My brother wants a bigger share of our mother’s cash | Agony Aunt
QMy mother was always worried about money so, when she got older, she gave me power of attorney, making me responsible for her financial affairs. She deliberately didn’t name my brother, because the two of them had always had a difficult relationship. When she went into care, we activated it and that’s when my brother found out. He was furious and went to court but the judge said that her wishes were perfectly clear, and she’d obviously had her reasons for doing what she did.
He went on to say that if she’d wanted him to act for her, or for us to do it jointly, she would have given him Power of Attorney too.
Six weeks ago, my mother died, and although her will clearly states my brother and I should have equal shares in her estate, he’s contesting that too. He wants more, in spite of the fact that he has had far more than me already, with the money she lent him over the years. He says there is another will. But the one her solicitor holds is the one she made just before going into the nursing home, so I don’t see how there can be.
My brother is just so angry all the time, and even my ex-husband said all he was ever after was my mum’s money.
It’s not as if she even had a lot – we’re only talking about £20,000 as her house was sold to pay for her care. I don’t have many relatives and he is my closest, but we are miles apart now, and I don’t see how we can ever come together again. KD.
FIONA SAYS: STAND FIRM
Sadly, I don’t think it will be easy for you and your brother to be reconciled, either. Money they say, is the root of all evil – but I think it’s at the root of vast numbers of disputes as well.
Whilst it might be tempting to simply let him have the lion’s share and walk away, I don’t think it would make any difference to your ongoing relationship. If anything, I think it would make it worse. It sounds as though he is bullying and trying to dominate you – and if you let him get away with that, he will always try to do so.
Your mother made her wishes clear when she chose not to have your brother as her power of attorney – she didn’t really trust him, but she did trust you. If you don’t fight your brother over this, it will be a betrayal of your mother’s wishes too.
You have obviously had contact with a lawyer, so it might be sensible to leave it to the courts to decide. If your brother tries to contact you and persuade you to give in, just tell him that all you want to do is abide by your mother’s wishes, so you’re going to leave it to the court to decide what to do. Don’t be persuaded to enter into discussions with him about it, as he might try and twist your words to use as ‘evidence’ of some kind.
Once the courts have made their decision, be prepared for him to still try to persuade you to let him have more than his share. If his motivation has always been financial, he probably won’t give up the fight just because the law has stated he has no case.
If, however, there does turn out to be another will, I think you should be willing to try and contest it yourself. It may be that your mother was coerced by him into signing something whilst she was in the nursing home – while you held her Power of Attorney – and that may not be legal.
You say you don’t have many relatives, but please remember that relatives are not necessarily people we would choose to have in our lives. We are lucky when they are, but friends are the people we choose so make the most of them.
MY MOTHER IS SICK IN GERMANY – AND BLAMES ME FOR NOT BEING THERE
I was born and brought up in Germany to an English mother and German father. I returned to live in the UK several years ago, when my (German) husband’s job brought him here, but my mum and dad have always remained in Germany.
Up until recently, it was relatively easy for me to pop back and forth to see them, and although I was close to my dad, I’ve always had a tricky relationship with my mum. She thinks that, as I am the daughter of the family, I should be the one to be around to look after them as they get older.
I have always worked, and my current job is with an airline so I travel all the time, so that’s never been an easy option for me. My two brothers both live locally to my parents and are more than happy to help out – and I support them as best I can, including financially. However, this isn’t enough, and she has been saying terrible things about me to them and to my teenage children, which is very hurtful.
With Covid, of course, it’s been impossible for me to go near them, and now they have both become unwell. My mum is being extremely difficult and is refusing to see a doctor, despite severe breathing problems. With the quarantine regulations currently in place, not being able to go to Germany is making me dreadfully depressed and unhappy. My husband feels guilty about his job being over here, and it’s affecting our relationship too.
It’s not a nice feeling when there is nothing you can do about it, especially with mum telling my children how unforgivable this is of me, being 500 miles away while she is ill. ES
FIONA SAYS: YOU ARE DOING ALL YOU CAN
I’m so sorry to read about all the difficulties you’re having with your mother. It’s sad that she won’t accept the medical help she so clearly needs, and won’t accept the support of your brothers either.
Your mother is playing you here, but what she hopes to achieve isn’t clear. Mothers know us so well, so they know just which buttons to press to make us react. She is clearly trying to force your return to Germany by making you feel guilty, but you really mustn’t let her. You are doing what seems best for you and for your family; you have put things in place to help her and your dad, which she fails to appreciate at all.
It’s just unfortunate that she’s becoming worse while all the pandemic restrictions are in place. Your mother is getting old, and perhaps getting scared – there may be things she is worried about in relation to her health that she doesn’t feel comfortable discussing with the men in her life. If you can find a close female relative or friend to add to the mix of support you’ve put in place for her, it might be useful.
Between the time you wrote to me and now, some travel restrictions have eased, and you may have already gone to see your parents. Nonetheless, you may find yourself in a similar situation to this in future, and you need to be prepared for how to handle it. I’d encourage you to talk to your husband and brothers to make sure they support you and understand that your own family must be your priority.
I would also suggest long conversations with your children about family relationships, so they understand what you have put in place for your parents. I’m sure they don’t feel their grandparents are being neglected, but its best to check in and make sure.
WILL I EVER GET OVER THIS SEPARATION?
I have been separated from my girlfriend for eight months now, and it’s not getting any easier. She’s told me to get out there and meet someone else, but I can’t.
I feel like ending my life because I am so depressed, but the one thing that is stopping me is I have two children to think about. Will I ever get over this? Because I love her so much and miss my children every day. AL.
FIONA SAYS: IT WILL GET EASIER
I am so sorry that you’re in such pain. And I know you’ll find it hard to accept this right now, but these feelings will pass. It won’t be easy and, as you’ve found, it won’t happen overnight.
In the meantime, when you feel down, do please contact the Samaritans (samaritans.org – or call 116 123). A willing, sympathetic, non-judgemental listener can make all the difference between going under and having the strength to face another day, and that is what they are there for. You might also want to speak to your GP about how you are feeling. No matter how hard it feels, there are things that can help.
I know it’s also hard at times like this to think on practical matters, but I think you should try. Your ex-partner doesn’t see a future for your relationship. However, this does not mean that you should be denied the right to see your children. You might also like to contact your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau (citizensadvice.org.uk) who could advise you about access rights.
MY HOUSMATE HAS STARTED MAKING ADVANCES
I share my flat with two others: a good, close friend I’ve known since our schooldays together, and a guy we both agreed could move in to help with the rent. We had little contact with this guy, as we all work and he was out most evenings. However, during lockdown, we’ve all been working from home, so he’s been around a lot more.
He’s started to make suggestions that he’s interested in me and even went so far as to hint that he’d like to sleep with me. I’m not in the least bit interested in him but don’t want to risk losing my home – what should I do? GW.
FIONA SAYS: IF ANYONE HAS TO LEAVE, IT SHOULD BE HIM
First, I suggest you make it very clear that you’re not interested and ask him to stop making approaches. If he does stop, all well and good, but if he persists, he should be the one to have to leave.
I don’t know whose name or names are on the lease, but please talk to your ‘close friend’ too. Your relationship, as old friends, should be much stronger than any ties either of you have to him.
Once he’s gone, and if you decide to find another third person to share your home in future, think about exactly what kind of person you want living with you. Perhaps point out that the last person was asked to leave as he persisted in his attempts to build a relationship with you. That should make it clear from the outset that it’s something you won’t put up with.
If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to [email protected] for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.