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Writing our own wills after this experience
His Daughter
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2016 10:36 AM
Joined: 6/25/2014
Posts: 2270


Hello everyone,

    I am currently in the process of finalizing my dad's estate.  It's been an overwhelming and daunting task, and it's not over yet.    As with everything else throughout his illness, I don't have the help of MIA siblings.   Only their emails to my Dad's attorney because they believe they are not getting enough, and any thing I received is far too much.  They are criticizing every decision I have made, including the split on his WWII memorabilia.  

  I realize that my dad had no idea what was coming, and therefore, wrote his will in a simple three way split, with the standard words, "share and share alike."    But this first hand experience has completely changed my mind about my own will.   For any of us who have been down this road of primary caregiver and Personal Representative, I think it is important for us to acknowledge the heavy financial, physical, and emotional tole this takes on the caregiver and PR.   The unlimited hours of work and worry, over the course of many years,  should not go unnoticed or under appreciated.  This also shouldn't cause the person who steps up to the plate to support their parent, to personally experience a financial loss.  But for many of us, that's exactly what happens.  

  In a perfect world, the MIA siblings wouldn't have been MIAs.  They would also have stepped forward, provided help and been involved with this process.   They would be gracious in acknowledging  how much time, effort, the hours of work, and how much this process actually personally cost the primary caregiver.  They would willfully make certain that the primary caregiver receives something extra for all the care and comfort of their parent, that they apparently didn't have the time to provide.   However that is rarely, if ever, the case.  Instead they stand back, as they did throughout this illness, criticize and complain, and demand that THEY are treated fairly.  

   It wouldn't have mattered if my dad was dead broke, I still would have been there to help him.  However, I am also a little resentful that my parent didn't have the for site to consider that the end of his life might require full time care, or that the PR role was more than just a week's worth of time and effort.  I have worked full time since my father's death in December on his Estate.  And as I said, I'm not done yet.  (I certainly want to be done.)

  With the realistic projection of 1 out of 3 people in this country being diagnosed with AD, I am here to remind everyone, that how you write your will today, may someday leave equal distribution to all your children, while the one child who stepped in to help gets nothing for all their time and effort on your behalf.  Is this really what you want to do?  Is that really what you think is fair to the parties involved?  

  I have already verbally informed all three of my children that it won't be a simple three way split on my will.  That the PR will have complete control.  And if I require full time care, that the person who is my MPOA, will receive additional monies from my Estate.  I will not allow my children to come at life is the same sense of ENTITLEMENT that I see so proudly worn by my siblings, all simply based on DNA.  

I can't change what is written in my father's will.  But I'm also certain, that he wouldn't have wanted this story to end with his one daughter, who made the end of his life comfortable and as happy as it could be, to have taken a financial loss in her own life, without being compensated for that.  It takes just a little bit of thought, and a simple recognition, that none of us are immune from AD.  

      


MissHer
Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2016 7:15 PM
Joined: 11/13/2014
Posts: 2364


I have family like that. If they complained I would contest the will and turn in a bill for my service. You would probably win. My mom's trustee claims that people even contest trust's and win.
bela
Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2016 12:38 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 4120


Very good points made!

Life, wills and trusts have evolved.

In days past few if any lived to their mid/late eighties let alone nineties.  As such wills and trusts and end of life matters must also change.

One thing His Daughter and I discussed briefly previously was a new addition that was part of my mother's will/trust and it stated (paraphrasing)-- if anyone contests this will they will be removed and receive no inheritance -


MissHer
Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2016 9:00 AM
Joined: 11/13/2014
Posts: 2364


Bela,

  That phrase is also in my parent's trust. According to the trustee, it means nothing. They do and win. My mom is now in a MCF so she might run out of money. If she doesn't the siblings would probably act just like His Daughters except I gave up trustee to the bank and I don't have to divide the remaining assets. But if they call the attorney and complain (they already did that)  I would turn in a bill for my time. His Daughter really doesn't have to take their crap. I find it to be so rude and just down right mean. Makes me so mad!


Because she's my mom!
Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 1:56 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 737


Yes, His Daughter, I understand. I finally closed my mom's estate this past week, and wrote the final check to my sibling. Mom's will specified that everything be split 50-50 between us, and told me that if we wanted to share with our children, that was up to us. We didn't have to worry about her house or personal items when settling the estate, because I took care of that 8 years ago. By the way, I disclaimed a portion of my inheritance so it would go directly to my daughters.

Mom may have had an inkling that if she ever needed help, I would be the one who would be there for her, come hell or high water. Because she left me something extra through POD (Payable on Death) that she set up over 20 years ago. Which I find interesting, because growing up , I always felt my brother was her favorite.

From the beginning, nearly 12 years ago, we had very little help from my brother, except when he and I moved her to a private care home near me. And after she was here, he visited her three times in 8 years. (he lives an hour and a half away). In all fairness to him, though, he told me he just couldn't handle seeing what Alzheimer's was doing to our once strong, creative, amazing mother.

The good news is he never questioned my decisions regarding her care or my management of her finances. I kept detailed spreadsheets of all her financials, income, expenses just in case he ever questioned me. As for the estate, I followed my mom's wishes and made sure that it was split evenly between us, except that I took the "odd penny" that was left in the checking account (and the little something extra she left me through POD) .  I reimbursed only my actual expenses such as priority and certified mailings, death certificates, attorney fees and CPA fees, not for my time or my mileage running around to the funeral home, attorneys, CPA's, banks to get  signature guarantees, etc. The time spent on settling the estate, as you know, is unbelievable. Even when everything is organized.

I don't think either of my daughters would ever be MIA by choice, but I agree that if one child shoulders the burden of care for a parent, it only seems reasonable that she should somehow be compensated, though I'm not sure how to accomplish that. 

I really miss mom, and writing that final check and closing her estate means she is really gone.


His Daughter
Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 7:32 AM
Joined: 6/25/2014
Posts: 2270


Because She's My Mom,

   Boy can I relate to your story.  This process has been exhausting!   Unfortunately, I am also dealing with two very self centered siblings, that I have now named the "Entitlement Twins".  It's more than an appropriate title.

The thing, however, that has always bothered me, is that statement you made:  " In all fairness to him, though, he told me he just couldn't handle seeing what Alzheimer's was doing to our once strong, creative, amazing mother."

See, this is the point.  DOES ANYONE REALLY WANT TO SEE OR HANDLE WATCHING OUR LOVED ONES DESCEND INTO THE BLACK HOLE OF AD?   I know I didn't, and I bet you didn't either.  It made me cry constantly, and I hated it.  But this was my dad, and he deserved my help and protection.  He also deserved the help and protection from my siblings, that he never received!!!   And your brother as well, made a conscious decision and excused himself from being there for your mom.   And for that, I see these people as week and shallow, putting their own feelings ahead of all else.  Not much to respect there.  And more importantly, if and when he gets AD, would he want to be dumped, as though his life never mattered?   While I'm not a religious woman, the phrase "Do unto others..........." certainly comes to mind.     

We don't have the right, or the choice, to decide we can't handle it.  I will never understand why some people feel they do.  



Because she's my mom!
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2016 1:54 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 737


His Daughter-

  I will never understand how anyone can't, or won't, help in any way they can. I was very angry at my brother for the first three years. I finally realized that the anger was hurting me, not him, so I let ( most of) it go. Our mom, and dad were always very good to both of us, our kids, and anyone else who needed help.I guess  that trait didn't  rub off on him!

He never experienced the heartache of watching our mom go through each miserable, wretched, cruel stage of Alzheimer's. I'll never forget it. But I think it's made me a better person.


His Daughter
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2016 8:57 AM
Joined: 6/25/2014
Posts: 2270


Because She's my Mom,

    It was two years for me!   This was one more of the issues that haunted me when I took over for Dad.  It's another one of the reasons I wrote about this experience.  That writing turned into a whole book!   But this MIA sibling issue affects many of us during this process.  I was so angry FOR MY DAD.   Not for me, but for him.  

   This is a topic that I personally believe should be covered extensively in the books on AD.  Yet everything I ever read simply couched this issue with diluted phrases and excuses.  They never acknowledge the additional heartache that this topic dumps on the primary caregiver.  And as if this disease process isn't hard enough, then on top of it, we often get stuck in this anger because of MIA siblings.  It really complicates the problem.  

   I used phrases and sayings that I would repeat over and over every time my MIAs would do something outrageous.  But it still took a full two years to get through this minefield of siblings.  If there was anyway to help the newbies with this issue, I'd do it in a heartbeat!  Because being the primary caregiver is hard enough without adding the emotional struggle of MIA siblings to the list.  

   But here's the thing I can also guarantee.  The siblings that are no where to be found though out this illness, will be first in line, standing tall and proud, when it comes to inheritance!   There is no ending to their sense of entitlement.  I'm dealing with this right now.  It's enough to make you sick.    


Because she's my mom!
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2016 1:46 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 737


His Daughter-

I had no problem about being responsible for managing her finances and health care; yes, it took time and for the first few years I was working and used my leave time for her appointments and staying with her, when she was still living independently or with a caregiver at home. I had retired by the time we moved her to a care home near me.  My anger with my brother and his family was more of "how can you abandon your mom? How can you not be there for her when she was always there for you....ALWAYS!"  Sometimes I would just sit and cry my eyes out, wondering if she felt abandoned by her son. That still haunts me.

There are so many of us who have taken on the responsibility of caring for a loved one while siblings criticize and do nothing. At least I had autonomy in caring for her, and for the most part, received no criticism. And in my heart, I know I did my best, and did what she would have wanted me to do.

But there are many who have no choice but to  give up their jobs in order to care for their loved one, and some who lovingly choose to give up their jobs to be the caregiver. Either way, it adversely affects that persons financial future through lost income, lost social security credits, etc. And if at all possible, provisions should be made to lighten any financial hardship for them.

I hope my girls will share the responsibility should I need care in the future.   


His Daughter
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2016 7:43 PM
Joined: 6/25/2014
Posts: 2270


Because She's My Mom,

  Boy your line just hit me in the gut and brought me back to exactly that feeling...." My anger with my brother and his family was more of "how can you abandon your mom? How can you not be there for her when she was always there for you....ALWAYS!"  Sometimes I would just sit and cry my eyes out, wondering if she felt abandoned by her son. That still haunts me."

That's exactly what I meant that you are mad FOR your parent.  My siblings could do whatever they wanted to to me,  but to abandon Dad at this time in his life was simply ABHORRENT.  I was angry ON HIS BEHALF.  It's like you want to stand up and fight the bully for picking on someone weaker or younger.   I used to cry my eyes out too.  I felt so bad for him.  I even wrote a chapter called, "Am I Enough?"   

Again, I just think that newbies will also walk this road, and anything we can do to help them understand and let go SOONER, is a good thing.  Cause wouldn't you like to have those 3 years back?  I'd love to have my 2 years.  All I can wait for now is to be done with handling the estate, so I never have to see or speak to them again.  Cause right now, their sense of ENTITLEMENT  is absolutely killing me.

 


anib
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2016 9:00 AM
Joined: 7/29/2014
Posts: 217


Hi All,  One thing I wanted to add.  When dispersing everything in the Trust, please make sure that your siblings sign a "Receipt and Release", from the lawyer.  This document releases the Trust and YOU from being sued. My sister was so intent on claiming her "stuff" that she signed it, and it saved my butt.

My MIA sibling tried to sue me, and after a bunch more money was spent the Judge dismissed the case against me.  Plus the fact that my MIA's never showed up to court (after 3 attempts to get them here) The document held, so even if it is a small amount of property or money PLEASE make sure they get one, and sign it.  He even added a clause, that after the document has been signed any contact that my MIA have with my moms  Lawyer, will be at THEIR expense, so it doesn't come out of your pocket.

What has been amusing to me is that the house my sister inherited, costs thousand of dollars a year on upkeep, and property taxes along with the insurance. ( it is hard to find insurance on an out of state empty home) They had no clue..so now they are property rich, and scrambling to take on the task of this house. (Their latest ploy was pleading poverty and wanted help paying the taxes) Nice try I say, anyone who makes $150,000 a year is only poor by having champagne tastes on a beer budget!

The anger and entitlement is still something I will never ever understand, the letters sent to my mom saying we are going to come and visit...then she was gone.  For some unknown reason they think this is my fault. I have no regrets about the journey, only that I was the only one of her children by her side when she passed.

I also got online and did my own will. $20 bucks is a lot cheaper than the thousands paid by my mom.

I too am in the final stages of closing out the Trust, my moms home sold quickly and we are closing on the 23rd of this month.

Please do check on the "if anyone sues the Trust they get nothing" in your state.  Where I live the laws got changed, so that is no longer in effect. So even if it is in the Trust, it might not be legal anymore.

DO WE EVER GET THE CHANCE TO MOURN??? This whole experience has ripped a hole in my soul.

Wishing you all peace, and a chance to find your OWN purpose again!


His Daughter
Posted: Friday, June 10, 2016 8:35 AM
Joined: 6/25/2014
Posts: 2270


Anib,

Boy your question hit me, "DO WE EVER GET A CHANCE TO MOURN?"   Apparently the answer to that is "NO."  Or maybe it's just so delayed that we don't even feel it.  All I've been doing since my dad died, is putting out whatever fires my MIAs are starting.   They were never any help and only made things harder throughout this illness.  And now with Dad gone, they are still doing the same thing.  People simply don't change who they are.  

While talking to my husband the other day, I mentioned something that rang completely true.  NO ONE CARES WHAT I DID FOR DAD.  THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO CARED  ABOUT WHAT I DID, WAS ME, AND MY DAD.  But as far as siblings..........they could care less.  In their minds the years I spent caring for Dad, simply didn't exist.  My siblings are currently beating the drum of "Gail is getting too much."   And I'll say it again,  "Gail is getting too much."   THE ONLY WAY THAT STATEMENT IS EVEN POSSIBLE, IS IF YOU COMPLETELY DISMISS THE LAST 3 1/2 years.  If you forget that there was someone who sold their business and limited their own personal income, spent every single day with all the decisions and worry, limited their own personal life, didn't take vacations or time off, and was there at the drop of a hat.   If you can forget all this, then yes "Gail is getting too much."  HOW INCREDIBLY CONVENIENT FOR THEM.  

Because the reality is, "Gail will never be repaid for her sacrifice and commitment."   And the MIAs will do everything possible to make sure of that.  They are standing proud and tall, first in line, wearing their banners for DNA INHERITANCE, dismissing all thoughts of his care through these years.  Simply because THEY DIDN'T CARE.  The ONLY thing they care about, is how much money they can stuff in their own wallets because Dad died.  How many possessions they can take, and how they can now dismiss themselves from all the work involved with handling an Estate, as they now sit back and whine and complain about the "things" they want.  My RN sister, even tried to take the service flag from the funeral.  The flag I found, had flown over the capital in his honor, and paid for with my own money.  But that didn't matter, because she wanted it.  

If they cared, they would have been here.  If they cared, they would have shown up and helped.  If they cared, my sister wouldn't have said she couldn't come because of snow, and my brother wouldn't have said I had people to help care for Dad.  But who exactly did my brother think I could pay to be Dad's one-and-only son?  Where was my sister (the RN) in the months of March, April, May, June, July, August, September and October for 3 years?  They were home, doing their own things, taking vacations and living their life as usual.  That's where.   

And I'll say it again, "NO ONE CARES WHAT WE DID FOR OUR PARENT."  That's a reality that is hard to swallow, yet needs to be embraced.  I'm still clinging to my word "Acceptance."  And looking forward to the day when I am completely done with my biological siblings.  We need to do all we can to help the new caregivers understand this.  Because it complicates this experience, and makes things harder on the primary caregiver.  But this line of thinking  it is so convoluted, so out-of-line, so self centered, and conveniently  dismissive, it's simply hard to believe. 

The sad part of all this is, that the one person who I respected, loved, honored, and appreciated, is the person I just lost.   And I don't even get the time to mourn this life altering loss.      


Because she's my mom!
Posted: Friday, June 10, 2016 1:57 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 737


Wow, His Daughter, I thought my MIA was bad......yours are really nasty , and well, rather evil! Not just during your dad's illness, but after as well. Do you sometimes wonder how you're all raised in the same family? I know my daughters have said more than once they wonder how the MIA and I were raised by the same parents!

Advice to those who have MIA sibs, and YOU are the one who is  taking care of everything: Pretend you're an only child if at all possible. When I adopted that attitude,  I stopped having any expectations of help. That's what I did, and partly because I was lucky not to be questioned about my own decisions regarding mom's care or finances. Probably couldn't have done that if sib had been a buttinsky! 

My MIA can't complain because I got "more" because he doesn't know about it, and never will.

Mom left me something extra via POD, so it wasn't part of the will, and not part of the probatable estate. She set this up years before she became ill, in spite of MIA always being the favorite. Guess in her heart she knew who would take care of her if she ever needed it.

MIA's family took nearly ALL of her furniture and other stuff when we cleaned out and sold her house years before she passed. True, neither I nor my children had room for it, and MIA has a 4500 SF house. But still......

In your situation, I probably wouldn't want much of a relationship, if any, with the MIAs. You can live your life with your head held high, they can have their mug shots on the wall of shame.


His Daughter
Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2016 8:08 AM
Joined: 6/25/2014
Posts: 2270


Because She's my Mom,

"Mug shot on the wall of shame"  OMG, thank you so much for the laugh.  It's hard to describe how awful my MIAs are.  My sister took a check off Dad for $500, when he'd just gotten out of the hospital and was still terribly sick.  His mind was so bad he couldn't even correctly spell her name.  He scratched out a portion of her name, and she had him initial it above the mistake.  My brother hired an attorney in our town, to press the issue of getting a copy of Dad's will, when he was still walking, talking, smiling and laughing.......but never came home in over 4 years to see his dying father.  So yes, I'll get in line for a trophy for worst siblings.  

And yes, I very clearly describe the differences with the MIAs in my book.  I've often wondered how we came from the same DNA and the same house.  But that is exactly why I had the relationship with my parents that I did, and exactly why both Mom and Dad named me for everything in their legal paperwork.  They knew who their children were.  They knew who would care for them, and do the right thing not based on personal convenience.  I think very parent knows!!   

And yes, I totally agree that you need to see yourself as an only child.  That thought really keeps your head above water.  Because you are alone in all this.  As I mentioned, it took me two years to see my way clear.  And now I just have the Estate to get through.  AND YES, the only thing that is keeping me moving, is knowing that when I'm done I will never have to see or speak to them again.  EVER.  

And good for your mom leaving you something extra!!  That really was the reason for my initial post.  I don't think our parents would want us (the caregiver) to take a loss because we dedicated ourselves to them through this illness.  But for many people that's what happens.  Unfortunately, I have two MIAs who will literally fight over every scrap of paper if they think it's worth 5 cents.  I've boxed hundreds of personal property items for them both, and made numbered lists.  My sister has gotten 168 items and my brother 110.  But apparently that's not enough for either one of them.  I spent hundreds of hours transferring Mom and Dad's photos to discs, but that too isn't good enough.    

All I can say, is that it's difficult as the caregiver not to feel that if you did get a little something more than the MIAs..............YOU'VE DARN WELL EARNED IT.   But that won't be the case here, as my MIAs will be like Anib's and sue me.   I know I'm venting a bit, but gosh darn it, I've also earned that right.  This entire process has been a tremendous amount of work.  I know I did right by Dad, and I know he appreciates it.  I know I never would have made any other decision, and I'm grateful I could be there for him.  So I guess that will be my "reward" for good conduct.  Knowing I did the right thing, and that my Dad left this world with His Daughter sitting right by his side.   


His Daughter
Posted: Friday, July 29, 2016 11:34 AM
Joined: 6/25/2014
Posts: 2270


I have just finished reading a chapter on inheritance, in the book Family Estrangements.  The author, Barbara LeBey, is a lawyer and former judge.  Her chapter: Grave Consequences: Death, Greed and Inheritance, is based on families personal experiences.  While this book is not specifically written with AD in mind, she is very supportive of caregivers, and obviously very in tune with the issue of "entitlement".  

In this chapter, she gives many ideas for writing your own will.  While the inheritance may not be "equal distribution",  she certainly acknowledges fairness to the caregiver.   I especially like her words relating to the decline of our elderly parent, "If we do what's honorable and decent and loving, we provide care and supervision for them that will make their lives comfortable for whatever time they have left."   Further, she acknowledges that there unfortunately many children, who do not participate in this loving ending.  

Her information is well worth the reading.