Author Topic: Case Study:You Need to Plan for Getting Old (& what can happen when you don't!)  (Read 5003 times)

Hunny156

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Where to begin?  And how not to make this so long that no one reads it?  I donít know, but thereís a lot to learn here, so Iím going to try.  Here it goes!

Looking back, there was a lot of mental illness, probably narcissism.  Definitely manipulation, love = money, stuff like that.  Not to mention physical and emotional abuse Ė the thing I remember most about childhood was always being scared of my Mom and her moods.  In my later years, Mom admitted she didnít want kids, but Dad said they had to, b/c ďwho would take care of them when they were older?Ē  The irony of my Dadís statement and my Momís admittance of not wanting kids really helped a lot Ė I can see why she was a less than stellar mom, she didnít want to be one and she quickly learned that manipulating the two of us against each other to curry favor with her was a way to have us parent ourselves.  Given how much we have both gone through, Iím still amazed that we both grew up, at least in our early adult lives, to be well rounded and functional adults, with no addictions to alcohol or drugs to get us through that childhood. 

We were both favored, in our own ways.  Mom preferred my sister b/c she was prettier than I, and she thrived on getting me in trouble to continue staying in Momís good graces, even making things up, or staging things so I could be blamed for it.  As we got older, I excelled in school and wasnít boy crazy, so I gained points where my sister lost them.  I remember that feeling, it was so great to finally be on the good side!  Looking back, I can also understand how hard that fall from grace had to have been for my sister, and why she blamed me for it.  I think this is what laid the groundwork for what came next.

My parents did well for themselves as first generation immigrants who didnít assimilate very much.  They also shared this ability to be offended by the slightest thing, so friends and family were often on the disowned list.  My sister & I both spent time on that list too!  Being so isolated, I think it made it easier for them to ignore certain issues, like my sisterís amazingly bad math skills, and her ďfailure to launchĒ.  I had friends with similar parents, so when I heard about lawyers and trusts and protecting the family wealth from the government, I suggested my parents look into it, and they did.  A trust was recommended, but spending $5K was something they were unwilling to spend, and like many older folks, they just figured they had plenty of time, and things would work themselves out.  They were so very, very wrong!

Dad had a quick battle with cancer, leaving Mom behind with an unexpected surprise for us.  She had early onset dementia, and he had been covering for her.  Her battle was long and slow, eventually resulting in a 10 year period of assisted living and nursing homes. 6 months prior to her move into assisted living, my sister contacted me last minute, alerting me to an attorney she had hired, who was making a house call the next morning, documents in hand, to protect the assets. I was days away from a long distance move myself, so the sense of urgency made sense, and I agreed to show up and sign where needed.  I take full responsibility for my mistakes here Ė I trusted my sister more than I should have, I signed documents I barely had a chance to look over, and the one ďfishyĒ document where I did ask a question, I accepted the ridiculous answer I was given, keenly aware that Mom was looking at me for assurance that she should be signing.  I believe she didnít have a clue what she signed, but on some level, she knew to trust me, and I let her down in that regard.  The lawyer clearly knew what she was doing Ė she even brought her young kids to the house to further distract Mom.  Doesnít matter, we lived and Mom died by those documents, proving that she was incompetent to sign them in the first place proved impossible to do after the fact.

My move turned out to be beneficial for my Momís long term finances, b/c when she did move into assisted living, the cost of care was significantly more reasonable where I was living.  Within a year, I discovered an even better solution for her, at an even lower cost, and she spent nearly 8 years in a loving environment near my home.  My sister was absent for years, which didnít surprise me.  It was an uphill battle to get her to move into the accessory apartment in Momís home, so we could rent the majority of the home and use those funds to pay for Momís care, but eventually she did it, on her own terms, taking over a larger share of the house for her personal use, which I discovered later.  It was a sign of the greediness to come.  Within a year she stopped communicating with me and closed all the bank accounts and opened new ones I was not privy too, and stopped paying for Momís care out of Momís assets.  Several attorneys would not take the case Ė too expensive, too complicated, uncertain that the results would work in our favor due to the documents we had signed.  (We shared Power of Attorney (POA), which is horrible, b/c we can work together or not, 50/50 control is useless in these situations).  The assisted living facility stepped in with the ultimate threat Ė continue paying or we will bring Mom back to you.  It worked, she paid, and for about 6 years, we continued in this fashion, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I focused on making sure Mom was getting good care, and figured at some point after her death, we'd hash out the rest.

For reasons unknown to me, my sister proceeded to move to the same general area as me several years later.  I know she had struggled for years to keep herself employed, so perhaps this was a reason for the move, but it was an unwise move Ė she did no better at finding steady work, and now she had rent to pay, where at home she lived rent free.  Early last year a text message was sent to the assisted living facility, claiming all funds had been spent, the family home was for sale, and that no further payments would be made till the home sold.  Part of the documents we signed included transferring the home into both our names, again 50/50, but with Mom retaining a life estate, so the house could not be sold until Mom passed.  I knew the house could not be for sale, just more lies and deceit from my sister.  I consulted another attorney, and proceeded with a lawsuit to obtain accounting records and control of the family home, as well as sole control on the POA.  I also hired a local property manager to assist, and we gained access to the home, discovering in the process that it had been sitting vacant for nearly a year.  Fully rented, this house, in a HCOL area, could easily gross $60K/year, more than enough to continue caring for Mom AND for my sister to continue siphoning some funds for her benefit.  I will never understand why she did this Ė it was her personal cash cow, and the dire straits she was in could easily be solved by a For Rent sign!  While this was going on, my Mom was unceremoniously dragged out of her loving facility early one morning by my sister, and taken to a Medicaid nursing home with horrible reviews.  It would be 4 months before I was able to find her through her Medicare/Medicaid records; once I got access, it was as easy as reading the EOBís and seeing who was getting paid for her care.

My sister had been contemplating her next steps for months prior to all this, slowly paying a Bankruptcy Mill their service fee.  Getting served with my lawsuit was the perfect time to execute that plan, and she filed the day before our court date, putting a stay of execution on my lawsuit.  From there, we proceeded to Bankruptcy court to resolve all the issues.  She originally filed Chap 13, played games with the court dates, and eventually came to learn that she could not force the sale of the house with this filing.  I began to view her records from the filing, and was shocked at how bad things had gotten.  Between unemployment and really low paying temp work, she averaged $20K/year in income.  Her expenses would be breakeven at a $75K/yr salary, and she had made no efforts to cut back her spending as my Momís funds began to wane.  She had also racked up six figures in credit card debt.  Her only assets were an older vehicle and an IRA, which really made her judgement proof Ė there really was no need to file for bankruptcy!  Both my (latest & very expensive) specialty lawyer & I were even more shocked when she made another terrible decision, she filed for Chap 7.  She didnít live in the house, so it was not a protected asset, and this is where I learned a LOT about how bankruptcy courts work.

Once you file for Chapter 7 and a trustee is assigned, thatís it, thereís no going back.  If you try to get out of it, you lose all protections of bankruptcy, AND they still get to liquidate your assets to pay off your creditors.  Most people who file for Chap 7 donít have any assets to lose, so other than the filing fees and the legal fee, itís pretty cut and dried.  You attend a meeting with your trustee to review the files provided, you attend two short online courses on finances, and at the end, one final meeting to wrap it all up and give you a clean slate.  In this case, with a sizeable asset in play, the courts went on a spending spree.  The trustee, who is a lawyer, hired a lawyer to represent her.  She later hired a lawyer to handle the closing on the house, and she also hired a forensic CPA to recreate the books and file tax returns as needed.  The trustee earns a 5% commission on the assets of the bankruptcy too.  All of this will be deducted from my sisterís share of the assets.  Oh, and those creditors?  Their unsecured debt is now secured, thanks to this incredibly stupid move to Chap 7.

I can now say with certainty that Mom was still alive when the Chap 7 proceedings began, and I assumed that the life estate would protect her.  Plus, I didnít want to sell, and Iím not filing bankruptcy, so they canít force me to sell, right?  Not true.  Everything is subjective in bankruptcy court!  First we were facing an auction sale.  I attempted to make a low bid for my sisterís share, but all those lawyers knew what the asset could be worth, so that didnít fly.  Then they filed a motion to sell the house and split the proceeds 3 ways, the IRS has tables for that sort of thing, so based on Momís age, sheíd get a small share.  I filed a motion to object, pointing out that my Mom needed the rental income to move her back to the assisted living facility, and a small payoff from the sale of the house would not suffice.  I was accused of putting my interests ahead of my Mom Ė I get it, lawyers have to say anything to support their case, but in light of all this, that one really hurt.  In the end, it was clear that I had no leg to stand on Ė I didnít live there, sentimental value means nothing, and continuing to fight is a losing battle Ė emotionally and financially.  We would fix and sell the house.

Adding to her bills, my sister continued to play games with the court, lying under oath, failing to meet deadlines for discovery documents, fabricating medical issues as a reason to delay proceedings.  All of these efforts were met with more motions and orders and eventually court dates, where she was held in contempt of court and forced to return daily until she produced all her records.  While there is some satisfaction in this, think of the attorney fees all around, as my attorney also was called in as the representative for Mom & I, so her actions cost us both a great deal of money.  Based on all these secrets coming out, we discovered that she had been lying to the local property tax assessor about my Mom still living in the home, and they (rightfully) rewarded us with a tax bill that tripled.  Plus penalties and interest, since I could not take the risk of paying the tax bills without protection from a court order to guarantee I would be reimbursed for half when the property was liquidated.  We also had some serious issues with that accessory apartment and the other changes my sister had made to the home so she could have more space, so I eventually was able to negotiate a ďdealĒ where I covered all carrying costs and repair costs until the house sold, but was reimbursed for half at closing.  This whole mess dragged on for 1.5 years, and I have a six figure bill to prove it.  My legal costs are my own to bear, and when Mom passed away right before we listed the house, we had to go back and renegotiate everything, as the POA and life estate were now moot, so the percentages and the dollar amounts all changed, and you need to file a motion for that too, plus get a court order to approve it.  You need court orders the whole way through the sale, Iím so thankful that the buyers were willing to wade through this extended closing with us.  That being said, if I had more control over the house, I would have invested a bit into updating the kitchens and baths, and sold the house for 30% more, so the buyers are well aware of the deal they got.  Iím happy for them, I wish them the best life in their new home, and Iím sure it will be an amazing asset for them in the future.

Another interesting tidbit is that in a Chap 7 bankruptcy, the trustee becomes the owner of all assets, so my sister wasnít involved at all.  The trustee and I signed all the documents as co-owners of the house.  And since the house had been titled over to my sister and I, this wasnít an inheritance, it was a gift, which is now subject to Federal and State taxes.  For me, but not for my sister, b/c thereís some statute out there that exempts a bankruptcy estate from paying taxes, so think about that while your being responsible with your finances!  The government in this case rewards bad behavior!

I think Iíve covered all the big points and learnings, but Iím open to questions.  Iím also not unique, as seen by the many posts on the Inheritance thread.  My part of this mess is over, my sister has a while to go before the lawyers and CPAís are done with her.  I believe there will be a final accounting posted to her bankruptcy filing, and if Iím right, Iíll update here.  Itís a very sad story, all the hard work and sacrifice of my parents is mostly squandered.  They are very much responsible for this; their inaction caused this.  I did the best I could given the situation, and Iím grateful that being a Mustachian is what even allowed me to take on this very expensive battle.  Had I been allowed to manage the finances for my Mom, I estimate that she would have died with nearly $2 million in assets.  Instead, the house was worth about 1/4th that amount, and after my expenses and taxes are paid, my ďinheritanceĒ is worth maybe 5% of what it could/should have been.  That is a TON of elder abuse and asset mismanagement!  But sadly, not illegal.  POAís are powerful tools, and in the wrong hands, they can do a ton of damage.

SwordGuy

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Wow.  Simply wow.

Thanks for being a good, decent human being and doing your best.  It's all anyone can ask.

I'm told my sister in law tried something shady about 20 years ago.  Tried to get her mom to sign over the mom's house to her.   Made up some flimsy excuse about the year 99 bug and disasters soon to happen.  Thankfully her mom didn't fall for it.

I bet she would have either sold it out from under her mom or gotten a heloc on it and then not paid it back.

Hunny156

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Wow.  Simply wow.

Thanks for being a good, decent human being and doing your best.  It's all anyone can ask.

I'm told my sister in law tried something shady about 20 years ago.  Tried to get her mom to sign over the mom's house to her.   Made up some flimsy excuse about the year 99 bug and disasters soon to happen.  Thankfully her mom didn't fall for it.

I bet she would have either sold it out from under her mom or gotten a heloc on it and then not paid it back.

I had plenty of reasons to turn my back, but someone had to stand up for the helpless old woman.  I appreciate you saying so, it was the right thing to do.  I sleep fine at night, you know?

Sadly, once someone dies or gets old enough to be manipulated, that's when you really find out what people are like.  Greed in these cases is utterly toxic.

Dicey

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As long as this post was, I am sure it is the tip of the iceberg. I am so sorry you had to waste so much of your own life energy because of your sister's inability to stand on her own two feet. Much as it sucks, better to be the one with ace life skills, much as it hurts. Sorry about the loss of your parents.

Hunny156

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As long as this post was, I am sure it is the tip of the iceberg. I am so sorry you had to waste so much of your own life energy because of your sister's inability to stand on her own two feet. Much as it sucks, better to be the one with ace life skills, much as it hurts. Sorry about the loss of your parents.

Yes, I could easily write a book, but I won't.  I've mostly made my peace with it all, and I'm moving forward and not looking back.  I saw your post on the other thread, I'm sorry that you have a sister similar to mine; it just illustrates how sadly common this type of behavior is.

Thanks for your sympathies, I'm sorry about the loss of your parents too.

remizidae

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So did you wind up profiting at all from the inheritance, after your legal bills, taxes, other expenses? If you could do it again, would you just walk away?

(Iím so grateful I have no relationship with my parents! They know theyíre on their own.)

Hunny156

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So did you wind up profiting at all from the inheritance, after your legal bills, taxes, other expenses? If you could do it again, would you just walk away?

(Iím so grateful I have no relationship with my parents! They know theyíre on their own.)

Yes, I came out ahead, thankfully, by a small margin, which is already working hard on growing and becoming a positive outcome to this mess. 

I don't think it would have been right to walk away, someone had to stand up for the defenseless old woman who was in the middle of this mess, and had I not been involved, the house would have sold at an even larger discount due to the "improvements" that my sister had made.  I just wish the legal part would have moved faster, so I could have gotten the proceeds before Mom died.  If it had been at all possible for her to pass away in the assisted living facility that really cared for her, that's the only thing I would have changed.

marty998

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So did you wind up profiting at all from the inheritance, after your legal bills, taxes, other expenses? If you could do it again, would you just walk away?

(Iím so grateful I have no relationship with my parents! They know theyíre on their own.)

Yes, I came out ahead, thankfully, by a small margin, which is already working hard on growing and becoming a positive outcome to this mess. 

I don't think it would have been right to walk away, someone had to stand up for the defenseless old woman who was in the middle of this mess, and had I not been involved, the house would have sold at an even larger discount due to the "improvements" that my sister had made.  I just wish the legal part would have moved faster, so I could have gotten the proceeds before Mom died.  If it had been at all possible for her to pass away in the assisted living facility that really cared for her, that's the only thing I would have changed.

This is a really tragic story. My condolences Hunny156.

Really curious to know if the sister understands she has fucked up or simply doesn't care. Was there ever a moment where the light switched on in her head, or does she still maintain it was all inevitable or our of her control or whatever....

BabyShark

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Just wanted to add my admiration for you and how you stepped up.

Hunny156

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OMG, I checked the case this morning, and the trustee's lawyer has been busy submitting his final bill.  I was guesstimating $35K, but he's asking for $39K.  There's also another hand written "fee summary" page, and if those numbers are remotely correct, my sister is basically walking away with 3.5% of what the house sold for.  WOW!  I knew they would rake her over the coals, but I had no idea it would be to this extent!!

I don't think she has been paying attention - the case has over 100 filings, many of them are 30, 40, 50+ pages long, and I highly doubt she's been opening the mail as they are snail mailing it all to her.  Now, I haven't spoken to her in 6+ years, and I never will, but my gut is that she doesn't realize her mistakes, and when it's all over, she'll blame me for it.  It's her standard MO.

former player

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I'm sorry for your troubles, and pleased to hear that they are nearly all over.

One thing I've learnt over the years is that if someone can't explain something to me so that I can understand then there is something wrong with what they are proposing: either they don't understand it themselves, or it doesn't make sense in the first place, or they are deliberately trying to confuse or deceive me.

GizmoTX

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It's so sad that your mother didn't benefit. At least it's over.

Hunny156

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It's so sad that your mother didn't benefit. At least it's over.

Yes, that part still troubles me.  My therapist reminded me that although I wanted her to be back in the nice, comfortable place, my Mom was probably so far gone that she would be suffering in either environment, so it was more my concern and not really hurting her.  There's probably some validity in that statement, but either way, I'm glad that it is over for her.  She suffered for nearly two decades with dementia - it is something I would not wish on my worst enemy!

Hula Hoop

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  She suffered for nearly two decades with dementia - it is something I would not wish on my worst enemy!

I'm really sorry about your mother's suffering and this horrible story with your sister.  The whole thing is so very sad.

Bernard

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I'm an immigrant as well (Grandfather Danish, Dad Swedish, mom German).
In 1986 I moved to Florida, in 1991 to California.

So here's my story:
My dad and mom built a great business from scratch. At age 50-or-so he decided to slow down. In order to get retirement benefits in Europe, he wanted to work as an employee for a few years. So he sold the business to my younger brother for $10K, with the understanding that on the outside nothing would change.

Just a few months later, my brother fired first my mom (who worked in the office), then my dad, for no other reason than that he's a selfish a**hole.
Since it was a family transaction, they never made a water-proof contract. This broke my parents' hearts and from that time on they lived off their life savings, had to sell off all 4 rental apartments they owned in Spain, one by one, then part of their home (separating top level from ground level), and close to the end of my mom's life, they sold their remaining share in the home to the guys who bought the upstairs part, in return for money and free occupancy for life.

After my brother shafted my parents, they changed their will so that I would become the sole heir. Yet a few years after my mom died, my brother weaseled his way back into my dad' life, and as he got senile, and unbeknown to me, had a notary come to the house so that the will was changed back to 50/50 splits between my brother and me.

In 2017, my younger brother (heavy smoker and drinker) had a massive heart attack at age 56, and eventually he died in the hospital. A good time to mention that he had two grown children from two women, both of whom were total losers in life. He wanted nothing to do with them. But despite his sleazy approach to change my dad's will back, he was too stupid to have his own will. So the two children he disliked so much, got it all, including the family business! First thing they did was throw my brother's fiance out of the house!

My dad, now aged 86 and heartbroken, had another stroke a few months later. I flew to Europe to be with him, and it was a sad chapter of my life. He was unable to communicate, half of his brain useless, but he squeezed my hand and I felt he understood me. I know he wanted to die, but it took a great legal effort 'til the hospitals (plural) allowed this to happen.

Only after he was dead I learned about the changed will. Since my brother was dead, the two children he disliked so much got his 50% of the estate. While that was not much anymore, they made as much a fuzz of it all as humanly possible. In the end, I got tired of it, and decided not to claim my part. It was the last time I was in Europe, and even thinking about it makes me very, very sad.

frugalecon

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This story made me think of Jarndyce and Jarndyce (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jarndyce_and_Jarndyce).

Sounds like you did your best to do right by your mom. Thatís worth a lot.

cloudsail

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I'm an immigrant as well (Grandfather Danish, Dad Swedish, mom German).
In 1986 I moved to Florida, in 1991 to California.

So here's my story:
My dad and mom built a great business from scratch. At age 50-or-so he decided to slow down. In order to get retirement benefits in Europe, he wanted to work as an employee for a few years. So he sold the business to my younger brother for $10K, with the understanding that on the outside nothing would change.

Just a few months later, my brother fired first my mom (who worked in the office), then my dad, for no other reason than that he's a selfish a**hole.
Since it was a family transaction, they never made a water-proof contract. This broke my parents' hearts and from that time on they lived off their life savings, had to sell off all 4 rental apartments they owned in Spain, one by one, then part of their home (separating top level from ground level), and close to the end of my mom's life, they sold their remaining share in the home to the guys who bought the upstairs part, in return for money and free occupancy for life.

After my brother shafted my parents, they changed their will so that I would become the sole heir. Yet a few years after my mom died, my brother weaseled his way back into my dad' life, and as he got senile, and unbeknown to me, had a notary come to the house so that the will was changed back to 50/50 splits between my brother and me.

In 2017, my younger brother (heavy smoker and drinker) had a massive heart attack at age 56, and eventually he died in the hospital. A good time to mention that he had two grown children from two women, both of whom were total losers in life. He wanted nothing to do with them. But despite his sleazy approach to change my dad's will back, he was too stupid to have his own will. So the two children he disliked so much, got it all, including the family business! First thing they did was throw my brother's fiance out of the house!

My dad, now aged 86 and heartbroken, had another stroke a few months later. I flew to Europe to be with him, and it was a sad chapter of my life. He was unable to communicate, half of his brain useless, but he squeezed my hand and I felt he understood me. I know he wanted to die, but it took a great legal effort 'til the hospitals (plural) allowed this to happen.

Only after he was dead I learned about the changed will. Since my brother was dead, the two children he disliked so much got his 50% of the estate. While that was not much anymore, they made as much a fuzz of it all as humanly possible. In the end, I got tired of it, and decided not to claim my part. It was the last time I was in Europe, and even thinking about it makes me very, very sad.

I'm always extremely saddened and very puzzled by stories where the siblings in one family turn out very differently in character. So far the only cases I've seen in my own family are when the siblings were not raised together or had very different upbringings. What do you think caused your brother to grow into such an a**hole? I sometimes look at my own young children and fervently hope that they turn out to be decent human beings, while wondering how much control I have in the process.

Awesomeness

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Hunny156 Iím so sorry for your motherís suffering. 

It is amazing how different you both were. Nature versus nurture, who really knows why but itís fascinating stuff. How do some people end up being so disordered and so different than their siblings.  My ex was abused, neglected and abandoned by his mother, raised by his narcissistic alcoholic father and ended up doing the same horrible things to me and our kids. Yet his brother in the same home is thriving in comparison.  He was the golden child and my ex could never do anything right. And his grandfather abused my exes father. So definitely the cycle of violence/abuse carried on through him to his father then my ex and wasnít broken, so far itís broken w my kids. Itís all very sad. Maybe something similar happened w your sister.


I worry about my own kids since heís their father but Iím reminded often how different they have always been from him. At 21 and 26 years old they have no contact and probably never will but dang it heís in their genes. 

Hunny156

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So did you wind up profiting at all from the inheritance, after your legal bills, taxes, other expenses? If you could do it again, would you just walk away?

(Iím so grateful I have no relationship with my parents! They know theyíre on their own.)

Yes, I came out ahead, thankfully, by a small margin, which is already working hard on growing and becoming a positive outcome to this mess. 

I don't think it would have been right to walk away, someone had to stand up for the defenseless old woman who was in the middle of this mess, and had I not been involved, the house would have sold at an even larger discount due to the "improvements" that my sister had made.  I just wish the legal part would have moved faster, so I could have gotten the proceeds before Mom died.  If it had been at all possible for her to pass away in the assisted living facility that really cared for her, that's the only thing I would have changed.

This is a really tragic story. My condolences Hunny156.

Really curious to know if the sister understands she has fucked up or simply doesn't care. Was there ever a moment where the light switched on in her head, or does she still maintain it was all inevitable or our of her control or whatever....

Well, I got an update yesterday, and it will answer some of your questions.

She's angry.  About many things.  So she decided to write a letter to the judge in her bankruptcy, accusing all the officers of the court of being bad actors, even going so far as to insinuate that if the case had been handled in our home state, it would have been handled fairly.

She also added a whole bunch of other lies, some things she has already previously spewed, plus some new ones for good measure.  I'm shocked that she doesn't see the obvious tone of the letter - everyone else is at fault, none of this is my fault and I'm the unluckiest person in the world!

She initially complains about lack of communication, and then goes on to reference an expense summary, which indicates that she's actually receiving all the communications in the case, but hey, why would you start pointing out facts like that?  At any rate, this expense summary is the start of her realization that she fucked up.  Oh, and Medicaid wants to be reimbursed too, so depending on how the final numbers pan out, she could be looking at zero.  Oops.

So now there's a hearing in a few weeks.  The order was written in such a way, that I'm actually scared for her.  I suspect the judge is going to ream her for these patently false accusations, give her a very succinct summary of how her actions got her here, and for good measure, it looks like he's going to start approving some of those five figure settlements for all those mean, bad officers of the court, while she's in court.

Stay tuned!

cloudsail

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Wow. I'm looking forward to hearing about how this turns out!

Hunny156

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Wow. I'm looking forward to hearing about how this turns out!

Someone must have explained why the letter was such a bad idea.  She walked it back, all issues resolved when in front of the judge.  He went ahead and approved another very large payment of legal fees at the same time.  I suspect this will get fully wrapped up in a month or two.