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AIBU to not tell my mother what my Aunt has done...

(91 Posts)
TattyDevine Tue 01-Mar-16 15:56:01

Bit of a weird one, I feel like I cant win either way.

So, my Aunt lives in another country (NZ) in a house that is in family trust, and is owned by "the trust" which says she can live there rent free for the duration of her life. When she dies, the trust becomes the property of me and my brother, so in essence we inherit this house.

My mother subsidises her quite a bit with day to day living expenses. My aunt gets a state pension, but it's not much, and my mother wants her to have a good standard of living and eating well etc, and generally not go without. My Aunt worked as a seamstress, minimum wage, retired at 60, never had much money or savings, and if relevant, she probably has Aspergers syndrome (she is textbook, but was never diagnosed, as they just weren't in those days). Whereas my mother had a successful career, baby boomer, property, decent pension etc. Which is why she subsidises her.

My Aunt has a difficult relationship with my mother. She has a sense of entitlement that things should be bought and paid for by my mother, things like trips over to see my mother in Oz, trips to the UK to see me (she has had 2 in the past). Recently she decided she wanted a new kitchen. The kitchen is pretty old, 1970's, but functional, and after some negotiations she convinced my mother to go halves with her, which my mother didn't have to do, but did anyway.

Today on the phone my Aunt told me that despite the money for the kitchen being covered by her and my mother, she had got a bank loan for "just day to day case I need new glasses or something".

Mum would go spare if she knew this. She would explode. Mainly because she gives her enough to cover this kind of stuff. The loan goes until 2021 apparently, and I don't know how much she borrowed. The trouble is also, my Aunt is terminally ill. She has breast cancer, it has spread to her lungs and her bones, and she's doing well but in terms of prognosis, statistically she'd be doing well to have another 2 or 3 years left of her life. So it's likely the loan will outlive her, sadly.

From my point of view I don't mind if my brother and I sell the estate and pay off her loan with the proceeds in the event of her death. If this is even necessary - she doesn't own the house so maybe if she dies the loan gets written off. Who knows. Either way, it doesn't bother me if I end up inheriting this loan along with the house.

My mother would think I am incredibly unreasonable not to tell her about this, and I'm trying to work out why it would be unreasonable of me not to break her confidence. She's a grown woman, she has the status to get a loan or the bank wouldn't have given her one, she can basically do what she wants. That said, my mother is financially subsidising her so probably feels she'd have a right to know if she'd done something like this - probably because she feels she'd be left to sort it if the loan outlives my Aunt and partly because its not a very sensible thing to do, as it's not for something specific.

My Aunt swore me to secrecy but if my mother found out some other way, I could be drawn into a big kerfuffle. I guess its only if my Aunt tells my mother I knew, which would probably only happen in an argument type situation. Then I'm fucked. I suppose I could just deny all knowledge?

I can't tell my mum can I...AIBU? If you were helping someone out to such an extent financially would you want to know about this? I feel tainted now, like I'm carrying around a big secret...

OurBlanche Tue 01-Mar-16 16:00:50

Talk to your mum. Tell her exactly what you posted. Your aunt can be forgiven for behaving illogically. But that doesn't mean you have to be complicit, especially when you, your mum and your aunt will all be better off if communication isn't hidden.

Good luck flowers

Chocolatteaddict1 Tue 01-Mar-16 16:02:14

Tell your mother. This wouldn't sit right with me and it's admiral that you would take the loan on even though you don't know how much it is, it could actually be secured on the house and your db might not be so eager. Also your aunts thinking maybe being impaired by the illness and she could be applying for a whole host of other debt she hasn't mentioned to you - ones that she can not pay back

PortobelloRoad Tue 01-Mar-16 16:02:29

Tell her. I'm in a not dissimilar situation to your mother. My sister has similar problems (but she is diagnosed) and I subsidize her a lot. I would want to know if she told one of my kids this. I would not be happy at all if that was kept from me and I was paying the bills and that I or one of my children was going to have to potentially inherit this loan.

ImperialBlether Tue 01-Mar-16 16:02:49

Tell your mum.

wannabestressfree Tue 01-Mar-16 16:02:51

I agree with ourblanche. I think in the circumstances it needs to be said. Sorry. You have my sympathy though x

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 01-Mar-16 16:04:12

Your Aunt was very wrong to tell you not to tell your DM. So manipulative. WTF did she tell you? Tell your DM. She needn't support the Aunt to pay unneeded debt.

Pooka Tue 01-Mar-16 16:05:30

To deal with the impact of the loan on eventual estate, my understanding was that if someone has a life interest in a house but the house is in trust for others, then the loan is with your aunt and cannot be recouped from the trust after death.

Having a life interest in the house would, I would have thought, not be sufficient to be used as security against the loan. But someone more expert may be able to advise.

SleepyForest Tue 01-Mar-16 16:12:02

I would be worried that she hasn't been honest with the bank. Secrets are toxic, you have to tell your mum.

VimFuego101 Tue 01-Mar-16 16:17:34

Who is the executor of the will? if it's your mother, she will find out about the loan then. I don't think the creditor will have any claim on the house if it's in trust for you (although that depends on NZ law). Are you sure she was truthful on the loan application? I'm surprised that she was able to borrow money given her age and health. That may open up a whole other can of worms...

TattyDevine Tue 01-Mar-16 16:18:29

Oh shit. I'm going to have to tell her. The shits going to absolutely hit the fan.

Man my aunt for saying "don't tell you mother but..," and then telling me before I had a chance to deter her from telling me a secret angry

whatevva Tue 01-Mar-16 16:21:34

I think that if this loan is just for day to day stuff and she is terminally ill, then your DM needs to know. She will probably have to sort the finances out after she dies and it would be best if there were no shocks.

Purplepicnic Tue 01-Mar-16 16:23:14

She wants you to tell her. She wants your mum to know she's short of money so she will give her some more.

OzzieFem Tue 01-Mar-16 16:23:30

What did your aunt use as collateral for the loan and how much did she borrow would be my worry. I think in this case you do need to break confidentiality if your mother is subsidizing her.

Note: It's not unknown for someone to forge another's signature as guarantor. I'm not saying your aunt has done this, but it is possible. By the way, do you know for sure if the kitchen remodelling has actually been completed?

Drinkstoomuchcoffee Tue 01-Mar-16 16:24:38

If your Aunt has taken out a loan, the contact is between her and the lender. Since the house does not belong to her, she cannot have used the house as security for the loan. If she has lied to the lender and fraudulently used the house as collateral, that is the responsibility of the lender, who has failed to carry out due diligence. They will not be able to get their money back by making a charge against a house she did not own. No other family member has any responsibility for her debts. If she has other things she owns, the lender could, depending on the terms of the loan, have some claim on them, but the liklihood is that any debt will die with her.
Since the debt is hers, and she does not want your mother to know, I would say nothing. Your mother knowing is not going to help anybody.

acasualobserver Tue 01-Mar-16 16:25:07

I think, with the wisdom of hindsight, you should not have allowed yourself to be sworn to secrecy about your aunt's financial arrangements. However, I also think you should break this confidence - as pps have said, anything else is unfair on your mother. It's also up to your mother what she does with this information - she may just prefer to say nothing and keep a closer check on the ways she is subsidising your aunt.

acasualobserver Tue 01-Mar-16 16:27:31

Sorry, x-post - just seen that you did not have the chance to refuse being co-opted.

Primaryteach87 Tue 01-Mar-16 16:36:49

I don't think you should tell your mum. Your aunt and your mum's relationship is a separate issue. Ultimately it's not for your mum to make financial decisions for your aunt. She has chosen to subsidise her but that doesn't mean she gets veto over every decision. Finally if your aunt doesn't own the house, she cannot have secured a loan against it. Therefore it's not anyone else's business. Unwise, yes, but private.

Yeh, I think you can all support your Aunt better if your DM knows about it all. Your poor Aunt having terminal cancer flowers Sounds like whatever support she has been getting from you all she may need a little more for her last few years (possibly but not necessarily financial)

DinosaursRoar Tue 01-Mar-16 16:45:37

I think your Aunt does expect you to tell your mum, and get your mum to pay off the loan.

I think you need to talk to your mum about what you can both expect from your Aunt, given her mental abilities, if she is just not capable of budgeting, was it unfair to say "this is enough for her to live off" and expect her to keep to it without anyone close by keeping an eye on her? Assume your Aunt doesn't have other family in NZ keeping an eye on her day to day.

I would query why your Aunt was paying anything for the kitchen when it's not her house? Is she effectively your tenant, just not one that has to pay rent? You might want to look at NZ tenancy laws, and where you stand if she's run up debts paying for repairs and work to the house that you were liable for.

I'm assuming the house belonged to your Aunt and Mum's parents who 'skipped a generation' and left it to you and your DB rather than their 2 DDs to ensure their DD with undiagnoised difficulties would always have a roof over her head.

Flisspaps Tue 01-Mar-16 16:48:55


ConferencePear Tue 01-Mar-16 16:50:52

Is it possible that your aunt has some sort of life insurance that she thinks will pay if off ?

Redroses11 Tue 01-Mar-16 16:56:31

A five year loan would be for a significant sum.

ShmooBooMoo Tue 01-Mar-16 17:00:12

I think you should call your aunt, tell her she has put you in a difficult and unfair position by telling you about the loan and swearing you to secrecy, and that you are letting her know that you feel duty bound to tell your mother as she is generously subsidised by her/ that the loan may one day fall to her.
Is your aunt quite isolated? That, coupled with her suspected Asperger's and terminal illness, could mean she is depressed and behaving recklessly, either unwilling or unable to foresee negative consequences. As you say, the loan is for things she does not need and I'm sure if she needed glasses, being as generous and caring a sister as your mum obviously is, she would help out with that.
I think she forfeited her right to ask you to keep her confidence when it sounds like it was said before you had a chance to agree or disagree...

FeelItInMyToes Tue 01-Mar-16 17:01:09

As an ex bank manager here I would be hearing alarm bells ringing! Who has the deeds to the house? Is it possible that she has used them to secure a loan? And as cold hearted as it sounds, unfortunately we wouldn't be allowed to sanction a loan for someone who is terminally ill, especially with a five year term.

I'm sorry but I think you need to look closer into this, especially from the point of view of protecting your aunt.

I think you are going to have to tell your mum, you didn't ask to "keep" this secret, it was forced upon you. To tell is the lesser of 2 evils.

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