Author Topic: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end  (Read 3770 times)

Mr. Green

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1974
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Wilmington, NC
Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« on: July 26, 2018, 11:36:37 AM »
TL;DR My dad is crazy and is slowing ruining the house I own that he lives in. I can't control how he lives and I can't bring myself to throw him out. We could potentially gift him the house but that gives us less flexibility than if we maintained ownership. However, the stress of what's going on is really a problem for me. I haven't been sleeping and I've had panic attacks over it. I don't know what to do.

******************

In 2012 I bought a house for my Dad to live in. He was homeless at the time. After years of his living situation being a major source of stress for me, I figured this would give him stability and restore my sanity. The house we bought wasn't perfect, it was a foreclosure, but it was solid. It needs some foundation work and some roof work but it's not falling down any time soon.

My father is disabled (physically and mentally - ADHD) but he's very smart so he's constantly tinkering with anything that he can learn something from. Over the past 6 years the house and backyard have basically turned into a messy workshop, though it resembles a junkyard to the uninformed. The things that he does have been like death by 1,000 paper cuts for the house. I'll stop by to find a hole drilled into the vinyl framing of a window to run a wire outside, or a hole drilled into a wooden exterior door to install a security camera. Dad's ADHD is severe and he readily admits he spends probably 50% of his day looking for something he can't find but he knows is laying around. This is likely a part of the reason why the place is so messy, but he's also a self-admitted slob. He knows no one is coming over to the house so he doesn't even pretend to keep it in a condition that is accommodating to guests.

For a long time I thought him doing things like drilling a hole in the window was taking advantage of his relationship with his landlord (his son) and not taking care of the property the way a tenant should. However, he will go out of his way to repair or maintain more critical things like the foundation and A/C unit without burdening me with every little thing that goes wrong. More and more I'm starting to believe that he's just eccentric or crazy and he doesn't view certain modifications or damage the way a normal person would. He's never done anything to seriously harm the structure of the house and when I've brought up smaller things in the past, like the hole in the door, he says he can easily fix it so he doesn't think it's a big deal. The thing about him "fixing" things though is that many of his fixes these days that involve finish work aren't professional grade anymore, though for anything mechanical he's still an Ace mechanic.

I used to get really upset about things like the drilling of holes in windows. However, I can't change the way he lives and I can't make myself coldblooded enough to throw him out on the streets. His income from Social Security is so small he couldn't afford to live anywhere else. So I made the decision to just let it go. I told myself as long as the place was still standing I didn't care. I also don't care about recouping the money we spent buying the place in the future. The expenditure was well worth it if it meant no longer having the kind of stress that his previously uncertain situation caused me.

Recently, my stress has returned over the deteriorating conditions in the house. It's nothing major, like the house isn't being condemned or anything even close to that, but it's the death by 1,000 paper cuts. I haven't slept well in the last few days and all I want to do is run away from the problem. I had some issues with panic attacks almost 2 years ago but my life has been blissfully wonderful recently. This is putting me back in a dark place. My primary concern is that his actions will cause us to incur unplanned expenses in order to address the cumulative effect of all his modifications/damage. At the moment we don't spend anything to improve the house because I feel like he'll probably end up damaging the improvement, and then we've just wasted money for nothing. Now that both my wife and I are no longer working, we don't want to end up in a position where we're forced to spend thousands of dollars on something that was avoidable.

One of the options on the table is for us to gift my dad the house. This would actually result in him receiving some additional assistance from the government that would allow him to have enough income for a yearly house maintenance fund. Barring him doing anything really crazy, it should be enough to cover the house's long term needs (new roof, normal maintenance, etc). If we did this it would be with the understanding that we have done everything we can for him to put him in a position to have a stable living situation. I even manage his money because the government won't allow him to manage it (disability). I think knowing the house was no longer mine would allow me to truly be at peace with the situation, and my mental health will be better as a result. However, I fear that if he somehow screws the place up really bad that I won't be cold blooded enough not to cave to further financial need.

If we give him the house, we also lose a certain amount of flexibility. My dad is on Medicaid and he needs some very expensive drugs that he couldn't afford without Medicaid. Once the house is his, he can't sell it without disqualifying himself from Medicaid for a period of time, though I can't think of a reason we would ever want to sell it. It's a rancher that already has a handicap ramp and handicap accessible bathroom, he's in a city he'll never leave, and the house is only blocks from major services like the hospital, department of social services, etc. However, if something did come up where selling the house would help him, our options might be more limited than they would be if we still owned the house. I'm forced to weigh this unknown against the benefit of him owning it creating additional money for the care and maintenance of the house, and the mental separation this will create for me that will result in removing this major source of stress in my life.

The stress affects me so greatly at times that I feel like I'd do almost anything to make it go away. I'm not sure that I can live with the status quo any longer.

terran

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2139
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2018, 11:50:12 AM »
You've committed the cardinal sin of lending money (or houses) to family. If you have the means and the desire it's fine to give such things, but but don't expect to get them back (in the condition in which you gave them). If you can do it without harming your immediate family I would seriously consider giving your dad the house, and then discuss with your spouse what (if anything) else you're willing to do/give in the future. If your dad gets the house condemned or loses it due to some financial reason will you do anything to "save" the situation, or will you let him become homeless again? That kind of thing.

If you don't want to officially give him the house, then at least try to change how you think about it such that you've already written off the value of the house from your mental balance sheet. One thing to consider in this instance is what kind of liability you might have if a neighbor kid wanders onto the property and injures themselves on one of your dad's projects.

Bird In Hand

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 584
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2018, 11:56:10 AM »
What's your wife's take on this?  Is she OK with you gifting the house to your dad?

If you've had similar issues with anxiety in the past though, then this thing with the house could be a red herring.  Inevitably something else is going to happen in your life that causes you overwhelming stress and anxiety -- and those can both incur serious tolls on your physical health, btw.  The markets have been strong since you retired 2 years ago.  How are you going to handle your ER during a prolonged bear market?

You might benefit from cognitive behavior therapy or some other form of psychotherapy to help with your anxiety.  Anxiety disorders are very real, probably more common than you think, and can be successfully treated.

magnet18

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 231
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2018, 11:57:25 AM »
It sounds like if you're in a position where you can gift him the house, you have nothing *more* to lose by letting him let it degrade severley to the point where when it is no longer needed you sell it for a complete loss (or make huge rennovations, either way)

If you gift it to him, it becomes his responsibility, but only on paper.  You still paid for it, and you manage his money, and therefore the major repairs, it kinda sounds like 6 of one half dozen of another.  If you let him manage it, your stress will be that he will bankrupt himself again, requiring you to bail him out again, so it sounds like you're better off just managing the major repairs as they come up and letting him go as is for the rest of it.

Maybe I'm missing a detail, but it sounds like by gifting it to him, you're just trying to fake yourself out psychologically, while also making things more complicated.

But if gifting him the house increases cash flow, it might be a good logical choice

SunnyDays

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 465
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2018, 12:02:34 PM »
It sounds to me like it doesn't really matter who legally owns the house - you will be responsible for it's eventual fixing up or tearing down regardless.  At this point, your father is slowly destroying the house, although with good intentions/logic on his part.  I would question why he needs to live in a house?  The purchase price and any maintenance costs you have/will incur could keep him in an apartment for a long time.  What are his physical disabilities that make him need a ramp and handicap accessible bathroom but still allow him to do so much tinkering and "fixing?"  If he really requires physical accommodations now, that will likely increase in future and maybe not allow him to live on his own anyway.  I would look for another set-up for him that will take into account his current and future needs and eliminate his ability to damage things.  So, an apartment, a rooming house, a senior's residence etc would be on my short list.  And is he taking meds for ADHD and at least doing what he can to mitigate it's effects?  Clearly you need to do something if your mental health is taking such a hit because if you're not in good shape, then you're of no help to him.  Best of luck.

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1764
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2018, 12:02:43 PM »
Honestly, it sounds like your anxiety has just settled on this very convenient target. Your dad is just like any other crummy tenant (except for the not paying rent part.) When he's done with the house, it's going to need work. If it's just stuff like holes in the door, well, it could be a lot worse.

Remember that if he owns the house and then needs a lot of assistance from Medicaid, Medicaid will get the house after his death.

patchyfacialhair

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1116
  • Age: 30
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2018, 12:07:50 PM »
I'll provide a different point of view:

You did this out of the goodness of your heart. The home is purchased. It's a sunk cost. It doesn't matter anymore.

You seem to be pretty focused on the condition of the house quite a bit. Ask yourself this: how much would it impact your finances if you just set aside all the money for repairs until about the time you expect him to pass, and just...ignore that money. That way, you can handle necessary repairs as required. You won't be anxious about him selling the house or spending all the repair money.

If that works, sure your stache will be lower but it will at least hopefully reduce your anxiety for the situation.

magnet18

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 231
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2018, 12:24:51 PM »
Honestly, it sounds like your anxiety has just settled on this very convenient target.

This.  I've noticed this in my life, and the lives of others who retired early. (I'm not FI or RE, just noticed that as I eliminate sources of stress, sometimes I can get wound up about things that used to not worry me in the slightest.  The best thing I've found in my life for this is go on a multi day backpacking trip with no cell service.  Resets the brain and gets things back in perspective.)

When you have nothing real to worry about, some people get worried about things that didn't used to matter.  Suddenly sorting the recycling and getting the trash to the curb is a stressful event for them that takes half a day every week, plus fretting about it for 2 days prior. Can't make any plans for Thursday, Thursday is trash day.  (Not joking)

I'm not at all trying to say you have nothing to worry about, I'm just making an anecdote.

Mr. Green

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1974
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Wilmington, NC
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2018, 01:37:01 PM »
What's your wife's take on this?  Is she OK with you gifting the house to your dad?

If you've had similar issues with anxiety in the past though, then this thing with the house could be a red herring.  Inevitably something else is going to happen in your life that causes you overwhelming stress and anxiety -- and those can both incur serious tolls on your physical health, btw.  The markets have been strong since you retired 2 years ago.  How are you going to handle your ER during a prolonged bear market?

You might benefit from cognitive behavior therapy or some other form of psychotherapy to help with your anxiety.  Anxiety disorders are very real, probably more common than you think, and can be successfully treated.
My wife is fine with whatever solution is best for my health. The house was inexpensive, 50k. The value of the house is in no way tired to our FI plans, net worth, etc. I already treat it as a lost cause. What I omitted from the original post is that my father and I have a lot of negative history, all the way back to my teens. He's just always been a burden. My sister might tell you he's a terrible person and she doesn't talk to him much. I, for whatever reason, have had more compassion despite our past. I think part of that is that he's not the same person he used to be. A stroke, being hit be a car, and perhaps age in general has turned him into a kinda crazy, aloof, old man. Should I punish a crippled old man for a less than stellar parenting past? Maybe I'm just more forgiving.

It's not just the house that causes stress. It's a whole lifetime of bad experiences and memories that this issue dredges up. It's also the feeling of helplessness of having no control over someone else, when that person can do things that hurt you financially. It's the surprise letters from the City citing ordinance violations and the threat of forced clean up and an accompanying lien on the place. It's the crazy ideas he has for fixing something that I then have to spend an hour arguing with him about how that doesn't actually fix the problem and potentially devalues the house even more because someone will then have to redo the work the proper way later. It's the uncertainty that at any time I could incur some hassle as a result of him being not normal and the stress that comes along with remedying the situation.

I've seen a therapist in the past and I still take anti-anxiety medication. I resolved all of my issues but this one quite some time ago. The only way I know how to 100% resolve this one is my Dad dropping over dead or figuring out a way to ice my heart. I suppose I just wish there was a 99% solution out there I was more comfortable with.

It sounds like if you're in a position where you can gift him the house, you have nothing *more* to lose by letting him let it degrade severley to the point where when it is no longer needed you sell it for a complete loss (or make huge rennovations, either way)

Maybe I'm missing a detail, but it sounds like by gifting it to him, you're just trying to fake yourself out psychologically, while also making things more complicated.

But if gifting him the house increases cash flow, it might be a good logical choice
I've tried to think about the house this way. Giving it away makes it worth zero, so even lots of destruction is worth more than zero. You're right that there's a psychological aspect to it. If we gift it to him, we can make it crystal clear that the responsibility to not destroy it is his. I'm happy to manage the money and maintenance, but it creates a clear boundary between him and me. I think I would be better able to take a hard line in denying any further financial assistance than if the asset were to remain mine because then there's a desire to maintain value in the long run, but there will be an emotional cost to that. Technically it also eliminates any liability I might have either, which is a small plus.

It does create more cash flow, almost $3,000 a year. That's almost $30,000 every decade, which would be enough to support major maintenance, and hopefully help ensure than no more money would come out of our pocket.

I would question why he needs to live in a house?  The purchase price and any maintenance costs you have/will incur could keep him in an apartment for a long time.  What are his physical disabilities that make him need a ramp and handicap accessible bathroom but still allow him to do so much tinkering and "fixing?"  If he really requires physical accommodations now, that will likely increase in future and maybe not allow him to live on his own anyway.  I would look for another set-up for him that will take into account his current and future needs and eliminate his ability to damage things.  So, an apartment, a rooming house, a senior's residence etc would be on my short list.  And is he taking meds for ADHD and at least doing what he can to mitigate it's effects?
I'd guess the house is worth 50k-70k in it's current condition. The cheapest he could rent anything around here is 750/month so the process probably wouldn't last more than a decade, and that's assuming he wouldn't get himself thrown out of any place he's rent.

He's 65 years old and, while he's in a lot of pain, his doctor says he's in great physical shape. He could live another 30 years. He could never share a place with anyone because he is so different from everyone else. He's hard of hearing, loud, says things he thinks are funny but sound crazy to others, and he's a very late night owl. For instance, he built an air compressor that uses 3 different motors out of nothing but parts so he could use it in the middle of the night without disturbing the neighbors. He fixes industrial pumps, engines, works with lithium ion batteries and LED lights. He welds and paints, uses polymers like epoxy resin. His latest thing is figuring out how to use magnetism to make ferromagnetic fluids make different shapes. He's like an off-kilter Bill Nye the Science Guy. Yet he'll spend 20 minutes trying to figure out where he left the screw driver he just put down. He can forget to turn the spigot off in the time it takes him to walk from the end of the hose to the house. And it physically takes him 15 minutes to get out of bed in the morning because his body doesn't want to work when he first wakes up.

If he didn't have a yard to walk out into (an apartment) or a place that didn't allow any of the kind of stuff that he likes to mess with, he would be the unhappiest person alive because feeding his intellectual curiosity is the only thing that really makes his physical limitations tolerable. He's been on meds for a long time and sees his doctor regularly so he's definitely doing everything he can medically to treat his conditions.

Remember that if he owns the house and then needs a lot of assistance from Medicaid, Medicaid will get the house after his death.
I've thought about this as well and there's a part of me that wonders if it isn't worth it to be able to wash my hands of any future effect to our personal finances and the mental relief that would come from that.

TheWifeHalf

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 496
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2018, 02:06:33 PM »
Technically it also eliminates any liability I might have either, which is a small plus.


I'm glad to see you realize this, however, it's a big plus in my mind. If the yard's a 'junkyard'  some little kid could get interested and get hurt. Sorry, I think of stuff like that.

Papa bear

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1212
  • Location: Ohio
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2018, 02:19:27 PM »
Can't believe I'm going to say this on these forums.  Dude. It's just money. 

There isn't anything he can do that can't be fixed or replaced. 


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

MoStache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 66
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2018, 02:39:05 PM »
I don't have anything to add on the financial aspect of this but on the emotional see if this resonates with you at all:  https://adultchildren.org/literature/laundry-list/

Ultimately, this sounds like an issue of setting healthy boundaries for yourself and getting support with that.  Setting boundaries so that you can be your best self is not "punishing a crippled old man".  You bought your Dad a house FFS!  I would absolutely recommend working through this specific issue in therapy and checking out some ACA meetings.  You don't just "fix yourself" with therapy and meds and then be good for the rest of your life (BTW, I also thought that way a few years ago).  This is an ongoing process and your wounds will be triggered and you need to process them as they come up.  Anyway, hope that helps.  I know how crappy this feels.  Good luck!

Mr. Green

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1974
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Wilmington, NC
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2018, 02:41:32 PM »
Can't believe I'm going to say this on these forums.  Dude. It's just money.
I understand how you could see it that way. There's just no way for me to adequately convey the truama that I've endured over my lifetime due to my father's financial problems and how they've affected his children. My sister doesn't avoid him for no reason.

rockeTree

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 187
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2018, 02:59:34 PM »
I’m very sympathetic to the bind you’re in. Sucks. I’m relieved that the finance part of this doesn’t make a difference to the security of your retirement.

That said I don’t think handing over the deed is going to make you feel easy about this. Dad’s a difficult guy you have a difficult history with but are obviously committed to helping for the remainder of his difficult life. There’s nothing wrong with that choice and it’s likely the best one you’ve got.

But- when it’s his house it will still be either you clean it up when it’s egregious or the city does it forcibly. I used to live around the corner from a dude like this and forced cleaning by the city is super super upsetting to the person whose mess it is. You’re not going to be willing to put him through it more than once. He’s still not going to think of the value of the house while he’s tearing it up with ill-advised projects because that’s not how he thinks. Even the liability angle is weak- any lawyer would take a run at you as his financial guardian with a plausible duty of care if something happened.

You have to find a modest zen about this or be miserable. May as well hang onto the place and have any residual value that’s left at the end. Just detach from the house to the extent that it’s not a health and safety issue. When it is a health and safety issue pay for a minimal fix whether he likes it or not. Sail on.

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3006
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2018, 03:03:48 PM »
Have you gotten treatment for ptsd? That's a whole separate thing. If you don't want to go to a therapist that specializes in ptsd you can read: The body keeps score. If there is a lien on the house and you are getting notices for forced clean up that's a really big problem.  You can't put his happiness first. If the state/county needs to clean up the house to comply with laws, that's just how it is. I suspect that part of your anxiety is trying to protect your father. But he has to deal with the consequences of his actions. Whether its having his house involuntarily cleaned up or being forced into senior living.
I don't understand why giving him the house would free up cash if you don't mind explaining.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 03:06:55 PM by mozar »

expatartist

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1783
  • Location: The Big Lychee
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2018, 03:07:52 PM »
OP I have no advice for you, just wanted to say you've been a wonderful son. You're doing your best to understand an eccentric man who hurts those who love him, and accommodating him in very sensitive ways..

former player

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4611
  • Location: Avalon
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2018, 03:13:07 PM »
One answer might be to find someone else, or more than one someone else, to act as 1) financial guardian for your father and 2) property manager for the house.  Presumably this would be for a fee, but it might be worth it to you in peace of mind.


jeninco

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1137
  • Location: .... duh?
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2018, 03:19:44 PM »
Wow.

We bought a house for my BIL to live in, for similar reasons. The difference is that my husband has always had a decent relationship with his brother -- but all the rest of the stuff is similar, up to the yard-o-crap, and the warning notice form the city. My BIL came down with a serious intramuscular infection that required him to go to the hospital (for a week) and then to skilled nursing care for a month+. My husband went up to the house to clear out a wide enough path for BIL to get a wheelchair through, and had to move a VW Van transmission out into the yard. From the living room. For which he got endless crap, because "Dude, you MOVED MY STUFF!!!"

Two big differences, though:
1. No Parent-kid issues are involved
2. BIL knows that we bought the house for him, and is actually pretty careful with it. His mental problems mean ... well, lots of stuff, including that he has a really tough time finishing tasks in his own house (the floor is 90+ % replaced with lovely bamboo, but covered with tarps, and the job never got finished, almost 10 years on), but he doesn't cause additional damage to the place.

The deal is that I almost never go up there -- he comes down and has dinner with us once every month or two, and he stops by and brings stuff from his garden sometimes. Every year I order a side of beef and give him 1/3 as a birthday present (for my birthday). He joins us for Thanksgiving, and occasionally takes us to the airport and picks us up (once or twice a year, usually in one of our cars). We put him in a place where he has access to decent mental health services, and he's close to the hospital, gym, and has mostly reasonable neighbors. He's turned a bunch of the property into a mini-farm.

It seems to me that you should find a useful therapist (or whatever) to talk with about this, because (at least in your telling) your general decent sense that the man shouldn't be out on the street to suffer from exposure is at odds with your personal history with the guy.  I also think you'd be well off to start over with a clear list of expectations for him not damaging the structure, and consequences if he does (that you're willing to follow through with). A therapist might be a useful person to help you work on this conversation.
 You can frame it as a short-to-medium term thing while you figure out where you're willing to draw the line.

And then, seriously, let it go. What's the worst-case scenario? You make it clear that he has to not damage the structure and stay out of the county's way, and he doesn't? If he loses access to that housing, he's no worse off then he was before you took him in. You might even meet proactively meet with someone who works in Senior Services to find out what would happen.

AccidentalMiser

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 659
  • Age: 51
  • Location: SE Tenn
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2018, 03:38:02 PM »
Technically it also eliminates any liability I might have either, which is a small plus.


I'm glad to see you realize this, however, it's a big plus in my mind. If the yard's a 'junkyard'  some little kid could get interested and get hurt. Sorry, I think of stuff like that.

This.  You have money, he does not.  If some neighborhood kid or someone wanders into the place and gets injured from one of his industrial projects, they are going to come after YOU for the money.

I have a similar situation with my MIL's home.  My inlaws nearly lost their home in 1999 to the tax man, plus it needed several repairs.  My FIL almost begged us to take the house with the stipulation that we would allow them to live there until death and that we would effect the needed repairs. 

Fast-forward 18 years.  My FIL is long since dead.  My MIL has just had knee surgery and can't navigate the many stairs in the home very well.  My evil sisters in law and their idiot kids eat her food, take her money, use her [I mean my] house as a combo kennel and storage unit.  Anyway, I'd give it back to my MIL in a minute but my wife doesn't want to do that, since she would either lose it to the tax man again or my evil SILs would wind up with it. 

I have a little better situation than you do because the people who are pissing me off don't actually live in the house and will move their dogs and boats/trucks/waterbeds/jetskis/outboard motors/junk cars/etc. etc. if I demand they do so or pay storage fees.  I just can't seem to get away to deal with it just yet.

You're a good son, Mr. Green.  I would gift the house to him (watch those gift taxes) as soon as possible and take an oath not to get too involved in his financial situation again.

arob54600

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Saint Louis
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2018, 03:56:37 PM »
I disagree that it's just money.
We all have money here and money can fix a lot. But having money can also put a target on your back, all of a sudden you're "everyone's safety net".
Icky interpersonal family relationships can psych us out. When you love someone but they can't or won't take care of them selves, it's exhausting.

I love my mother in law. But she never ever saved any money (and is a hoarder) and we worry regularly (once/twice a year) that she is going to be homeless. Right now she is being taking care of by the middle brother in the family, I can tell he hates it.
This is a situation that we can't fix and life goes on. And maybe that is the hardest and saddest part, realizing that something can't be "fixed"

Anyway, I really do empathize with you. I sometimes think about buying a home for my MIL, but I know it would just be slowly ruined (like the last 3 houses) and with it, our relationship.

austin944

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 109
  • Age: 57
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2018, 07:55:09 PM »
Is there room to put a cheap travel trailer or tiny house on the land and move him in there, and then fix up/rent out the main house?  Perhaps the zoning restrictions would disallow something like that...  just trying to brain-storm some ideas.

Mr. Green

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1974
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Wilmington, NC
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2018, 08:29:44 PM »
I don't understand why giving him the house would free up cash if you don't mind explaining.
He receives food stamps because of how poor he is. The amount will go up if he owns a house. He will also re-qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because his Social Security check is so small. The county will also waive the property taxes on his house based on income. So his income will go up about $50 a month, he'll receive another $70-ish a month in food assistance, and he'll no longer pay $1,100 a year in property taxes (I have him pay that now). I've become pretty deft at stretching his money as far as I possibly can due to necessity (which I have only accomplished with the help of government assistance). Managing his money is actually cathartic for me because after half a lifetime of picking up the phone and wondering if I'm going to be asked for financial assistance I know exactly what's going on with his money and can ensure all the bills are paid.

But- when itís his house it will still be either you clean it up when itís egregious or the city does it forcibly. I used to live around the corner from a dude like this and forced cleaning by the city is super super upsetting to the person whose mess it is. Youíre not going to be willing to put him through it more than once. Heís still not going to think of the value of the house while heís tearing it up with ill-advised projects because thatís not how he thinks. Even the liability angle is weak- any lawyer would take a run at you as his financial guardian with a plausible duty of care if something happened.
Thankfully we've never had the City actually come in and force clean. We've received notices on several occasions and he managed to clean up enough that it satisfied the squeaky wheel that caused the complaint. He's made it a point to be friendly with all his immediate neighbors so that helps. People are more likely to tolerate something if they like you.

As far as liability goes, we've taken steps to solidify that. He carries $300,000 in liability insurance as a renter and we have another $300,000 in liability insurance as the landlord. We've considered getting an umbrella as well but haven't pulled the trigger so far.

Is there room to put a cheap travel trailer or tiny house on the land and move him in there, and then fix up/rent out the main house?  Perhaps the zoning restrictions would disallow something like that...  just trying to brain-storm some ideas.
Unfortunately this probably isn't an option because of the lot size. It's downtown on .15 acres. There's definitely room for a garage at the back alley, many of the lots on his block have one, but a full flight of stairs to reach an apartment above the garage would be murder for his pain levels.

Paul der Krake

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4611
  • Age: 11
  • Location: USA
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2018, 08:48:43 PM »
Crappy situation all around.

Let go of the house. If he neglects it, he gets to live in whatever is left of it. If it's in a temperate climate, that means he can virtually destroy it and still live whatever is still standing. Fulfill your guardianship duties with the cold detachment of someone with no vested interest in the outcome. And verify you cannot be held liable by virtue of remaining his guardian.

Hargrove

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 717
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2018, 10:13:50 PM »
Why so much guilt?

I don't think the stress is the house; it's the guilt. You describe the house as being pretty irrelevant. Its condition is immaterial to your retirement unless you go nuts renovating it (solution: don't do that). You describe its loss as relatively unimportant (great!). You describe the damage as mostly non-critical (helpful!). Yet, you worry about its destruction. You throw in that he could want to sell it, immediately after you explain it's obviously his very best bet and he shouldn't ever want to sell it.

If you have an anxiety problem, "stop worrying" is not helpful advice, so the next advice is: continue therapy, and reduce your exposure to toxic or traumatic stress. Many anxiety issues come from an inability to escape a terrifying sense of expectation, and yet you're racing to assign expectations to yourself.

You have options. Try to identify the source of guilt in therapy and unwind it, and manage stress by not climbing into pressure cookers. You know that guilt regarding your father's care will keep you up at night. That would be my primary argument, the moment you were about to take over his finances, to not not not not not do it. I am skeptical when you say it's cathartic - I doubt it's healthy, even if it seems like it's helping you. It sounds, rather, like how someone behaves in an abusive relationship.

Basically, the dependency feeds your ability to blame yourself for not taking care of him well enough, which is exactly what you're doing here, and you're fooling yourself into thinking "if I just take care of him well enough, I'll feel ok!" But - that's not the issue, so it won't help you feel better. Even though no one suggested anything like eviction, you were ready to beat yourself up repeatedly about being "cold blooded" and "ice hearted" to him. You know in your head that's not right, I think, but you can't feel it, and that feeling is not something anyone here can advise you on. Anxiety and guilt often play a game together, where one protects the other by going between a set of binary extremes and ignoring all moderate alternatives. The result is panic. But of course you came to the extreme conclusion - you only set yourself two extreme conclusions to reach in the first place. These conclusions are either that you're a bad caregiver or that you're doomed never to sleep again, and neither is true.

Logistically, you sound like you're in decent shape. You bought something you say doesn't matter to you, and which will be destroyed with little consequence - if that's true, exhale. You're done. You won the game in spite of your father, the termite. But please consider not being in charge of his finances. You have done overwhelmingly more for this man financially than many people would recommend, and you've done it despite a rocky past. Setting boundaries will be necessary for your mental health, because right now, you have set yourself up for a guilt trap you can't emancipate yourself from until you acknowledge that boundaries are ok, and that your father may be able to defeat your efforts to help him. Full stop.

Forgive yourself for needing boundaries. Set the boundaries. Disentangle yourself from his finances. You cannot help someone "so adequately" that they can't undo your help. You can't help someone so well that fortune will be unable to frown at them anyway. The only major thing you're missing is perspective on how much you've already done. Good luck.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 10:30:52 PM by Hargrove »

sassyfrassy244

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2018, 05:06:39 PM »


 The cheapest he could rent anything around here is 750/month so the process probably wouldn't last more than a decade, and that's assuming he wouldn't get himself thrown out of any place he's rent.

He's 65 years old and, while he's in a lot of pain, his doctor says he's in great physical shape. He could live another 30 years. He could never share a place with anyone because he is so different from everyone else. He's hard of hearing, loud, says things he thinks are funny but sound crazy to others, and he's a very late night owl.

Have you gotten him on the list for subsidized senior housing in your community?  The rent will be income based so it will be affordable for him regardless of his income.  There will likely be a long wait list, but, perhaps knowing there is an eventual end to the current situation will reduce some of your current anxiety. 

Spendy Stache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2018, 09:40:29 AM »
The situation just sounds awful. DH and I have discussed buying a house for his mom once his dad passes, but we already know she would be an amazing tenant who respects the property and takes good care of things.

I guess the one thing I would echo from others is that because you already consider the house a sunken cost, it doesn't really matter whether you gift it to feel better, or plan on selling it "as is" once your dad is done using it. If it's not tied to your financial plan, in either case, you should just pick the option that you know will make you feel better and then be confident that you did all you could to help. You can't fix your dad's issues.

It sounds like your dad has something other than severe ADHD. Are you sure that's an accurate diagnosis?

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3006
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2018, 11:37:04 AM »
It sounds like he is perfectly capable of taking care of the house if he feels like it. He cleans up the house when threatened by the city and makes friends with his neighbors. The issue here is your anxiety not him.

Finances_With_Purpose

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 664
    • Finances With Purpose: deploying resources wisely to live vigorously
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2018, 03:00:54 AM »
You've committed the cardinal sin of lending money (or houses) to family. If you have the means and the desire it's fine to give such things, but but don't expect to get them back (in the condition in which you gave them). If you can do it without harming your immediate family I would seriously consider giving your dad the house, and then discuss with your spouse what (if anything) else you're willing to do/give in the future. If your dad gets the house condemned or loses it due to some financial reason will you do anything to "save" the situation, or will you let him become homeless again? That kind of thing.

If you don't want to officially give him the house, then at least try to change how you think about it such that you've already written off the value of the house from your mental balance sheet. One thing to consider in this instance is what kind of liability you might have if a neighbor kid wanders onto the property and injures themselves on one of your dad's projects.

This.

Meanwhile, read this book.  (Free at most libraries.)  It's essential for things like this. 

You have a wife and kids, and your first obligation is to them.  Plus, you have your own health and well-being to look out for.

It's not selfish or "cold-blooded" to ensure you're taking care of yourself enough to get through life decently - it's what we all have to do.  And I say that as someone with a profound care for family who prioritizes family relationships. 

If you doubt these principles at all, just ask someone who has a close relative who's an addict, a serious criminal, or so on.  Those family members have had to learn these things by force, just as you're learning it by pushing yourself until you can't take the pain (rather than putting in some healthy boundaries).

Also, @Hargrove is on point as well. 

Finally, a parting thought: you may think you're helping your dad, but doing what you are doing may be teaching him codependency or hurting him in other ways.  This book has a great overview of those ideas (as applied to charity) which may have some application here.  But the point is: we often think we're helping people, when, in fact, we're holding them back from growing and learning to deal with things - including some tough consequences.

That's muddier in your particular situation, perhaps, since your father seems to suffer from some mental disabilities, but I wouldn't assume that the level of help you're giving him is actually helping him without hurting him some, too. 

In the west, we tend to assume - all too quickly - that providing material resources to someone is actually helping them when it might be leading to poverty in other areas (spiritual, emotional, etc.).

There are a lot of problems in life that no amount of resources can fix or ever get you to a point where you like the solution...some things are just difficult because we live in a world full of troubles.

chasesfish

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3204
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Texas
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2018, 06:15:30 AM »
I don't have too much to add except this:  I'm really sorry for what you're going through.  My dad and step-mom did almost the same thing for his mother in law, except one step worse and bought her house from her, which came with all the family drama and emotions of "you're stealing mom's money"

I've got a big family and I've been part of cleaning out four elderly people's homes after their passing, all of which they lived in right up until their passing.  You have to accept the house will only be in a condition to sell to an investor/wholesaler once they're done with the property.   Your dad and most other elderly people just lack the mental capacity or desire to properly care for a home.  Eventually other things, primarily their health, become more important.

I think the burden you're feeling is more about your dad and less about the property.  The property is just an outlet.  As you said the money is irrelevant.

I'm beginning to watch this with my in-laws.  I'm thrilled they are caring for their house today now that my FIL retired, but I can't see it continuing at this pace.  He just isn't healthy/motivated enough to do it. 

As a side note, the ONLY people I've seen do this right are my still-living grandparents who retired in the late 1990s.  In my grandfather's last job move (an engineer by trade), he insisted they buy a brand new house.  It is twenty years old now, they are nearly 80, but have a house with almost nothing wrong with it and only small things starting to break.  They also did a few corporate moves and weren't as tied to their "stuff" as most people their age.

Freedom2016

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 619
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2018, 11:31:38 AM »
One answer might be to find someone else, or more than one someone else, to act as 1) financial guardian for your father and 2) property manager for the house.  Presumably this would be for a fee, but it might be worth it to you in peace of mind.

This is exactly what I was thinking as I read the thread. A solution like this might (literally) buy you more peace of mind. You would still be providing appropriate care (which sounds very important to you), while giving you clearer boundaries, fewer explicit 'responsibilities', and overall less entanglement and anxiety.

Mezzie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 818
    • Mezzie Learns
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #30 on: August 03, 2018, 12:23:26 PM »
Have you gotten treatment for ptsd? That's a whole separate thing. If you don't want to go to a therapist that specializes in ptsd you can read: The body keeps score. If there is a lien on the house and you are getting notices for forced clean up that's a really big problem.  You can't put his happiness first. If the state/county needs to clean up the house to comply with laws, that's just how it is. I suspect that part of your anxiety is trying to protect your father. But he has to deal with the consequences of his actions. Whether its having his house involuntarily cleaned up or being forced into senior living.
I don't understand why giving him the house would free up cash if you don't mind explaining.
The Body Keeps the Score is an excellent book. There are some suggestions in there for a variety of therapies to seek out that help work through trauma.

I really like the idea above of hiring a property manager if tgat's a possibility as I think (though I am no lawyer) that could lessen your liability.

You're doing the best you can, and that's all anyone can do. I hooe you find a solution you can be at peace with.

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3015
  • Age: 81
  • Location: The laboratory
  • Typical Ghoul Next Door
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #31 on: August 03, 2018, 12:58:18 PM »
I come from a pretty dysfunctional family. Also, hoarders!

I have major anxiety and depression and my therapist does think I have PTSD.

Here's my take on this.

You tried to do right by your father, but he's not a very nice person and has taken total advantage of you. He doesn't care if this situation causes you stress, anxiety, costs you money or get you in trouble with the city/health department or get sued by neighbors.

I'd say at this point, if you truly can't seem to find your way to saying enough is enough just yet, you have a sit down with him. Tell him that he has 6 months to get the house/grounds in normal conditions - remove all trash, junk and debris inside and out, get yard/grounds presentable enough to look like an average maintained property, get things fixed TO CODE, or make a list of things he can't fix so you know what you're dealing with. And above all, no more fucking around with the house or grounds - he can play with his little projects, but they can't involve anything structurally or cosmetically with the property itself. And then going forward, you're going to do monthly checks on the house inside and out to make sure he's maintaining it. He needs to keep things clean and tidy and maintain the entire property as if he was renting the house from a stranger that could kick his ass to the curb.

The first time he violates this agreement - whether it is by a surprise letter from the city about something that has been reported or you see stuff on a walk-through - then he is no longer allowed to live there and must find new housing and you are going to put the house up for sale. Do help him fill out all the necessary papers/procedures to find subsidized housing, but he gets no more chances.

He has taken extreme advantage of you for your entire life. You owe him nothing. He should be grateful and doing his best to maintain that property if he wanted to continue to be allowed to collect and tinker and make messes. So give him one more chance, lay out the rules for this chance and advise him that the ball literally is in his court. He either starts treating this property AND YOU with respect, or he goes away. You can still help him out, but you'll no longer be liable for his messes.

You have all the power. Don't give it away any more. It is one thing to help out a relative out of love and respect, but he's given you neither, and you certainly don't owe him for the chance act of being born or out of the misguided hope that someday your father will wake the fuck up and suddenly realize how badly he's wronged you and finally get the relationship you hoped for if you just keep trying to be the best son you can be... it's never going to be enough, and you don't need his approval. So take back control, realize you don't have to be responsible for another adult's poor life skills and choices, and give yourself permission to get out from under this mess. You are not the bad guy for laying down some rules and possibly having to enforce them. He is a bad guy for taking such terrible advantage of you.

MKinVA

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 265
Re: Need some mustachian advice - feel like I'm at wit's end
« Reply #32 on: August 03, 2018, 09:44:53 PM »
You may need to head back to the therapist on this one. It's not the money...it's not the house. It's what happens if he can't live in the house any longer. Either he gets kicked out because the city/county condemns it as uninhabitable, or he can't physically take care of himself any more. Do you take him in? Isn't that what you have set yourself up for? You are his caretaker, he lives in a house you own, whether you give him the house or not. What happens next? That's your problem. And that is what your anxiety is about.

I have a lot of experience with close family members and severe ADHD. You have my sympathy.