jail and the sheriff is not showing up on her doorstep. She accepts he will likely have to live with her for years to get back on his feet financially. That is her choice. I don't need to lecture her on co-dependance. She can figure this out.

He is not allowed to show up on my property ( the one he listed as his business) until his financial obligations have been finished, which includes IRS, state, and credit.

I have finally been able to get a night's sleep. As an aside- I have no need for my mother's estate- my net worth exceeds $2.5Mk. My concern is to protect her mental well-being and her assets for HER use. Not mine or anyone else's.

Your comments are all so valuable. Some lessons:
1. When you get an IRS notice- Open it, get advice as necessary and contact them. Be appropriate.

2. Be honest with yourself about your spending habits. Get help. It's out there.

Situation is OK now, but damage has been done. I brother is relieved, but unrealistic. Unless he can get his behavior in line, he will start to get antsy in about a month when living with mom and having no discretionary income gets old. But it's not my problem then.
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