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Kiss the inheritance goodbye
Old 07-09-2009, 02:31 PM   #1
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Kiss the inheritance goodbye

We have been retired since Jan 2008, and have had a wonderful frugal time so far. Although I never "planned" on any inheritance, the in-laws do have a very nice house ($300K) that they own outright, and about a million $$ in CDs that they never touch. They seem to do fine on a pension and social security, which provides them with about 70K per year.
But my MIL has always been eccentric--and has been getting progressively battier. FIL seems to be in denial, although he knows she is a little off, he hasn't noticed the gradual decline in her reasoning as much as we do when we come to visit. We live in OR and they live in VA, so we don't see them too often.
Currently, the will states that if both should die, DH will inherit everything--since there are no other siblings. However, it turns out that MIL is eager to get her hands on that million dollars, and probably has no intention of giving anything to her son. This is according to FIL.
The last time we visited, MIL was accusing FIL of incest with his sister--based on the fact that a christmas card was signed "love, Pat". When my DH and I were less than sympathetic (we kind of laughed when she said it, and told her we didn't want to hear about it) she became irate and kicked us out of their house. MIL also is accusing FIL of having an affair with a woman who called about 15 years ago while they were staying in a hotel in England, and asked for "wee Davey"! She confuses things that happened years ago with things that happened yesterday. She gets letters from her granddaughter, but believes they are from her great grand daughter--despite the signature on the letter (they have very different names).
She has a fridge full of gatorade in every color imaginable, but they don't drink the stuff, and measures out her milk into 2cup pyrex measuring cups--where there is no gatorade, there are pyrex cups half full of milk. The has about 15 measuring cups. She doesn't bother with a closet or dresser any more, just folds the clothes and stacks it in little tidy piles, sorted by color. We tried to do a laundry there, but she refused--she said she needed to do it because she had to watch the washer because it walked across the floor. When I offered to help her level the washing machine, she told me it was level--even though I could see it was obviously tilted. She did the laundry and stole all our socks!
FIL is afraid of her wrath, but I don't think she is beating him up physically. He is not allowed to see his sister any more (because of the incest allegations)--and he hasn't seen her in years even though they live 30 min. away. FIL is afraid to call us and talk to us privately, since MIL will see the call on the bill. Whenever we call, they each get on an extension, and so there is no time to talk without her on the line. When I suggested a prepaid cell phone or email set up, FIL thought MIL would get too suspicious. I could go on and on, but you get the picture...
They are getting on in years--FIL is 80, and MIL is about 76 or so. Health-wise, I'm pretty sure she will outlive him. It's like watching a slow-motion train wreck that can't be stopped--and as long as FIL doesn't do anything, all we can do is hear about it from 3,000 miles away.
I'm not sure there is anything we can do---and I suppose it sounds money-grubbing---but we hate to see her fritter the million $$ on dishtowels and cosmetic bags (her bedroom walls are festooned with cosmetic bags)....I just needed to vent..
ps: MIL's mother was placed in an assisted-living home because she lost her reasoning, too.
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:35 PM   #2
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Is it possible you could get POA?
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:36 PM   #3
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Sounds to me like the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Note the items under "Personality Changes": Alzheimer's disease: Symptoms - MayoClinic.com
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:40 PM   #4
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Oh my...what a situation. This must be very hard to deal with from far away.
Does FIL get out of the house at all? If so, he should talk this over with his physician and see if there is any way she can be evaluated, if she is willing to see a doctor.
My exMIL had a control thing going on with my late FIL when his mobility started slipping in his late 80s. He became moderately dependent on her and her personality got meaner and meaner. But never to this extent.
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:45 PM   #5
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I would be more concerned about your FIL's quality of life, than the money. Regarding the inheritance, I would urge you to consider that it's really not wise to count on any inheritance until it is in the bank - - so many things can happen. But more importantly, it also seems to me that what you are seeing now appears to be an abusive situation that needs some sort of immediate intervention.

Sorry that you are going through this.
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:50 PM   #6
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I think it is well-worth a visit there when you can schedule to take FIL to their physician for a serious discussion about this. I agree with W2R, it is his quality of life that is suffering from her mental illness.

Your DH should be nudged in the direction of getting involved in this (you really should try as hard as possible to remain on the fringes). Poor FIL!
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:02 PM   #7
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I re-read your post and I have to say I don't have a good feeling about this. The accusations and control of outside communications are downright scary.
The close-by sister is an important ally. It would be prudent to get her involved ASAP.
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:03 PM   #8
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Wow. Cosmetic bags decorating the walls! Your MIL is nuts. I agree with Sarah and W2R. Get the FIL to a physician's appt where the situation can be discussed. Don't assume that the situation with them will remain stable. MIL sounds controlling and she could get violent.

My former FIL developed Alzheimer's in his 70s. Toward the end he was verbally abusive to MIL which was TOTALLY out of character.

You have my sympathies.
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:03 PM   #9
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Thanks for the words of support.
W2R--I am worried about FIL--the last time we visited he said he had considered suicide! as a solution to his problem.
Freebird5828--Yes, FIL is dependent on MIL, and is probably afraid to rock the boat for that reason. We discussed having FIL talk to MIL's doctor prior to her next visit--he agreed he should do it, but he hasn't done it yet, and I don't think he will. But Sarah-in-SC, I hadn't thought of taking him to the doctor privately when we go to visit next time...that might work.
Apparently MIL saw a doctor for mental issues many years ago--and she is terrified of going crazy like her mom did. For that reason, I think it will be impossible to get her to go to a doctor.
I'm not sure a POA will work here--FIL would be the one to pursue it, I think(?)
Since we FIREd, we don't have a lot of money to fly back and forth, but DH will go visit them this winter to give his dad moral support.
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:17 PM   #10
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Someone should call and speak to her Doctor and tell him exactly what is going on . She may seem sane at the appointments . I would also search for senior social services that could evalute your MIL in her home . They would then be able to contact the Doctor depending on their evaluation . Good Luck !
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:26 PM   #11
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Someone nailed it... the concern (given their age) isn't the frittering away of assets, it's the quality of life for Pops. He sounds like he's in a virtual dungeon.
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketdog View Post
I'm not sure a POA will work here--FIL would be the one to pursue it, I think(?)
DH and I started proceedings on a medical POA for my FIL; he had Alzheimer's. My MIL was ok, but felt she might not be able to make decisions...so we agreed to take over. However, he passed away before all the paperwork was done. I believe there are different types of POAs. You may want to speak to a lawyer about this. Once you educate yourself, you can talk to your FIL and see what he thinks.

Believe me...I know it's a tough situation.
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:37 PM   #13
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I agree with the suggestion of going to the doc with dad and talking about the issue. She may not be competent to handle her own affairs and may need to have a guardian appointed. From what you said she likely wouldn't consent to a POA, hence the guardianship. So, depending on what the doctor suggests you might also need a trip with dad to a lawyer.

As painful as it might be for dad someone needs to step in and take charge of the situation.
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:43 PM   #14
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I think your mother in law needs a geriatric psych evaluation. In-patient would be best but a lot of hospitals can do this out patient, too. If your MIL won't go, ask her physician if he/she can order a psych visiting nurse under Medicare to evaluate her at home. There might be medications that can help the situation. In order to grant a POA to someone, you have to be capable mentally of granting this at the time the POA is signed. If she is not deemed capable of signing by the attorney, FIL or your husband might have to seek guardianship(there are two types: of the person and of the estate). To get a guardianship involves a court hearing and your MIL would have to have representation, too. A physician would have to certify that she is incapable of managing her own affairs. You have to be pretty far gone for this to occur. If you are oriented to person, place and time(and it sounds like she quite possibly is) this might not fly. I have seen people in my line of work sound quite reasonable when it comes to the doctor or a courtroom(self preservation kicks in). The best place to start is for FIL to have a talk with the doctor. Good luck.
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Old 07-09-2009, 04:02 PM   #15
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For those who suggest a psych evaluation, MIL appears very sane. The house is nice and tidy, she is well-groomed, and outwardly everything appears to be a normal, middle-class existence. She tracks current events, reads the washington post every day and does the sudoku. The gatorade, cosmetic bags, dishtowels, etc...might appear "eccentric" but not life-threatening.
I think the best angle is the elder-abuse angle. We have invited FIL to come live with us, but he has to be the one who makes the move, I fear.
We also discussed with FIL the idea of setting up a trust for her, so when FIL dies, MIL will always have enough to live on. But he hasn't done it yet, I think he's afraid to do it.
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Old 07-09-2009, 04:17 PM   #16
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I think it is your DH who has to make the first move as their son. It also sounds like there is enough $$ to have someone take care of both of them so he does not need to depend on her (and thus be afraid to rock the boat by getting help).

Your MIL's progression into dementia or other problems can't be so rare that there aren't procedures in place to take care of her and your FIL. I can't believe the professionals who assess folks in her condition won't be able to see past the seemingly normal aspects of her life--i.e., someone who thinks her elderly spouse is engaging in incestuous relations with his sibling.

It sounds like they are both at risk physically and emotionally from her condition.

Good luck--my heart goes out to you and your DH.
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Old 07-10-2009, 10:56 AM   #17
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Not to be mean but rocketdog you got to admit some of this stuff is pretty funny. I can't laugh too hard because my family has had trouble because a physic told my aunt that part of the family was evil and she believed the physic. Because of that the two sides of the family have not got along for years.
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Old 07-10-2009, 11:03 AM   #18
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I think the MIL has dementia. I talked with a friend who's mother kept doing similar "progressively wackier stuff".

For years there was nothing daughter could do. You cannot commit a person against their will - unless under they are under extreme, demonstrable, and defined threat to themself or others.

One day the mother made some wacky threats and the mother briefly acknowledged she was nuts. The kids got her quickly in some psych hospital oon her own will and got her on meds.

She now lives in an alzheimer's-like assisted living situation and is fairly rational under meds.

Good luck. It's kind of a Catch 22- you have to be sane for a minute to declare yourself crazy - but if you're sane, that means you're not crazy............
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Old 07-10-2009, 11:48 AM   #19
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It sounds like your DH's target should be converting their wealth into a better quality of life for both his mom and dad as they pass through this tough portion of life. They have plenty of money to afford to be in a top notch assisted/monitored living situation where mom's progressing dimentia can be monitored and where services will be provided so that dad can be more independent.

There are a number of threads on the subject of getting aging/failing parents out of their homes and into appropriate living/care situations. Since DH's parents pension + 4% WR on their assets is in excess of $120K/yr, paying for the accomocations and care necessary to upgrade both of their lives is no problem. I'd find a way to get that done, especially since DH lives far away and can't be there to monitor and help.
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Old 07-10-2009, 11:52 AM   #20
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You cannot commit a person against their will - unless under they are under extreme, demonstrable, and defined threat to themself or others.
Thank goodness!
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