Financial assistance or manipulation?
Dear Annie: I have a family dilemma. My mother is 95 years old and still living in her own home. My wife and I see her five or more times a week and help her with household chores and getting to doctors appointments. My brother and sister also help but to a lesser extent. My father passed away last February, and my mother misses him, as you might expect.
The problem is that since Dad passed away, my younger sister has involved herself quite heavily in my mother’s financial matters. She got her name put on my mother’s checking and savings accounts. She also got her name put on my mother’s investments as a trader. These investment accounts each contain thousands of dollars.
My mother also has a will that names me, the oldest, as executor of that will. Right now it appears that I am executor of not much, as my younger sister has positioned herself as the recipient of these various accounts. This positioning took place within a few days of my father’s passing.
My wife and I believe my mother was manipulated into this situation: She was grieving and my sister took advantage. My sister explained her actions as an effort to help my mother write checks and balance her checking account, although my mother writes her own checks and balances her checking account without assistance. My mother’s will states that she wants her estate to go equally to her three children after she gives her nine grandchildren $1,000 a piece.
I don’t really want to think ill of my sister, and I keep looking for the silver lining in this matter. Maybe you can make some suggestions as to what I should do, if anything. — Concerned for Mom
Dear Concerned for Mom: Start with Mom. The next time you’re one-on-one with her, ask her open-ended questions to see how she feels about her finances. Then I would talk to your brother to see if he shares any concerns about your sister’s management of her funds. If she is siphoning money from your mothers’ accounts as you say she is, consider consulting an attorney about your options. It’s good you’re looking for the best in your sister, but it’s also wise to plan for the worst and do what you can to protect your mom from it.
Dear Annie: I have a 6-year-old son. We recently acquired 14 chicks to help take care of the tick population in our yard, and my son loves them. But our old coop is rundown and too small for all of these soon-to-be hens!
I’m a longtime reader of advice columns, and I seem to remember that years ago, a young man wrote in and asked for readers to send him a penny to help pay for college. I was wondering if my son, Tobin, could experience the far-reaching kindness of strangers to help with this problem. He loves getting the mail every day. Could folks perhaps take a moment and send a penny to a boy and his special pets? — Cooped in Connecticut
Dear Cooped in Connecticut: That young man was ahead of his time: He was crowdsourcing before online platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe and Indiegogo existed. I’d highly recommend starting a fundraiser through one of those websites. You can get your son involved in the process in many creative ways. He could create artwork about the chickens, or write a few sentences about his hopes and dreams for the new coop. Together you can spread the word in your community. Your son will not only experience the generosity of strangers but he’ll also be proud of his own contributions.
Dear Annie is written by Annie Lane, a young, married mother of two. Send questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.