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Money and MIL - advice needed (sorry it is quite long)

(860 Posts)
shil0846 Mon 23-Sep-13 09:38:34

This is more about my mother-in-law, however it is starting to affect my relationship with my husband and I would really appreciate some advice.

My father-in-law died last year leaving a lot of debt, but also a lot of valuable art work. My MIL also had a £15k credit card bill on which she was paying masses of interest. When she was widowed, she couldn't afford to keep paying the interest and was desperate. We therefore paid for the funeral and also took £15k out of our mortgage to lend it to her for 3 months to give her time to sell some of the art work. We are paying 4% interest on this.

11 months later she hasn't sold anything. I have sent pictures of items to auction houses to get them valued, but when I tell her what they say she tuts and says she paid far more than that and she wouldn't sell for such a low price.

The added complication is that I had a baby 6 months ago and we need the money back to buy a bigger place (we're in a tiny flat) and to fund my maternity leave. My MIL is aware of this (I have told her as plainly as I can without upsetting her). Her reaction is to apologize and say that she is ruining everything...yet she just doesn't sell anything. Most recently when I raise it she's started telling me how lucky I am to have had all this time with my DS, as she went back to work when my husband was 4 months old.

I generally have a good relationship with my MIL, but am starting to resent the fact that my family is suffering because we paid her credit card bill. I also feel duped. My husband gets really defensive when I mention it and reminds me that she's lost her husband and he's lost his father. So we end up arguing.

I know that the grief is still raw and suspect she doesn't want to part with any possessions she bought with her late husband, but I'm desperate to spend longer with my DS and could do so if she would only pay us back.

Any advice would be much appreciated.


CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 23-Sep-13 10:09:12

This is a very difficult situation and £15k is not exactly small beer. She must know it's causing you financial problems and I don't care how attached she is to her late husband's artefacts or how much she's grieving, how selfish does someone have to be to put her DS and family in that position and thinks 'sorry' will get her off the hook? (I feel bad if I owe DS £5 pocket money!) I have no idea what you can practically do OTOH. There's no contract, no agreement to pay back the debt. You can't realistically sue the woman. Your DH has been taken in hook, line ad sinker.

I think all you can do is back off, realise you've made a big mistake, hope you get the money back eventually and resolve (if it ever comes up) never to lend the woman so much as a penny again. They were clearly a very stupid couple if they were in so much debt whilst happily dusting the Rembrandts hmm. That's the thing to get across to DH. No more money.

Charlesroi Mon 23-Sep-13 10:15:03

That's a very tricky situation for you OP, especially as your DH seems to want to drop it. Did you get a loan agreement from her?

It's very poor behaviour on her part, but I don't think there's much you can do if she won't pay you back. She gets all 'poor me I've ruined everything' but doesn't try to find a way round the problem. She could have offered to pay you something every month, for example.
This may sound defeatist but I'd just try to accept you'll have to go back to work sooner than you'd hoped. I'd be avoiding her as much as possible (and making it clear why) too.
Family + Money = Trouble. Sorry.

lalalonglegs Mon 23-Sep-13 12:55:40

I'm another one saying this is a no-win situation. She has behaved appallingly but, without threatening legal action - which will, of course, cause all sorts of problems - I don't see how you can force her to give you your money back. She has acknowledged that the money was a loan but doesn't seem that interested in returning it. As your husband isn't backing you up on this, I really can't see a way forward at the moment - at the most you could ask she pays interest at 4% which would be preferable to what she was paying before.

Otherwise, much as it would pain me to do this, I would try not to mention the money for at least three months - maybe wait until the new year - and then start again. She will have had well over a year to grieve and a new year does, sometimes, give people an impetus for change.

Good luck.

NeedlesCuties Mon 23-Sep-13 15:29:44

Can you take the artwork and bring it to the gallery/valuer's yourself?

Is the issue that she doesn't want to deal with the hassle and upheaval of getting the art ready to the sold... or just that she is numb with grief and lacking motivation?

She might well tut and sniff that they are worth more than the offer, but unless she has any other tricks up her sleeve then yes, her cry that she's "ruined things" are true!

It's a terrible situation.

lavenderhoney Mon 23-Sep-13 15:45:42

Does she have her old receipts so she can show you exactly what she paid? And what are they insured for? Who pays the extra insurance?

Then call a local auction house and take the ones she is most comfortable with selling, and talk to them. They can explain fluctuation to her.

Would she give dh pictures worth that amount and leave it him to decide what to do with them?

She was very wrong to accept being bailed out, and your dh seems happy to allow it. The next conversation is of course her will, as I assume she will take into account the financial aid plus interest. Does your dh have siblings?

When she says she is ruining everything, ask her what she plans to do about it? It must be a wrench for her, but something must be done. She promised- perhaps that would work?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 23-Sep-13 16:33:20

The trouble is that, any pressure whatsoever on the MIL, any offers to escort her to the auctions, requests for receipts, mentions of wills etc and the OP becomes the evil cow who bullies cash out of an old widow woman. Her DH has already said as much. The MIL is in the wrong but her widow status makes her unassailable. I'm afraid you have to plan as if the £15k is a write-off and, if you do get anything back, treat it as a bonus.

fuzzywuzzy Mon 23-Sep-13 16:37:45

It's totally down to your husband to get the money back from his mother.

You need to speak to him & he needs to approach his mother not you.

TalkativeJim Mon 23-Sep-13 16:50:51

I would make it clear to your husband that you will not be returning to work.

You will be following your plan of staying home with your baby, having made that plan in good faith, and also in the current knowledge that this situation is completely resolvable by him. He needs to talk to MIL and start sorting out this financial mess. You will not sacrifice your time with your child to indulge either her or him in not sorting this out as planned and making sure promises are kept. If he argues, simply state that you are trying to protect family relations, as you are not sure you would ever be able to forgive either him or MIL if you were to go back to work to fund her sponging off you, for your baby to be the one to suffer for her selfishness. Use those words. Do not be afraid to intimate that marriages have foundered for less.

And then say that you think that until this is sorted it's best if you and your baby stay away from MIL, as you don't want to be seen to put pressure on her. You are beginning to resent her hugely, she is costing you money. You are going to stay in your very very tiny flat, try and keep calm, and be clear that all the time he is not sorting this, your H is putting all family relations and your own marriage at risk. Why yes, this means that MIL isn't going to see your DS. Is that important to her? Really - how strange, she seems to have no qualms at seeing him forced into childcare at 6 months, so she can't care for him that much...

Get icily, quietly angry and be quite clear that while you won't be made to be the baddie by taking action yourself, you are absolutely resolute that you also can't be made to take action in the opposite direction: ie by going back to work. Oh, the flat might be repossessed? Why yes it might, DH. Better talk to your sponging mother...

Sit tight, and you will get this resolved.

newlifeforme Mon 23-Sep-13 17:00:51

Agree with others, you are in a difficult position but if your husband isn't motivated to resolve it you are not going to get this progressed.

Do not change your plans for maternity leave due too this debt, if you do it will make you highly resentful and that will impact your marriage.

Can you find ways to make your H more responsible for this debt? I really think he needs to feel the pain for his non action to make him find a solution.Could he sell anything to start repaying the debt?

JoinYourPlayfellows Mon 23-Sep-13 23:29:50

Do what Talkative suggests.

And the next time she starts bleating about how she is "ruining" everything, agree with her.

The fact that she has lost her husband and your DH has lost his Dad has fuck all to do with the fact that she has effectively stolen £15,000 from a young family who need the money.

My marriage would be already on the line if my husband was being such a disloyal twat to me and his own child so that his spendthrift mother didn't have to repay a debt.

Inertia Tue 24-Sep-13 00:10:58

Is she doing it on purpose? She didn't get much mat leave so she's going to make sure you don't either? Or is she angling to have your DP while you go back to work?

How about telling her that you cannot afford to see her as money is so tight - no funds for extra petrol or food. Don't buy presents for her or dh. Make it crystal clear how much this impacts on you.

Inertia Tue 24-Sep-13 00:11:33

Your DS, not DP !

perfectstorm Tue 24-Sep-13 00:18:44

Agree with TalkativeJim. The fact she's started making noises about how she had to get back to work earlier herself is a pretty big hint she doesn't mean to repay, I suspect. Your DH is preparing to fold because that's the line of least resistance. But awful as their grief is, it shouldn't mean she gets to hang on to art while you lose out on irreplaceable time with your baby when she owes you that money. So make it clear to your DH that it's their problem, not your baby's. Make it so the line of least resistance shifts. She's behaving abysmally and he's enabling it. sad

zippey Tue 24-Sep-13 00:22:42

The MIL has not "effectively" stolen the money, she was given the money by her son and DIL. I fear she may not want to sell the paintings because they are of sentimental value, rather than because of the price she will get. Easier to say in hindsight, but alarm bells should have rung when you add extensive debt and posh paintings into the equation.

You have your agenda, she has hers. Losing a father or husband, I imagine is a traumatic event. I think the best you can do is to learn from this is never to lend money and hope that your MIL has enough goodwill to give you back the money with speed.

Your other option may be to make your MIL feel bad about the situation in a passive aggressive way. "Im just disappointed that you seem to have no intension of selling your paintings to pay us back the money we gave you as it hinders us from moving home to a bigger place. I understand they mean a lot to you, but its putting us in a difficult situation." and hope for the best!

Good luck, you're obviously kind people, and your MIL doesn't sound bad, she just sounds a bit sad.

shil0846 Tue 24-Sep-13 13:47:51

Thanks everyone for the advice, I really appreciate it as I was starting to wonder whether I was being totally unreasonable to expect her to repay. However I think Zippey is right, and my MIL is not a bad person she is just so traumatized that she can't see past her own unhappiness to think about anything or anyone else. She genuinely loves my DS and I wouldn't stop her seeing him, plus she's the only grandparent he's got. I've tried the "passive aggressive" hints and they haven't really got me anywhere.

I don't know whether she wants me to go back to work sooner rather than later because she did, but she worked as a teacher and was home by 3pm. In my job I was never home before 8pm and then often had to work from home. Certainly she Seems to think it's an indulgence that I want to stay off after 6 months.

I'm going to try Lalalonglegs' suggestion of leaving it a couple weeks before I raise it again, as I had another Big argument with DH about it last night.

Another issue is that she needs to remortgage in 3 years and won't be able to because of her age. She has asked/told us that we have to take out a mortgage for her and she will make the repayments. She has said she cant bear to leave her home which is her "nest". She asked us before we lent her the money and we [stupidly] said yes.

However after this there is no way I want to do that (not least 'cos it impacts our credit rating/ability to borrow money if we need to and I have no confidence that she'd make the repayments). I suspect there are going to be huge rows over that in years to come. Such a mess!


fuzzywuzzy Tue 24-Sep-13 13:56:35

I honestly think you need to ask your husband how he envisions your future together.

I wouldn't argue just ask.

Then ask him realistically given your MIL's propensity to run up debts and refusal to repay loans given by you both does he honestly think she will re-pay a massive mortgage?

She can have a nest, one that she can afford.

You and your family need a roof over your heads as well and you have every right to protect that.

SquidgyMummy Tue 24-Sep-13 14:00:17

My mother is a bit like this, in terms of digging her heels in and refusing to leave her "nest". My dad has finally managed to get her round to selling the family home as he cannot afford to fund it, as he loves abroad most of the year and a 6 bedroom house is way too big for her. But she loves the "status".

I would follow talkativejim's advice and be as passive aggressive as possible. your DS is only 6 month's old; he won't remember not seeing his grandmother. Your priority is to maximise your maternity leave and let your DH know he is damaging your relationship by siding with his mum.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 24-Sep-13 15:08:09

How does she plan to pay the repayments on this mortgage you're supposedly taking out for her? Presumably she's retired? Please tell me it's not by selling off paintings...

If I wanted someone to lend me a six-figure sum (which is essentially what you'd be doing), I wouldn't be pissing about not paying them back the five-figure sum I already owed them. Unless I had no intention of paying back the six-figure sum either, I suppose. hmm

Flibbertyjibbet Tue 24-Sep-13 15:14:38

Why does she need to remortgage in three years?

Please don't tell me she has an endowment mortgage that they did nothing about when everyone else was converting to repayment ones.

OMG you could end up with more than you, dp and a child in your little flat. And I'm not being flippant when I say that. I'd give her a few months then sit her down with the figures and get a statement from her mortgage lender, get the paintings valued and tell her what budget she has for a smaller home.

She can't expect her son to bail her out when he has a young family of his own!

lavenderhoney Tue 24-Sep-13 15:37:27

I don't think she can ask you to remortgage for her, to keep her house! Well she can ask but unless you are minted its a bit odd she expects that. She cannot expect you and your dh/ dc to live in a flat to keep her to the manner to which she is accustomed, and pay her mortgage!

she will have to sell it, get a smaller more manageable one, like many people her age, and pay you two back from any profit she has- no wonder she wants you back at work!

Its your dh who needs to take a look at all the papers, and see what she can do without your financial aid. Would you move somewhere with a granny flat? Is he an only child?

Don't wait three years to do it. She seems to have a handle on it btw- but please get her to let your dh check etc. also if you do anything, get her to make a will and all these loans etc are in it to be paid off to you.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 24-Sep-13 15:48:22

"She has asked/told us that we have to take out a mortgage for her and she will make the repayments. "

That's not an MIL, that's a full-blown con-artist. She's already stung you for £15k, won't sell a few paintings, and now she's manipulating you to take out loans because she doesn't want to downsize? This is serious stuff, it's big numbers, big commitments and you can't allow her to keep guilt-tripping you this way. Imagine if you do take out a second mortgage and then DH lost his job or got sick or something. It's stressful enough when you're responsible for the mortgage on your own home. I'm not surprised you and your DH are arguing all the time.

She needs a reality check and your DH needs to get his head in the game.

TalkativeJim Tue 24-Sep-13 16:04:48

If passive-aggressive isn't working, you need aggressive-aggressive.

She intends that you also take on a mortgage for her?

Look, this is going to ruin your marriage if you don't put a stop to it now. You CAN put a stop to it, you know. Right now, your DH sees her as the one who needs to be placated, and you as the one who has to Suck It Up. You need to start digging your heels in. And get angry. And get unable to see her. She really loves your DS? Not enough not to take for granted that her needs will come before his.

You aren't seeing what you need to see here.

I just hope that you flatly refuse to go back to work. Because if you cave and end up losing out to that extent, I really do not think you will end up in a good place with your DH.

PrincessScrumpy Tue 24-Sep-13 16:20:35

I think I would point out to dp that i'm sorry he's lost his father but he might lose his wife if he doesn't grow some balls. I would never lend to my pil as I know we'd never get it back but I've learned that over the 13 years we've been together. I'm not saying you'll get it back but if dp isn't pushing for it there's no chance. It's not a conversation you should need to have with mil, it's dps responsibility!

wheredidiputit Tue 24-Sep-13 16:43:19

I think you need to be very clear to your DH and his mother that under no circumstances will be remortgaging her house or yours. That you are not prepared to risk your DS home for them.

I betting she has an interest only mortgage and no way in paying back the capital.

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